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1 BLACK FLIGHT: TRACING BLACK REFUGEES THROUGHOUT THE REVOLUTIONARY ATLANTIC WORLD 1775 1812 By JENNIFER K. SNYDER A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE R EQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2013
2 2013 Jennifer K. Snyder
3 To Mom (my), Dad Lauren and Papa
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS First and foremost, I would like to thank my entire committee for their thoughtful c omments, critiques, and unwavering patience. My chairs, Dr. Jessica Harland Jacobs and Dr. Jon Sensbach, h ave my eternal gratitude. Thanks to Dr. David Colburn for his unwavering support Dr. Elizabeth Dale for pushing me along in this process Dr. Steve N oll for his wonderful advice and Dr. Lynn Leverty for always being a source of encouragement A special thanks to Dr. Liam Riordan and Dr. Brian Ward who advice and editorial guidance helped craft my two favorite chapters. Many members of the ou tstanding administrative staff at the Histo ry Department have worked tirelessly to keep me on t rack. Thanks to Linda Opper, Erin Smith and Hazel Phillips for their ongoing help Likewise, the Depart of Archives and History in South Carolina, the Georgia H istorical Society, and the National British Archive volunteers and staff who have assisted my research in countless ways. I am tremendously indebted to the fellowships and a wards I received along the way. The generous support of those listed below funded my work and made my dissertation possible. I would like to thank the wonderful staff at the Clements Library for the Research Fellowship specifically Brian Leigh Dunnigan many great finds in the archives. The O. Ruth McQuown Sc holarship was such an amazing honor; I sincerely wonderful suggestions and faith in my topic. Thanks to Gary and Eleanor Simons for funding the Dissertation Award in Early American History Dr. William Link for the Milbaue r Research grants, the Red Herring Award (a wonderful surprise by an anonymous donor named Mr. Barber), the Graduate Student Council for Travel grants, and the UF History Department for its overall funding.
5 To my family and friends w hat can I say other than thank you. For the countless hours you have given me, for the love, support and frequent eye rolling To my Mom and Dad who have carried me the entire way; Lauren Carl and Papa, this dissertation is dedicated to you. To my dear friends: Dr. Patrick C osby, Dr. Tim Johnson, and Amanda Allard for the gracious use of your time and editorial guidance. Dr. Thomas Berson without whose advice and help I might still be flound eri ng in one of his beloved springs To the countless un named and un thanked people w ho are not listed here thank you.
6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ............................ 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 8 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ .............................. 11 Atlantic Shift ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 17 Struc tural Outline ................................ ................................ .............................. 24 2 FREE AND ENSLAVED MOVEMENT IN THE SOUTHERN THEATER ................ 27 Lord Dunmore ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 31 Back To St. Augustine ................................ ................................ ....................... 40 Aftershocks Ripple across the Southern Colonies ................................ ............... 51 3 REVOLUTIONARY CHAOS ENGUL FS SAVANNAH AND CHARLESTON ........... 56 Black Unrest Grows in the South ................................ ................................ ....... 58 Black Experiences During the British Southern Invasion ................................ ...... 64 Regulating Property in British Occupied Savannah ................................ ............. 71 Black Activity in British Charleston ................................ ................................ ..... 87 4 EVACUATION AND EXODUS IN THE SOUTHERN STATES .............................. 93 Savannah Evacuation ................................ ................................ ....................... 94 Charleston Evacuation ................................ ................................ ...................... 98 Migration to St. Augustine ................................ ................................ ............... 101 The Florida Claims Commission: A Window into Black Experiences ................... 107 Slaves Sold, Migrated, Transferred ................................ ................................ .. 109 Runaway Slaves ................................ ................................ ............................. 112 Victims of Trickery ................................ ................................ .......................... 116 Arrival of the Spanish and Confusion in the Black Community ............................ 118 Exodus ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 120 5 BLACK DIASPORIA FOLL O WING THE REVOLUTION ................................ .... 129 Edge of Empire: The Mosquito Coast ................................ ............................... 134 Mosquito Coast Evacuation ................................ ................................ ............. 138 Exodus into the Caribbean ................................ ................................ .............. 142
7 Migration to Belize ................................ ................................ .......................... 146 The Bahamas: Another Caribbean Migration ................................ .................... 152 6 USE AND MISUSE OF EX SLAVES IN THE BRITISH CARIBBEAN .................. 161 The Question to Arm Blacks ................................ ................................ ............ 162 Early Attempts to Raise a Black American Caribbean Regiment ........................ 165 Plan to Find a Pacific Waterway ................................ ................................ ....... 167 Black Carolina Corps ................................ ................................ ...................... 169 Negotiating Control over the Black Carolina Corps ................................ ............ 172 Troops as Barrack Builders ................................ ................................ ............. 178 How to Distinguish Slaves from the Negro Corps ................................ .............. 182 Across the Caribbean ................................ ................................ ...................... 184 7 TREATY OF PARIS AND BEYOND ................................ ................................ 190 Treaty of Paris ................................ ................................ ................................ 192 ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 194 War of 1812 ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 196 Treaty of Ghent ................................ ................................ .............................. 201 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ....................... 204 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .................... 215
8 LIST OF TABLES Table page Table 3 1. List of Slaves requested by the Board of Police, 1780. .............................. 92 Table 4 ................................ ........................... 122 Table 4 2. List of American Families and their Black Servants traveling from St. Augustine to Philadel phia ................................ ................................ ............ 123 Table 4 3. List of Black Slaves Registered in St. Augustine 1783 1785 ..................... 124 Table 5 1. A List of Slaves Attributed to Sar ah Cunningham in a 1816 Census of Loyalist Refugee Settlers in Belize. ................................ .............................. 159 Table 5 2. American Loyalists and the Number of White Companions and Slaves Moved to the Mosquito Coast. ................................ ................................ ..... 160 Table 6 1. List of Seized and Condemned Slaves Registered in St. Augustine on July 22, 1779 ................................ ................................ .............................. 189
9 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the Univ ersity of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy BLACK FLIGHT: TRACING BLACK REFUGEES THROUGHOUT THE REVOLUTIONARY ATLANTIC WORLD 1775 1812 By Jennifer K. Snyder August 2013 Cochair: Jon Sensbach Cochair: Jessica Harland Jacobs Major: History Preparing to evacuate in the waning days of the American Revolution, British soldiers, civilians, and American Loyalists crowded into the last British held Atlantic seaboard towns of New York, Ch arleston, Savannah and St. Augustine. Thousands of free and enslaved Africans joined them, some freed by the British during the war, some still held in slavery by the Loyalists, some of ambiguous legal status. They were bound for destinations throughout th e British Empire. Few of their identities are known. My paper seeks to cast light on their lives. This dissertation traces the lives of black refugees through the South during the American Revolution and into the post war British Caribbean. In particular, it highlight s blacks who left South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida and were for ced to resettle in the Bahamas, Jamaica, and the Mosquito Coast. By adopting an Atlantic approach, this dissertation make s several contributions to the fields of Atlantic world and colonial American history. My dissertation shifts the lens south to understand how the majority of free, quasi free and enslaved blacks fared during and after the revolution, in so doing,
10 recover ing the free and enslaved black lives, which made up the diaspora that spread outwards from the American South into the Atlantic World in the wake of the Revolution. By uncovering these lives, it highlights t he ways in which displaced blacks experienced a multi directional Atlantic that repeatedly transcended th e b oundaries of nation states and e mpires. White and black lives were intimately intertwined: relationships between owners and slaves were neither simple nor static, and power dynamics varied across the Atlantic World. P robing the power struggle between en slaved blacks and white owners it examines the mobility and im mobility of enslaved blacks. As white Americans turned against each other throughout the Northern American British colonies, whites began to struggle against each other for control over blacks creating a multifaceted power dynamic wherein each party American revolutionaries, British, and African Americans attempted to gain control.
