By his Excellency John Rutledge, Esq., Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the said State.

Whereas, the forces of the United States having compelled the troops of his Britannic Majesty, to surrender or evacuate the several strong posts which they held in the upper and interior settlements, and retreat to the vicinity of Charles Town, and the enemy being therefore unable to give that protection and support which they promised to their adherents, left many of the inhabitants of this State, who had taken up arms with them (induced so to do by their artful representations) to become victims to their injured country; Whereupon, such persons to escape or avoid the effects of its just resentments, followed and remained with the British army, or lurk and conceal themselves in secret places: And whereas, the commandant of Charles Town having sent beyond sea, the wives and families (who were in the said town) of all the avowed friends of America, the several Brigadiers of militia were ordered, as a retaliation of such treatment, to send the wives and families within their respective districts, of all person who had joined or adhered to and remained with the enemy into their lines: And whereas, it is represented to me in behalf of the unhappy men who are with the British Troops, or scosting themselves as aforesaid, that they are now convinced (being reduced with their families to great distress and poverty) that they relied on false and specious engagements, and were flattered with vain expectations and delusive hopes, and that they are therefore anxious (if they may be permitted) to return to their allegiance and use their utmost exertions to support American Independence. On duly weighing and considering the premises, I have thought fit, by and with the advice and consent of the Privy Councils, to issue this proclamation, offering, and I do hereby offer to all persons who have borne arms with the enemy and who now adhere to, or are with them in this State, or are lurking or concealing themselves in secret places in any part of the State, a full and free pardon and oblivion for such their offence of having borne arms with or adhere to the enemy, upon the conditions following: That is to say, that such persons do and shall within thirty days after the date hereof, surrender themselves to a Brigadier of militia of this State, and engage to perform constant duty as privates in the militia for six months next ensuing the time of such surrender, and that they actually perform such duty; and do further offer to the wives and children of such persons, upon their husbands or parents complying with the condition first above mentioned, license and permission to return to their habitations and to hold and enjoy their property in this State without molestation or interruption, Provided, that if such persons shall desert from the militia service within the time above limited, their families shall be immediately sent into the enemy's lines, and neither they or their husbands or parents suffered to return to or reside in this State. Nevertheless, I do except from the pardon hereby offered and from every benefit of this proclamation, all such persons, as having gone over to or joined the enemy, were called upon by me in and by two several proclamations, to surrender themselves to a magistrate within forty days after the respective dates of those proclamations, in pursuance of an Ordinance, entitled an Ordinance to prevent persons withdrawing from the defence of this State to join the enemy thereof: All such as were sent off or obliged to quit the State for refusing to take the oath required of them by law, who have returned to this country: All those who subscribed a congratulatory address, bearing date on or about the 5th day of June, 1780, to Gen. Sir Henry Clinton and Vice Admiral Arbuthnot, or another address bearing date on or about the 19th day of September, 1780, to Lieut. Gen. Earl Cornwallis: All such as hold or have held any commission civil or military under the British government, and are now with the enemy, and all those whose conduct has been so infamous, as that they cannot (consistently with justice or policy) be admitted to partake of the privileges of America; notwithstanding which last mentioned exception, such persons if they be deemed by me, or the Governor and Commander-in-Chief, (for the time being) inadmissible to the rights and privileges of subjects, will not be detained as prisoners, but shall have full and free liberty and a pass or permit to return: At a juncture when the force of the enemy in this State, though lately considerable is nearly reduced, by the many defeats which they have suffered, and particularly in the late important action at Eutaw, when they are dispossessed of every post except Charles Town garrison: When the formidable fleet of his most Christian Majesty in Chesapeake Bay, and the combined armies of the King of France and of the United States under the command of his Excellency Gen. Washington, in Virginia, afford a well grounded hope that by the joint efforts of these armies, this campaign will be happily terminated and the British power in every part of the confederated States soon totally annihilated: It is conceived that the true and real motive of the offer here made will be acknowledged; it must be allowed to proceed, not from timidity, (to which the enemy affect to attribute every act of clemency and mercy on our part) but from a wish to impress with a sense of their error and reclaim misguided subjects, and give them once more an opportunity of becoming valuable members of the community, instead of banishing them or forever cutting them off from it; for even the most disaffected cannot suppose that the brave and determined freemen of the State have any dread of their arms. With the persons to whom pardon is thus offered, the choice still remains, either to return to their allegiance and with their families be restored to the favor of their country and to their possessions, or to abandon their properties in this State forever and go with their wives and children whither, for what purpose, on whom to depend, or how to submit they know not, most probably to experience in some strange and distant land all the miseries and horrors of beggary, sickness and despair. This alternative is now, for the last time, submitted to their judgment. It will never be renewed. Given under my hand and the great seal at the High Hills of Santee, this 27th day of September, in the year of our Lord 1781, and in the sixth year of the Independence of America.

By his Excellency's command.


(From Documentary History of the American Revolution, by Gibbes, Volume 3, pp. 175-178)

Doc ID: Gibbes, v. 3, p. 175a
Date: 9/27/1781

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