[Ads-l] OT: Re: "slave"

Joel Berson berson at ATT.NET
Fri Sep 2 10:19:04 EDT 2016

I did bring it up,  obliquely and without making any point about it, when I wrote "When did the British first start soliciting American slaves to join their military forces with the promise of freedom, 1777?"  That was in response to Jon's writing "I don't think that "slaves" in instances of "hirelings and slaves" from the 1770s has the same meaning as uses in 1814 (by Key) and during the 19th century generally."  My thought was that the situation was the same -- the British had both Hessians and escaped slaves in their armies during both wars.  Key therefore could have been referring to both wars, and the Morgan State prof. would be half right.

I will write separately about the offer(s).

I doubt if freed black slaves from the Revolutionary period were still in the British Army in 1812.  For one thing, they were presumably promised freedom in some British colony.

For another, might ordinary soldiers have been discharged at the end of the war, and perhaps even enlisted soldiers released at the ends of their period of enlistment?  In the American revolutionary army, soldiers enlisted for one or two years, and many returned home after serving for that time.  (Washington complained about the lack of a professional army.)  Both Britain and the American colonies had a long-standing opposition to a "standing army", although I don't know whether that persisted in Britain into the 1770s.

Wikipedia's article "African Americans in the Revolutionary War"  is reasonable, and discusses those who joined the American side as well as those who joined the British side.  (As the article notes, many blacks on both sides remained slaves after the war.  In particular, Loyalists who evacuated from Savannah, Charleston, and New York took their slaves with them, some to the British West Indian islands, where they surely would have better living conditions than even in the North American southern colonies [irony emoticon here].)  Unfortunately, the article doesn't say anything separately and specifically about what happened to those blacks who had served in the British Army.


      From: Amy West <medievalist at W-STS.COM>
 Sent: Friday, September 2, 2016 7:07 AM
 Subject: [ADS-L] OT: Re: "slave"

I was expecting that you would bring up that in the Am. Rev. War that 
the British offered African slaves their freedom if they fought on their 
side, against the Continentals. I heard a bit on NPR from a Morgan State 
U prof. that that is what FSK was referencing in that verse. Now, 
whether that offer was still being used, or whether those soldiers were 
still in the British Army during The War of 1812, I can't recall.

---Amy West

On 9/1/16 12:00 AM, ADS-L automatic digest system wrote:
> Date:    Wed, 31 Aug 2016 15:02:17 +0000
> From:    Joel Berson<berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject: Re: "slave"
> Sali,
> Do you consider 1814, when "The Star-Spangled Banner" was written, as being during the colonial period of the US?  A very Anglo-philic stance, just what the British were still believing then?:-)  I would say there were "enslaved African-Americans" in 1814.
> Joel
>        From: Salikoko S. Mufwene<s-mufwene at UCHICAGO.EDU>
>  Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 9:51 AM
>  Subject: Re: [ADS-L] "slave"
> Just a minor correction, JL. From a historical perspective, there were
> enslaved Africans, not enslaved African Americans during the colonial
> history of the US or of the 13 English colonies. During that time the
> class of Americans was very restricted, even some Europeans did not
> count as Americans.
> Sali.
> On 8/31/2016 7:06 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>> >Former tennis star James Blake has explained to CNN that "The Star-Spangled
>> >Banner" is "a song that advocates the killing of slaves."
>> >
>> >The "hireling and slave" in the song, of course, are not enslaved
>> >African-Americans but redcoats, Hessian mercenaries, and cringing Tories.
>> >
>> >Proof? Read the lyrics.
>> >
>> >Of course, as D----d T---p has demonstrated, words don't mean much anymore.
>> >
>> >
>> >JL
>> >
> -- ********************************************************** Salikoko 
> S. Mufwene s-mufwene at uchicago.edu The Frank J. McLoraine Distinguished 
> Service Professor of Linguistics and the College Professor, Committee 
> on Evolutionary Biology Professor, Committee on the Conceptual & 
> Historical Studies of Science University of Chicago                  
> 773-702-8531; FAX 773-834-0924 Department of Linguistics 1115 East 
> 58th Street Chicago, IL 60637, USA http://mufwene.uchicago.edu/ 
> **********************************************************

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