11 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION in June 177 9, as he stood on deck watching desperate black volunteers clinging to the sides begging and pleading for their lives. The Colone l, himself deprived of an arm during a previous battle in the Seven Years War ordered his British crew to hack away at the gr asping arms of the desperate and screaming unfortunates. The crew set to work slashing and clubbing frantic stowaways while other blacks, healthy enough to board the ship, could only stand by and watch the mutilation. Maitland left a trail of injured and d ead men in his wake as he sped towards Stono Ferry South Carolina 1 Some of those left behind either swam or rafted to nearby Otter Island where hundreds Such was the plight of many African Americans throughout the revol ution; most of these escaped slaves, those healthy enough to be useful to the British cause were conscripted into service while the rest were cast away often violently to face their fortunes against the unforgiving elements. The various black soldiers whom Maitland ordered to be evacuated, abandoned, maimed, and killed represent a significant, yet understudied population of African Americans who found themselves attached to the British during, and directly after, the American Revolution. Enslaved bla cks, lu red by promises of freedom in exchange for pe rson troop. M alnutrition and disease decimated the 71 st Regiment including Maitland himself, who contracted 1 Wilbur H. Siebert, "Slavery an d White Servitude in East Florida, 1726 to 1776," Florida Historical Quarterly 10 (July 1931), 3 23; Sylvia R. Frey, Water from the Rock: Black Resistance in a Revolutionary Age (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), 92.
12 malaria. 2 Deciding that transporting si ck and di sease ridden soldiers would slow troop progress Maitland demanded the remaining healthy soldiers evacuate Island, leaving black volunteer soldiers who were too weak or sick for the trek. Sick soldiers, t errified of being abandoned without provi sions or forced to return to previous owners, swam to the departing ships in hopes of salvation. R ather than c omplete the evacuation, the colonel ordered remaining ships to set sail. Both the healthy black soldiers who watched and their less fortunate bret hren comprised the same population that were forced to negotiate the tenuous path to freedom 3 The first years of the Revolution uprooted thousands of enslaved blacks providing the foundation for a con fusing and chaotic transition both to and away from Br iti sh rule. I n Virginia, the royal governor Lord in November 1775 offered freedom to any rebel owned black male who fought for the British and created an unforeseen opportunity for rebel owned slaves but it did not provide the same prospects for slaves owned by Loyalists. Shunned by British military officials, slaves in the South with Loyalist masters had very few options. Some tried to take advantage of the turmoil to elude belligerents on both sides, some stayed on the plantation, while many combined the two options running away for brief periods and returning later As the British fought for control over the south, many blacks returned to plantations were sold to pay off British debts, and a few hundred joined British ranks i n 2 Maitland died shortly the reafter. 3 Helen Hornbeck Tanner, Zespedes in East Florida, 1784 1790 (Jacksonville: University of North Florida Press, 1989), 49. However, in East Florida, similar incidents were reported of both free and enslaved black Loyalists who had evacuated to St. yet were then taken out of the province for sale in the West Indies.
