In March 2010, the General Assembly extended state recognition to the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia. State recognition is a legislative process, first established in the 1980s, by which the Commonwealth of Virginia acknowledges its longstanding relationships with and governmental responsibilities to tribal communities. The text of this joint resolution reflects the extensive documentation compiled by the Nottoway community, including genealogical research of Nottoway families, records of Nottoway tribal participation in the written history of Virginia, and documentary evidence from colonial to modern times.
Author: General Assembly
“An Act for making more effectual provision against Invasions and Insurrections.” (February 1727)
The following law, passed by the General Assembly in its February 1727 session, outlines the rules with regards to militias established to defend the colony of Virginia from invasions and incursions. Among its many provisions, the law authorizes the use of militias to control the movements of bound and enslaved persons, which marks the state’s formalization of a system to capture runaways.
“Concerning Huie and Cries.” (March 1657)
The following law, passed by the General Assembly in its March 1657 session, sets out the protocol for publicizing petitions to retrieve indentured servants who ran away. This is the earliest legislation in the Virginia colony concerning the business of apprehending fugitives. This law is based on the English tradition of hue and cry, in which the public’s aid was solicited in the apprehension of criminals. This tradition is a cornerstone of the history of the servant and slave patrols in early Virginia.
“Senate Joint Resolution No. 5” (February 8, 1950)
In this excerpt from the Journal of the Senate, there is an account of state senators Lloyd Bird and Garland Gray introducing Senate Joint Resolution No. 5, a bill that would create the Virginia History and Government Textbook Commission. The bill passed and the commission went on to create history texts that sought to impose the Lost Cause version of slavery, the American Civil War (1861–1865), and Reconstruction on Virginia students.
“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.
“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.
“Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Saturday, February 12, 1876.” (February 12, 1876)
In this excerpt from the Journal of the House of Delegates, there is an account of the arguments heard on the floor of the General Assembly on February 12, 1876. Among them is the question of whether to order a new election in Prince George County after that county’s 1875 House of Delegates race was contested.
“Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Thursday, December 3, 1874.” (December 3, 1874)
In this excerpt from the Journal of the House of Delegates, there is an account of the arguments on the floor of the General Assembly on December 3, 1874.
“Women servants whose common imployment is working in the ground to be accompted tythable” (1662)
In the act “Women servants whose common imployment is working in the ground to be accompted tythable,” passed by the General Assembly in the session of December 1662, Virginia’s colonial government attempted to better define the conditions by which free and enslaved African Americans were taxed.
“Women servants gott with child by their masters after their time expired to be sold by the Churchwardens for two yeares for the good of the parish” (1662)
In this law, “Women servants gott with child by their masters after their time expired to be sold by the Churchwardens for two yeares for the good of the parish,” passed in its December 1662 session, the General Assembly addressed the problem of indentured servants having children by their masters.
An ACT to amend and explain an act further declaring what shall be deemed unlawful meetings of slaves (January 4, 1805)
In this act, passed on January 4, 1805, the General Assembly amends earlier legislation to clarify that masters may bring their slaves to church.