1775 Lord Dunmore’s Proclamation
In order to hinder the rebellion of some American colonists in Virginia, British Governor John Murray, Earl of Dunmore, issues a proclamation calling loyal citizens to arms and offering to free any slaves who will serve the crown militarily. Perhaps as many as 2,000 slaves flee the plantations and take up Dunmore’s offer. The move outraged many prominent Virginians (loyal and disloyal) who supported slavery. They in turn issued proclamations that threatened runaway slaves with death. In the end, Dunsmore and hundreds of freed slaves were forced out of the colony but throughout the conflict the British kept offering freedom to escaping slaves whether they joined the army or not. When the revolutionary war ended, thousands of black slaves migrated to the loyal colony of Nova Scotia and slavery continued to plague America until the 1860s.