13 th e hopes of finding freedom. 4 None of these choices afforded a safe or dependable alternative. The year 1783 was a turning point in the war, as the British acknowledged defeat ushering in the beginning of the largest evacuation in the histo ry of the Britis h Empire that time As they evacuated, British citizens began to forcibly move enslaved and free blacks along with many of ambiguous legal states, to the Caribbean in order to protect their property while Americans, realizing the potential loss of their w orkforce began to round up their former slaves While these stories are not triumphant depictions of the British Empire, they illustrate the varied experiences of Africans in this period. The American Revolution effectively expelled thousands of white Lo yalists from the newly independent United States, along with thousands of African Americans, many of whom had voluntarily joined the British war effort, and many of whom remained involuntarily enslaved to Loyalist masters. Many of the free black refugees s ettled in Canada and England. The most famous group of African Americans from the Revolution whose 3,000 names were recorded in the Book of Negroes (a listing of Africans shipped from New York to relative safety and freedom in Nova Scotia) escaped through New York to freedom in Nova Scotia. However, black southerners like the se in the above episode, were part of a much larger, more complicated and subsequently neglected story. 5 The majority of white Loyalists who wanted to retain human property, 4 In the edited collection, Empire and Nation: The American Revolution in the Atlantic World, Keith Mason succinctly summari zes the plight of British Loyalists and their slaves. endeavors to show how North Atlantic societies deserve further consideration. Historians have often neglected the end of the American Revolution and Empire and Nation attempts to bring the reverberatio ns of this event to the forefront. Mason makes several convincing points in discussing the "diaspora" of Loyalists in the Caribbean, as this strengthe ned bonds to the British Empire. I follow the fascinating ideas this short article has pointed out for future study. This dissertation hopes to understand how black migrants participated in expanding the geographical boundaries of the British Empire. 5 Ern est Graham Ingham, Sierra Leone After a Hundred Years (London: Cassius, 1968); Mary Louise Clifford, From Slavery to Freetown: Black Loyalists after the American Revolution (Jefferson, N.C.:
14 moved in to the British Caribbean, hoping to rebuild their personal fortunes on the backs of the slaves they brought with them. Plans for the Loyalist resettlement circulated as different islands attempted to woo the disaffected population. Islands like Jamaica, Ba hamas, and, central to this dissertation outposts like the Mosquito Coast issued recruitment plans complete with tax breaks, free land, and governmental assistance for white Loyalists This was a potentially devastating proposition for the transported ens laved population who faced a terrible choice: flee from the British and risk breaking up already tenuous kinship and community networks or confront the hardships of the voyage to and resettlement in the Caribbean. 6 The recovery of these black lives that d o not fit neatly into national paradigms will reveal heretofore unseen dimensions of the eighteenth century Atlantic World. My dissertation shifts the lens south to understand how the majority of free, quasi free and enslaved blacks fared during and after the revolution. 7 Historical works McFarland, 1999). In 1976, two books published on the subject i The Black Loyalists: The Search for a Promised Land in Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone, 1783 1870 and Ellen The Loyal Blacks These two works focused on the history of free black Loyalists who settled in Nova Scotia and their su bsequent migration to Sierra Leone. Several individual blacks secured certificates signed by British general Samuel Birch guaranteeing their freedom and a promise that a small plot of land would be waiting for them. Both works describe how Nova Scotia prov ed to be much harder for the immigrants than originally anticipated. Subject to racial discrimination, re enslavement, and exploitation, a sizable contingent of free black Loyalists chose to migrate to West Africa in 1792. Wilson portrays these events by f ollowing individuals in their journey through the British Empire. While Wilson ends her work in the 1840s, Walker continues the story through the 1870s, arguing that the migration of 6 In the 1970s, Black Diaspora studies developed in tandem with the rise of black history. Diaspora historical studies until revisionist historians focus on a more nuanced understanding of the agency and power relationships that fueled the slave tra de in its entirety. 7 The Negro in the American Revolution, Sylvia Frey reconfigured the historical landscape with her 1991 work, Water from the Rock. By shifting the discussion to southern soil, Frey moved the conversation from the simple inclusion of blacks to posit the theory that one essential conflict of the war was slavery fix this sentence She contends that three forces fought the
15 and/or genres taken singularly provide an incomplete picture of that African American narrative. American colonial and British imperial histories begin and end where the political and geographical boundaries are drawn, a nd in many cases, redrawn. The geographical division of differing historiographical traditions and the surprising mobility of black Loyalist slaves have simply prevented historians from fully examining the population. Traditional political history actually isolated blacks from the overall historical context that might have explained their movement. By utilizing an Atlantic focus, this dissertation will uncover previously lost black lives, illustrate varied mobility, show the intertwined nature of black and white lives and portray the different ways blacks became tools of the British Empire. The first contribution of this dissertation is finding these individuals and recovering their stories. The discussion of enslaved Loyalist blacks, however, is a difficult one. The standard terms Loyalist, slave, dia spora are only partially useful often used to discuss African Blacks w h o remained enslaved to Loyalist owners would not necessarily consider themselves loyal to the British cau se. Only in the instances when the British offered some hope for freedom would blacks consider themselves loyal to the empire In most cases, those were the Americans struggled against each other for land, dominance and the enslaved population. Sylvia R. Frey, Water from the Rock: Black Resistance in a Revolutionary Age (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991). Standard works on African Americans during the American Revolution include Benjamin Quarles, The Negro in the American Revolution (Chapel Hill: University of North Carol ina Press, 1961, reprint 1996); Ira Berlin and Ronald Hoffman, eds., Slavery and Freedom in the Age of the American Revolution (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1983); Peter H. Wood, "'Liberty Is Sweet': African American Freedom Struggles in the Years before White Independence," in Alfred F. Young, ed., Beyond the American Revolution: Explorations in the History of American Radicalism (DeKalb, Ill.: Northern Illinois University Press, 1993), 149 84; Gary B. Nash, The Forgotten Fifth: African A mericans in the Age of Revolution (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2006); and Douglas R. Egerton, Death or Liberty: African Americans and Revolutionary America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).
