Proclamation Ordering Embargo
[30 November 1779]
Whereas the exportation of provisions from this state will be attended with manifest injury to the United States, by supplying the enemy, and by rendering it difficult for the publick agents and contractors to procure supplies for the American troops, and will moreover give encouragement to engrossers and monopolizers to prosecute their baneful practices, I have therefore thought fit, by and with the advice and consent of the Council of State, to issue this my proclamation for laying an embargo on provisions; and I do hereby lay an embargo on provisions, viz. On all beef, pork, bacon, wheat, Indian corn, pease or other grain, or flour or meal made of the same; to continue until the first day of May next.1 And I do hereby strictly prohibit all mariners, masters, and commanders of vessels, and all other persons whatsoever within this state, from loading on board any vessel for exportation, and from exporting all or any of the above species of provisions, by land or water, from the date hereof, during the term aforesaid, under pain of incurring the penalties inflicted by the act of Assembly intitled An act to empower the Governour and Council to lay an embargo for a limited time, except as in the said act is excepted.2 And I do hereby strictly charge and command all naval officers and others, in their respective departments, to exert their best endeavours to the end that this embargo be strictly observed.
GIVEN under my hand this 30th day of November, 1779
1. The embargo proclamation was reissued on 17 May and 17 July 1780 and on 19 January 1781. On 15 December 1779 Congress renewed its request of 21 August 1779 that the states continue or levy an embargo on “wheat, flour, rye, Indian corn, rice, bread, beef, pork, bacon and live stock” (Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (16 vols. to date; Princeton, N.J., 1950——). description ends , III, 209 n.; Journals of the Continental Congress, XIV, 986; XV, 1383).
2. “An act to empower the Governour and Council to lay an Embargo for a limited time” passed the House of Delegates on 29 October, and the amendments submitted by the Senate were accepted the next day. Forfeiture of ship and cargo was the stipulated penalty for violating the embargo. It, however, did not apply to ships laden with material for the military forces of the United States or its allies. Furthermore, with the permission of the governor and council, and after posting a bond equal to double the value of its cargo, a ship could carry supplies to “inhabitants of any of the United States … in real distress for want of provisions” (Journal of the House of Delegates description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held At the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg. Beginning in 1780, the portion after the semicolon reads, Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond. In the County of Henrico. The Journal for each session has its own title page and is individually paginated. The edition used, unless otherwise noted, is the one in which the journals for 1777–1781 are brought together in one volume, with each journal published in Richmond in 1827 or 1828, and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , October 1778, pp. 32, 36; Hening, Statutes description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; being a Collection of all the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619 (13 vols.; Richmond and Philadelphia, 1819–23). description ends , IX, 530–32).