Author: General Assembly

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

“An act directing the emancipation of certain slaves who have served as soldiers in this state, and for the emancipation of the slave Aberdeen.” (October 20, 1783)

This act, passed during the October 1783 session of the General Assembly, grants enslaved people their freedom in recognition of their military service on behalf of free people during the American Revolution. Among them was Aberdeen, who served in the Virginia Navy. A year earlier, in May 1782, the General Assembly passed a law that allowed enslavers to manumit their slaves at will, without government approval. During the Revolution, thousands of enslaved people fought for the British after they were promised freedom for their service, and beginning in 1783, more than 3,000 of these soldiers were resettled in Nova Scotia.

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

“An act for the purchase and manumitting negro Cæsar.” (November 14, 1789)

This act, passed during the October 1789 session of the General Assembly, grants Caesar, an enslaved man, freedom in recognition of his service in the Continental Navy during the American Revolution. He was one of many enslaved men serving on vessels charged with protecting Virginia from the British. Caesar was a crew member of the Patriot. He joined the Virginia Navy in 1776 or 1777 and continued to serve after the British surrender. He remained enslaved by the Tarrant family in Hampton until this act, when the General Assembly purchased him in order to manumit him from his enslaver. He continued working as a river pilot and was able to purchase the freedom of his wife and one of his three children; his wife purchased the freedom of another after his death.

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

Chapter CXCII of the Code of Virginia (1873)

In this excerpt from the Code of Virginia, published in 1873, the General Assembly defines “Offences Against Morality and Decency” and articulates those laws designed to protect the peace of church services.

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