16 variety of imprec ise and contradictory legal distinctions bound in under the British imperial cause. Perhaps most importantly, this saga of recurring flight and settlement allows us to revisit themes of mobility, transnationalism, and ideas of diaspora close to the heart of much Atlantic World and Black Atlantic scholarship. In the American Revolution and its aftermath, the vast majority of blacks, especially those in the South, remained enslaved and subject to the movement of their masters, be they Loyalists or revolutio naries. However, refugee slaves belonging to southern Loyalists, unlike the slaves of Patriots, were invariably forced from the North American continent into the British Caribbean. at migrations or passages of the African American experience. 8 Indeed, mobility has been the unifying factor in the lives of Africans and their descendants, in various stages of f reedom and enslavement, across the Atlantic World. Whites and blacks were intimately intertwined. The relationships between owners and slaves were neither simple nor static, and power dynamics varied across the Atlantic World. During the Revolution, m any p lantation owners deserted plantations, leaving blacks to fend for themselves. Thousands of blacks consequently fled to cities seeking shelter, and, upon arriving, acted free. In such a period of turmoil and unre st, it is difficult to label a population tha t encompassed many degrees of freedom. Nevertheless, the story of the slaves who accompanied Loyalists out of the colonial 8 Ira Berlin, The Making of African Ameri ca: The Four Great Migrations (New York: Viking, 2010), 9.
17 South reminds us that celebratory histories of black resistance and agency in the Revolutionary Era need to be tempered by an appreci ation that white legal, economic, social and military power, as racialized instruments of exploitation and oppression, remained preeminent features of most black lives. Finally, the British institutionalized black flight and black military service as offic ial wartime policies during the American Revolution. Any understanding of black life has to weigh it against black agency in the face of this control. This dissertation w ill probe the power struggle between enslaved blacks and white owners by examining the mobility and im mobility of enslaved blacks. As white Americans turned against each other throughout the Northern American British colonies, whites began to struggle aga inst each other for control over blacks, creating a multifaceted power dynamic w herein each party American revolutionaries, British, and African Americans attempted to gain control. My dissertation answers the following questions by examining these intric ate Where did enslaved blacks of Loyalists migrate? What happened to runaway slaves who were promised freedom in exchange for military service? Did blacks who migrated begi n to identify with their own new and changing host societies? Atlantic Shift Atlantic World history integrates national narratives into a cohesive perspective by breaking down historical institutionalization of imagined divisions in landmasses. 9 A 9 Alison Games, "Atlantic History: Definitions, Challenges, and Opportunities," American Historical Review 111.3 (2006): 749. Ferdinand Braudel was the first to articulate this geographical concept in his
18 pitfall of respecting national boundaries is that in doing so, historians are prevented African various journeys strayed not only geographically, but also against the main east west migratory pattern established by the Atlantic slave trade The Atlantic Ocean and its shores were not isolated from the rest of the world, and so a focus upon an ocean, rather than a landmass, illustrates transformations unique to the Atlantic as well as th ose deri ved from global impact. The Atlantic, moreover, is a geographic space that has a limited chronology as a logical unit of historical analysis: it is not a timeless unit; nor can this space fully explain all changes within it. The lens of Atlantic World hist ory provides the theoretical structure from which to view this mobile enslaved population. Historians currently define the field of Atlantic studies as a more comprehensive alternative to the traditional nation state interpretation. Providing a view of reg ional processes within the contained unit of a larger, oceanic entity this theory allows the creation of a field in which historians might break down imagined political divisions in order to follow a truly mobile population. In general, however, sweeping Atlantic World studies have not always generated directional, sometimes atypical migrations that occurre d throughout the Revolutionary e ra and in other eras, too. It is only by close examination of how and why identifiable individuals and groups moved, or were moved, across imperial and state boundaries ( while also recognizing that those traditionally understood political configurations still had power to shape their monumental work, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II Berkeley: Myth of Continents (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997 ), describe how the division of landmasses into continents and nation states is a historical construction. Geographers and historians have since used this concept to shift the traditional historical focus from continents to oceans.
