[Ads-l] OT: British promises of freedom to slaves of Americans

Joel Berson berson at ATT.NET
Fri Sep 2 11:06:51 EDT 2016

The British made separate offers of freedom to American slaves in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

In the Revolutionary War, Lord Dunmore, royal governor of Virginia, issued a proclamation that "promised freedom for slaves of American revolutionaries who left their owners and joined the royal forces".  [Wikipedia, "Dunmore's Proclamation"]  While this applied only to Virginia, "British officialdom, however, never repudiated the proclamation’s message and soon established an alliance with black Americans that brought thousands of escaped southern slaves to the side of the British forces operating in the south."  [http://www.blackpast.org/aah/lord-dunmore-s-proclamation-1775]

"In April 1814 Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane made the British position official: All those who may be disposed to emigrate from the United States, will, with their Families, be received on board of His   Majesty's Ships…. They will have their choice of either entering into His Majesty's Forces, or of being sent as FREE Settlers to British 
possessions, … where they will meet with all due encouragement.  Cochrane then ordered Rear-Admiral George Cockburn to form the Colonial Marines, fighting units made up of refugee slaves."  [http://www.pbs.org/wned/war-of-1812/essays/black-soldier-and-sailors-war/]


 From: Amy West <medievalist at W-STS.COM>
Sent: Friday, September 2, 2016 7:38 AM
Subject: [ADS-L] OT: Re: "slave"

On 9/1/16 12:00 AM, ADS-L automatic digest system wrote:
> I am convinced of the "stronger alternative theory" presented in the Snopes article:  "the word "hirelings" in The Star-Spangled Banner refers literally to mercenaries and "slaves" refers literally to the enslaved, persons (predominantly black, of course)  in involuntary servitude.  That is, "hirelings" refers to hired British soldiers (such as Hessians) and "slaves" refers to black slaves offered freedom by the British if they were to escape from their owners and join the British forces.

By referencing both Hessians and freed slaves, we're both assuming that 
the make-up of the British forces <insert image of Redcoats in glam rock 
make-up here> during the War of 1812 is the same as it was during the 
Am. Rev. War. Do we know know that that is indeed the case? I was 
ignorant that the British made the same offer of freedom during the War 
of 1812.

---Amy West

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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