Monday, November 30, 2009

The Emancipation Proclamation of 1775

Link to: Secrets of American History

On November 7, 1775 the Royal Governor of Virginia, John Murray, Earl of Dunmore issued a proclamation offering freedom to all slaves and indentured servants belonging to rebels and willing to bear arms in the service of the Crown. The Earl of Dunmore’s proclamation anticipated Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation by some four score and seven years and was done for much the same reason, to cripple the ability of rebels to resist.

Lord Dunmore armed hundreds of runaway slaves in Virginia and formed an all black unit called the “Ethiopian Regiment” which performed distinguished service. The regiment marched under the banner, “Liberty to Slaves”. An estimated twelve thousand ex-slaves served with British forces during the American Revolution in such units as the Ethiopian Regiment and the Black Pioneers.

Some four thousand blacks who had served the Crown were evacuated to England at the end of the war. The presence of the black loyalists on British soil helped swell sentiment in Britian for the end of the slave trade and laid the groundwork for British abolitionism, which eventually spread to America.

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