At a Council held at the Palace [Williamsburg] May 3, 1775, Present, his Excellency the Governor, Thomas Nelson, Richard Corbin, William Byrd, Ralph Wormeley, jun. Esquires, John Camm, Clerk, and John Page, Esquire.
The Board, resuming the consideration of the subject laid before them yesterday by the Governor, advised him to issue the following proclamation; and the same was ordered accordingly.
By his Excellency, the Right Hon. JOHN, Earl of DUNMORE, his Majesty's Lieutenant and Governor General of the Colony and Dominion of Virginia, and Vice Admiral of the same:
VIRGINIA, to wit.
WHEREAS there is too much reason to suppose that some persons, in the different parts of this colony, are disaffected to his Majesty's government, and by their weight and credit with the people are endeavouring to bring the Country into such a situation as to afford them the fairest prospect of effecting a change in the form of it, covering their wicked designs under the specious appearance of defending their liberties, and have taken advantage of the unhappy ferment, which themselves have raised in the minds of their fellow subjects, in prosecution of their dangerous designs to oppose the most undoubted prerogative of the King, which in a late instance I thought it expedient to exert by removing on board his Majesty's ship the Fowey, a small quantity of gunpowder belonging to his Majesty, from the magazine in this city; I have thought fit, by advice of his Majesty's council, to issue this my proclamation, with a view of undeceiving the deluded, and of exposing to the unwary the destruction into which they may be precipitated, if they suffer themselves to be longer guided by such infatuated counsels.
Although I consider myself, under the authority of the crown, the only constitutional judge, in what manner the munition, provided for the protection of the people of this government, is to be disposed of for that end; yet for effecting the salutary objects of this proclamation, and removing from the minds of his Majesty's subjects the groundless suspicions they have imbibed, I think proper to declare that the apprehensions which seemed to prevail throughout this whole country of an intended insurrection of the slaves, who had been seen in large numbers, in the night time, about the magazine, and my knowledge of its being a very insecure depository, were my inducements to that measure, and I chose the night as the properest season, because I knew the temper of the times, and the misinterpretations of my design which would be apt to prevail if the thing should be known. Acting under these motives, I certainly rather deserved the thanks of the country than their reproaches. But, whenever the present ferment shall subside, and it shall become necessary to put arms into the hands of the militia, for the defence of the people against a foreign enemy, or intestine insurgents, I shall be as ready as on a late occasion to exert my best abilities in the service of the country. In the mean time, as it is indispensibly necessary to maintain order and the authority of the laws, and thereby the dignity of his Majesty's government, I exhort and require, in his Majesty's name, all his faithful subjects, to leave no expedient unessayed which may tend to that happy end. Such as are not to be influenced by the love of order for its own sake, and the blessings it is always productive of, would do well to consider the internal weakness of this colony, as well as the dangers to which it is exposed from a savage enemy who; from the most recent advices I have received from the frontier inhabitants, are ready to renew their hostilies against the people of this country. But, as on the one hand, nothing can justify men, without proper authority, in a rapid recurrence to arms, nothing excuse resistance to the executive power in the due enforcement of law, so on the other, nothing but such resistance and outrageous proceedings shall ever compel me to avail myself of any means that may carry the appearance of severity.
Anxious to restore peace and harmony to this distracted country, and to induce a firmer reliance on the goodness and tenderness of our most gracious Sovereign to all his subjects equally, and on the wisdom of his councils for a redress of all their real grievances, which can only be obtained by loyal and constitutional applications, I again call upon and require all his Majesty's liege subjects, and especially all magistrates and other officers, both civil and military, to exert themselves in removing the discontents, and suppressing the spirit of faction, which prevail among the people, that a dutiful submission to the laws of the land may be strictly observed, which shall ever be the rule of my conduct, as the interest and happiness of this dominion ever have been, and shall continue to be, the objects of my administration.
Given under my hand, and the seal of the colony, at Williamsburg, this 3d day of May, 1775, and in the 15th year of his Majesty's reign. DUNMORE.
GOD SAVE THE KING