Sir Henry Clinton's 1780 Proclamation to the Southern States

This is a drawing of a blank, open journal and a quill.

After the British captured Charleston, South Carolina, in 1780, Sir Henry Clinton issued a proclamation about loyalty. The proclamation would backfire, drawing more the American cause and widening the divisions within the citizen population.

A printed page of Clinton's proclamation
Printed version of Clinton's Proclamation Library of Congress


By Sir HENRY CLINTON, Knight of the Bath, General of His Majesty's Forces, and MARIOT ARBUTHNOT, Esquire, Vice-Admiral of the Blue, His Majesty's Commissioners to restore Peace and good Government in the several Colonies in Rebellion in North-America.


HIS Majesty having been pleased, by His Letters Patent, under the Great Seal of Great-Britain, to appoint us to be his Commissioners, to restore the Blessings of Peace and Liberty to the several Colonies in Rebellion in America, WE do hereby make public his most gracious Intentions, and in Obedience to his Commands, DO DECLARE, to such of his deluded Subjects, as have been perverted from their Duty by the Factious Arts of self-interested and ambitious Men, That they will still be received with Mercy and Forgiveness, if they immediately return to their Allegiance, and a due Obedience to those laws and that Government which they formerly boasted was their best Birthright and noblest Inheritance, and upon a due Experience of the Sincerity of their Professions, a full and free Pardon will be granted for the treasonable Offences which they have heretofore committed, in such Manner and Form as his Majesty's Commission doth direct.

Nevertheless, it is only to those, who, convinced of their Errors, are firmly resolved to return to and Support that Government under which they were formerly so happy and free, that these gracious Offers are once more renewed, and therefore those Persons are excepted, who, notwithstanding their present hopeless Situation, and regardless of the accumulating Pressure of the Miseries of the People, which their infatuated Conduct must contribute to increase, are nevertheless still so hardened in their Guilt, as to endeavour to keep alive the Flame of Rebellion in this Province, which will otherwise soon be reinstated in its former Prosperity, Security, and Peace:

Nor can we at present resolve to extend the Royal Clemency to those who are poluted with the Blood of their Fellow Citizens, most wantonly and inhumanly shed under the mock Forms of Justice, because they refused Submission to an Usurpation which they abhorred, and would not oppose that Government with which they deemed themselves inseparably connected: And in order to give Quiet and Content to the Minds of his Majesty's faithful and well affected Subjects, WE do again assure them, that they shall have effectual Countenance, Protection and Support, and as soon as the Situation of the Province will admit, the Inhabitants will be reinstated in the Possession of all those Rights and Immunities which they heretofore enjoyed under a free British Government, exempt from Taxation, except by their own Legislature: And we do hereby call upon all his Majesty's faithful Subjects to be aiding with their Endeavours, in order that a Measure, so conducive to their own Happiness, and the Welfare and Prosperity of the Province, may be the more speedily and easily attained.

GIVEN under our Hands and Seals, at Charles-Town, the First Day of June, in the Twentieth Year of His Majesty's Reign and in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty.



By their Excellency's Command, James Simpson, Secretary.

Charles-Town: Printed by Robertson, Macdonald & Cameron, in Broad-Street, the Corner of Church-Street.


Source: Library of Congress 


Related Battles

South Carolina | February 11, 1780
Result: British Victory
Estimated Casualties