Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Blair, John, Sr. (1687-1771) [Announcement of amendment to law on slave trials for capital crimes]

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC03970 Author/Creator: Blair, John, Sr. (1687-1771) Place Written: Williamsburg, Virginia Type: Document signed Date: 15 November 1768 Pagination: 1 p. ; 34.6 x 30.2 cm.

Summary of Content: Partially printed document signed by Blair as President of the Virginia Council and Commander in Chief of the colony to the justices of the peace of Buckingham County. Transmits amendments made to "An Act directing the Trial of Slaves committing Capital Crimes, and for the more effectual punishing Conspiracies and Insurrections of them, and for the better Government of Negroes, Mulattoes, and Indians, bound or free." Says the governor, and temporarily in Virginia the Commander in Chief, has the power to issue commissions of oyer and terminer to justices of each county empowering them "from Time to Time, to try, condemn, and execute, or otherwise Punish or Acquit, all Slaves committing Capital Crimes within their County."

Background Information: Provenance information is written in two different hands at bottom of document. States that the document was brought from Virginia during the war (probably the Civil War) by one of ...the sons of J.W. Swan who gave it to John Parsons. Was then presented to Stanley Brainard Medira on 27 March 1895. After Medira's death it was given to Newton Hood on 8 November 1940. Document has official colony wax seal attached to a piece of ribbon at bottom. This John Blair was father to the future U.S. Supreme Court Justice by the same name.See More

People: Blair, John, 1732-1800

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: Death PenaltyAfrican American HistorySlaveryLawRebellionSlave RebellionGovernment and CivicsAmerican Indian HistoryCrime

Sub Era: Road to Revolution

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources