Although both states were involved in the Revolutionary effort, Virginia and Pennsylvania were also at war with each other over land west of the Alleghenies. This territory had been claimed by both since the days of their early charters in the 1600s.
During the Revolution, the land claimed by both states had rival governments, courthouses and militias. Pennsylvania’s Hannas Town was the seat of its Westmoreland County, while Virginia’s West Augusta County was headquartered at Fort Pitt.
Throughout the 1770s, rival justices and other county officials were arrested and held in prison at either Hannas Town or Fort Pitt. Each claimed jurisdiction over the other, and saw the other as illegal.
At one point, Pennsylvania Governor John Penn wrote to Lord Dunmore of Virginia that he was “surprised” at Dunmore’s claim on the land, enclosing a map showing it firmly in Pennsylvania. Dunmore responded by denying the claim and explaining it was part of his colony. Penn then wrote that he “request your Lordship neither grant lands nor exercise the government of Virginia within these limits.”
Going in person to Fort Pitt, Dunmore issued a proclamation that, “whereas the Province of Pennsylvania has unduly laid claim to … His Majesty’s territory…. I do hereby in His Majesty’s name require & command all of His Majesty’s subjects West of Laurel Hill to pay a due respect to my Proclamation, strictly prohibiting the authority of Pennsylvania at their peril.”Continue reading