[Ads-l] hirelings and slaves (UNCLASSIFIED)

Joel Berson berson at ATT.NET
Thu Sep 1 09:54:13 EDT 2016

Wilson wrote:
<BTW, how did the slaves get the word, in those days? Talking drums or drums of any other kind had long since been verboten <and the internet didn't yet exist.

In 1775 Bostonian John Adams was told by two “Gentlemen”from Georgia that “the Negroes have a wonderfull Art of communicatingIntelligence among themselves. It will run severall hundreds of Miles in a Weekor Fortnight.”

On Friday September 7, 1739, news that Spain had "declared war" against Britain reached Charleston, South Carolina.  (This was actually not a formal declaration of war, but rather the King of England's permission to undertake privateering against Spanish ships, but it was generally taken as equivalent.)  The news came via an article in an issue of the Boston Gazette that was carried on a ship from Rhode Island, and was republished in the Salem Gazette on Saturday September 8.  By late Saturday evening or early Sunday morning September 9, that news had reached the slaves who initiated the Stono Rebellion.  (An attempt to gain their freedom by escaping through slavery-free Georgia to Spanish Florida, as had many in preceding years.)  There were many ways blacks could have transmitted the news from the Charleston docks to the initiators, at a location about 20 miles west of the town, within a day and a half.  See my article "HOW THE STONO REBELS LEARNED OF BRITAIN’S WAR WITH SPAIN", South Carolina Historical Magazine, VOLUME 110, NOS. 1 AND 2 (JANUARY–APRIL 2009), pp. 306--321, esp. pp. 316--321.

I don't know how much presence the British had on the soil of the Chesapeake and Southern states during the War of 1812, but if they did a few handbills posted in taverns, or a proclamation by beat of drum on a town common, would have been sufficient to allow the word of the British offer of freedom to spread quickly.


      From: Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com>
 To: Joel Berson <berson at att.net> 
 Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 10:19 PM
 Subject: Re: hirelings and slaves (UNCLASSIFIED)

On Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 5:03 PM, Joel Berson <berson at att.net> wrote:

By the way, from what I remember, those former slaves, like those who joined the British side during the Revolution, were not treated well by Britain after the end of warfare; they were essentially abandoned.  But I do not have specifics at hand.

You don't need them, any more than the Brits needed the former slaves after the war was over, if they ever did. Offering freedom to the slaves, forcing the Americans to deal with slaves trying to escape, was probably never more than a ploy to interfere with the American "war effort," to revive a term from WWII, the last time that a war involved the whole country and not just the military-industrial complex and the soldiers at the battlefront getting their arses shot off.
BTW, how did the slaves get the word, in those days? Talking drums or drums of any other kind had long since been verboten and the internet didn't yet exist.

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain


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