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Dunmore's Proclamation to Virginia

  • A Proclamation to Virginia, March 28, 1775
This Proclamation was delivered by royal Governor Dunmore on March 28, 1775, by the order of King George III.
Related documents:
  • Dunmore's Proclamation
    Dunmore's Proclamation, November 7, 1775
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A Proclamation to Virginia, March 28, 1775

The First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia in the autumn of 1774 and imposed an embargo on commerce with Great Britain. Peyton Randolph, who was Speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses, served as president of the Congress. Its members also agreed to meet again in the spring of 1775 if Parliament had not responded favorably to the addresses Congress sent to the people of Great Britain and to the king. The king and Parliament rejected Congress's appeals, and in March 1775 the second Virginia Revolutionary Convention met in what was later called Saint John's Church in Richmond to elect delegates to the Second Continental Congress. At that convention, Patrick Henry moved that the colony be put into a posture of defense and in support of his motion made the dramatic “Give me liberty, or give me death!” speech.

The day after the convention adjourned, the royal governor, John Murray, fourth earl of Dunmore, under orders from the king, issued a proclamation forbidding the appointment of delegates to the Second Continental Congress, which was to meet in Philadelphia on May 10, 1775. The proclamation came too late. The Virginia convention had already elected delegates, and approximately one month later, before dawn on April 21, British marines from the HMS Magdalen, who were acting on orders from the governor, removed gunpowder from the magazine (or munitions storehouse) in Williamsburg. Militia companies converged on the capital, and the colony came close to an armed rebellion. On April 30, news of fighting between British soldiers and Massachusetts militiamen at Lexington and Concord reached Williamsburg. War was beginning to seem inevitable.

For Educators


1. When and where was the Congress of colonies to be held?
2. Who was the man who issued this proclamation? What was his position in the colony?

Further Discussion

1. Compare this proclamation with the document called "Dunmore's Proclamation." What do their similarities and differences tell us about the changes in colonial and royal sentiments toward one another?


Library of Congress Bibliographic Information-Dunmore's Proclamation to Virginia

This Day in Virginia: September 6

Suggested Reading

Holton, Woody. Forced Founders: Indians, Debtors, Slaves, and the Making of the American Revolution in Virginia. Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1999.

Middlekauff, Robert. The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763–1789. Rev. ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Selby, John E. The Revolution in Virginia, 1775–1783. Williamsburg, Va.: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1988.

By his Excellency the Right Honourable 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 certain Persons, stiling themselves Delegates of several of his Majesty's Colonies in America, having presumed, without his Majesty's Authority or Consent, to assemble together at Philadelphia in the Months of September and October last, have thought fit, among other unwarrantable Proceedings, to resolve that it will be necessary that another Congress should be held at the same Place on the 10th of May next, unless Redress of certain pretended Greivances be obtained before that Time, and to recommend that all the Colonies in North America should chuse Deputies to attend such Congress, I am commanded by the King, and I do accordingly issue this my Proclamation, to require all Magistrates and other Officers to use their utmost Endeavours to prevent any Such Appointments of Deputies, and to exhort all Persons whatever within this Government to desist from such an unjustifiable Proceeding, so highly displeasing to his Majesty.
Given under my Hand, and the Seal of the Colony, this 28th Day of March, in the 15th Year of his Majesty's Reign.
GOD save the KING.

* The printer of this document used the long or leading s, a character that looks similar to an "f" but is used as an "s."