October 1778 - ACT I. And act for preventing the farther importation of Slaves.

I. FOR preventing the farther importation of slaves into this commonwealth, Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That from and after the passing of this act no slave or slaves shall hereafter be imported into this commonwealth by sea or land, nor shall any slaves so imported be sold or bought by any person whatsoever.

II. Every person hereafter importing slaves into this commonwealth contrary to this act shall forfeit and pay the sum of one thousand pounds for every slave so imported, and every person selling or buying any such slaves shall in like manner forfeit and pay the sum of five hundred pounds for every slave sold or bought, one moiety of which forfeitures shall be to the use of the commonwealth, and the other moiety to him or them that will sue for the same, to be recovered by action of debt or information in any court of record.

III. And be it farther enacted, That every slave imported into this commonwealth, contrary to the true intent and meaning of this act, shall, upon such importation become free.

IV. Provided always, That this act shall not be construed to extend to those who may incline to remove from any of the United States, and become citizens of this, provided, that within ten days after their removal into the same they take the following oath before some magistrate of this commonwealth: "I, A.B. do swear, that my removal to the state of Virginia was with no intention to evade the act for preventing the farther importation of slaves within this commonwealth, nor have I brought with me, or will cause to be brought, any slaves, with an intent of selling them, nor have any of the slaves now in my possession been imported from Africa, or any of the West India islands, since the first day of November, 1778. So help me God." Or to travellers and others, making a transient stay in this commonwealth, bringing slaves with them for necessary attendance, and carrying them out again.

V. Provided also, and be it farther enacted, That this act shall not be construed to extend to persons claiming slaves by descent, devise, or marriage, or to any citizens of this commonwealth being now the actual owners and proprietors of slaves residing or being in any of the United States and removing such slaves into this commonwealth.

VI. And it is farther enacted, That so much of an act of assembly made in the year 1753, intituled "An act for the better government of servants and slaves," as comes within the purview of this act, shall be, and the same if hereby repealed.

Bibliographic Information

Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 9, p. 471-472.


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