An act for declaring and asserting the rights of this commonwealth, concerning purchasing lands from Indian natives.
Hening, William Waller, ed. The Statutes at Large, Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, 1821.
Virginia's revolutionary government claimed an "exclusive right of preemption" over all lands within the bounds of its "chartered territory," including the lands north and west of the Ohio River. Moreover, the act made null and void every land transaction between individuals and the various tribes of Indians, or grants from English crown to any individual within the commonwealth, transferring control of all such lands into the hands of the commonwealth.
MAY 3, 1779
I. TO remove and prevent all doubt concerning purchases of land from the Indian natives, Be, it declared by the General assembly, That this commonwealth hath the exclusive right of preemption from the Indians of all lands within the limits of its own chartered territory, as described by the act and constitution of government in the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy six; that no person or persons whatsoever have, or ever had, a right to purchase any lands within the same from any Indian nation, except only persons duly authorized to make such purchases on the publick account, formerly for the use and benefit of the colony, and lately of the commonwealth; and that such exclusive right of preemption will, and ought to be maintained by this commonwealth to the utmost of its power.
II. And be it farther declared and enacted, That every purchase of lands heretofore made by, or on behalf Indian nation or nations within the before mentioned limits, doth and ought to ensure for ever to and for the use and benefit of this commonwealth, and to and for no other use or purpose whatsoever; and that all sales of the crown of England or of Great Britain, from any and deeds which have been or shall be made-by any Indian or Indians, or by any Indian nation or nations for lands within the said limits, to or for the separate use of any person or persons whatsoever, shall be, and the same are hereby declared utterly void and of no effect.