19 experiences ) that historians can truly understand the nature and meaning of mobility in the Atlantic World. 10 The stories depicted in my dissertation fit rather uneasily into dominant conceptions of the Atlantic World. For example, the eastern and southern migrations from the American Sou th run counter to the westward thrust of most Atlantic studies. At a most basic level, this reminds one of the sheer volatility and complexity of the Atlantic World and of the fact that Atlantic World models are useful in explaining thousands of a typical transoceanic experiences only to the extent to which they can accommodate such counter narratives and nuances. These kinds of multi directional Atlantic World migrations repeatedly transcended the b oundaries of nation states and e mpires. One attraction of Atlantic World and of even broader global approaches is that they can help to identify and explain precisely these kinds of transnational historical processes. 11 Yet, Atlantic World experiences were also profoundly shaped by national, tribal, and imperial p olitical and economic interests, legal jurisdictions, and military conflicts such as those which engulfed c ontinental North America and the Caribbean during the late eighteenth century. Juggling these twin interpretive perspectives can be challenging 10 Atlantic World theory developed as a general shift in the 1970s, influenced from the Annales school of thought; however its practical application tended to only inform historians working on the British North American subjects. David Armitage, author of The British Atlantic Worl d, 1500 1800 (Hampshire, New classified the study of the Atlantic World into three main categories: Circum Atlantic History, Trans Atlantic History, and Cis Atlantic History. Circum Atlantic History is a broad history of the Atlantic Ocean as a "zone of exchange and interchange" wherein historians focus upon the interaction of cultures around an ocean instead of a series of landmasses or nation states. Trans Atlantic History is the study of the Atlantic World through comparisons of differing groups surrounding the Atlantic Ocean. The idea revolves around using comparison as the unit of analysis in order to discover meaningful similarities or differences Even so, the Atlantic World model, for all its insights and utility, has yet to fulfill the ambitions of many of its advocates in moving past artificial national boundaries that have hemmed in historical studies. 11 Martin W. Lewis and Karen Wigen, The M yth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997).
20 and, for all its insights and utility, Atlantic history has sometimes struggled to move past traditional national and imperial categories. Certainly, much of the literature on free and enslaved Black Atlantic migrants is still largely conceived in terms of nati on states and other traditional geopolitical and political economic units, such as Empires. The two dominant trends in Atlantic History have been to focus upon the overarching imperial structures or to delve into the specific history of individuals, place s, or goods. The Atlantic is comprised of many micro histories that when placed together uncover a larger, bu 12 The interesting combination of an Atlantic world focus and these series of micro histories show s how a local foc us must be seen in articulation with the global. As Arjun Appadurai explains, "locality itself is a historical product and the histories through which localities emerge are eventually subject to the dynamics of the global." 13 These individual sinews recreat e the connections of the Atlantic; moreover, the spaces between these connections allow historians to grasp how people identified themselves within such a dynamic framework. Beyond the Atlantic The imperative to explore the Atlantic World mobility and the significance of successive departures and arrivals has been especially marked in Black Atlantic and Diasporic studies. Within these are highly politicized discussions about the extent to which early generations of forcibly transported Africans retained th eir traditional cultures 12 Douglas B. Chambers, "The Black Atlantic: Theory, Method, and Practice," in The Atlantic World, 1450 2000, ed. Toyin Falola and Kevin D. Roberts (Bloomingto n: Indiana University Press, 2008), 152 155. 13 Arjun Appadurai Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), 18.
