Oxford AASC: Photo Essay

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PHOTO ESSAY

African Americans in the Revolutionary War

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Give Me Liberty

Courtesy of Library of Congress.

In 1775 Lord Dunmore, the British governor of Virginia, issued a proclamation promising freedom to all slaves who rallied to the King's cause. Dunmore's proclamation was designed to encourage the defection of useful slaves without instigating a general slave insurrection. Around five hundred of the slaves who answered Lord Dunmore's call were organized into an "Ethiopian Regiment," designated by uniforms with "Liberty to Slaves" emblazoned across the chest. The regiment remained small, however, since many of the slaves who joined Dunmore succumbed to smallpox and other diseases. Pictured here is a runaway ad for a slave named Titus, whose master promised a reward of three pounds to the person who returned the young man to bondage.

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