AfriGeneas Military Research Forum
Black Loyalists- Britain
When, in 1775, some of the American states rose up in rebellion against the British, there were unforeseen consequences for enslaved people in America. Black soldiers (free and enslaved) fought on both sides in the American War of Independence. But when the British offered freedom in return for military service, large numbers of enslaved men flocked to join them.
Both sides in the war upheld the inhuman institution of slavery for their own enrichment. But they were also desperately short of troops. Because of this, in 1778 Rhode Island - the first state to declare itself free of Britain - voted that slaves who enlisted would be declared 'absolutely free'.
On the British side, the Governor of Virginia, the Earl of Dunmore, had probably begun to explore the question of slave loyalty when news of the Somerset case reached the American colonies. In the summer of 1772 the Virginia Gazette reported (wrongly) that 'all slaves entering England were free'.
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