21 or acculturated to Euro American host societies ( which were themselves in flux and being indelibly marked by contact with Africans as well indigenous populations ) The Black Atlantic offers the poss ibility of framing historical discourse in a new geographical and theoretical setting, ultimately locating national history within an empirical context regarding the relationship between North America and Africa. Gilroy argues that the Atlantic framework h 14 Gilroy takes the theory one step farther, focusing specifically on blacks. Thus, the Atlantic World can be seen through a black lens. a wide range of peoples and movement. However, it is th ose same broad strokes that obscure though its most comm on usage has been in reference to the scattering of Jews throughout the West the massive forced migration of blacks from the continent. 15 In the traditional definition, the dispersal of peoples is Thus, Lovejoy define s a d 14 Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Cambrid ge: Harvard University Press, 1993), 16. 15 African Studies Review Vol. 43, No. 1, Special Issue on the Diaspora (Apr., 2000), pp. 11 45.
22 th o se groups that tend to define themselves differently. 16 Distinctions between a Diaspor ic people who permanently and successfully rejected the influence of powerful Euro American forces and those who adjusted to those forces, risk over simplifying a highly intricate relationship between peoples of African descent and their host societies in the Americas. Christine Chivallon warns against the perils of the overarching diaspora concept, explai homeland. 17 While African s might share a homeland, what about their descendants born on the American shor es? It seems that the subsequent movements of people of African origin after the Middle Passage actually dilutes the concept of diaspora Every generation born farther from Africa will experience a weakening attachment to the ancestral homeland. The schola rly concern to identify and celebrate African ret entions in the New World can similarly distort the diaspora concept Of course, acknowledging the persistence of African traditions represents a legitimate and necessary remedy to older claims that African c ulture and sensibilities were wiped out during the Middle Passage, and that Africans succumbed readily to enslavement and completely accepted the values of slaveholders, contributing nothing except their forced labor to American and New World development. Yet, this should not obscure the extent to which blacks 16 Studies in the World History of Slavery, Abolition and Emancipation II, no.1 (1997): 3 4; staken Identities? Olaudah Equiano, Domingos lvares, and the Methodological American Historical Review 114, no. 2 (2009): 279 306; Gilroy, The Black Atlantic he Slave Trade and the Slavery & Abolition 22, no. 3 (December 2001): 25 31. 17 Christine Chivallon, The Black Diaspora of the Americas: Experiences and Theories out of the Caribbean, (Kingston, Ian Randle Pub lications, 2011), XIV.
23 inevitably and necessarily accommodated themselves to their New World predicament and even came to identify with and adapt certain attitudes and practices of their host societies. Without denying the importance of the ways in which generations of African Americans continued to incorporate real and inherited memories of Africa into their personal and shared histories, the tende ncy to privilege the idea of a d iaspora forever looking backwards to Africa a nd African traditions can come at the expense of studying how d iasporic and various host communities interacted with and endlessly reshaped each other. The point here is to recognize that all Atlantic World migrations, encounters, and settlements eventuall y played out in a series of compromises and fusions victories and defeats as reluctant and willing migrants sought to survive and, as best they could prosper in the New World. A pioneering exception to the scholarship here is Maya Jasa noff, whose work de monstrates how a transnational perspective on the Loyalist d iaspora reveals a migration of peoples that simultaneously disrupted and reinforced transcended and affirmed the power of the British Empire. 18 Historians of Loyalism such as Simon Schama and Cassa ndra Pybus have moved beyond the boundaries of an Atlantic focus following both whites and blacks exiled to Australia and India. Recent works, such as Schama primarily focused on the Book of Negroes have touched off a renewed interest in the racial asp ects of the American Revolution. 19 Epic Journeys of 18 Maya Jasonoff, Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World (New York: Knopf, 2011). 19 In 2005, Simon Schama reworked existing literature into his latest Rough Crossings: Britain the Slaves and the American Revo lution and a subsequent BBC DVD. Schama seeks to chronicle how African Americans exerted their newly won freedom, only to face the aforementioned extreme hardships of the greatest exodus from bondage in African African Americans sought eluded them throughout the British Empire in the late eighteenth century. See
24 Freedom: Runaway Slaves of the American Revolution and Their Global Quest for Liberty follows the arduous route of thirty two enslaved African Americans on their journey to freedom, beginning with their emigration with the British to Nova Scotia and the British Isles. 20 From there, this small group of blacks sought liberty within two v ery different colonial contexts Sierra Leone and the new colony of Botany Bay, Australia. By traveling from one corn er of the British Empire to another, these black migrants became part of a global black British Diaspora. Structural Outline This dissertation spans the years preceding the American Revolution and follows the trajectory of black displacement during and af ter the Revolution. The Revolution upset the delicate racial power structure throughout the American South as w hites, terrified of war, fled plantations while b lacks chose or were forced to stay or leave. These decision s w ere fraught with their own difficu lt repercussions. Chapter 2 follows this initial displacement. As rumors of conflict traveled the east coast, they led to unrest and desertion of blacks from plantations Adding to the tension, Lord Proclamation sent ripples of unrest throughout black communities in Charleston, Savannah and St. Augustine, which contributed to the chaos in the years that follow ed Chapter 3 follows these developments as they rippled through Florida and Georgia Simon Schama, Rough Crossings: Britai n, the Slaves and the American Revolution (London: BBC Publishing, 2005), 8. By presenting the American Revolution from the British perspective, Schama exposes the trans Atlantic connections blacks created. Schama is a master at synthesizing the literature ; however, his work does not provide new scholarship to the discipline. 20 By specifically using an Atlantic focus, the lives of enslaved African Americans could be brought to light, and yet by not using sources from Georgia and Florida, Pybus neglects a va luable demographic data. Pybus also comments that the British were the best option for enslaved Africans. She proves herself correct according to her data; however, the addition of St. Augustine would have broadened her research to include the thousands of Africans re enslaved by the British, showing how the majority of blacks who left the continent ended up enslaved.
25 between 1777 and 1780. Both Loyalists and Rebels began to raid the countryside, pillaging and burning plantations. In order to divide the rebel army and solidify control over the south, the British invaded Savannah in 1780. Marching through the Georgia backcountry and taking Charleston, the British held the s outh until its evacuation in 1785. Chapter 4 describes the way in which Charleston and Savannah, under British control, began to restore royal control. Once the British re established authority over Charleston, white Loyalists began to petition the newly r einstated government for property seized during the rebel interlude (1776 1780) when fledgling rebel governments seized a nd confiscated British property. Charleston, once again firmly in the hands of the British, began the long, arduous process of attempt ing to redistribute confiscated property. The British established the Board of Police, a governing body that heard and attempted to settle local cases ranging from petitions to sell property, grievances against stolen property, and attempts to regain confi scated property. In the process, the Board of Police sought to employ Africans, both slave and free in the service of the state. Charleston offers an example o f how blacks played a key role in the assertion of royal authority. However, the royal Charlesto nian government was short lived. In 1782, the British announced their evacuation policy. Savannah evacuated to Charleston, Charleston evacuated to St. Augustine and finally in 1785 St. Augustine evacuated into the British Empire. The w o the forefront many questions concerning the fate of enslaved and free African Americans associated with the British war effort specifically, how to dispose of free blacks who escaped to the British and what to do with seasoned black troops who had fought in the conflict.
26 Chapter 5 follows the journeys of a few thousand enslaved blacks from Charleston to the Mosquito Shore, in present day Belize immediately after the Revolution. Most of these black refugees were shipped as slaves, while a few hundred had already earned their freedom. Once the Mosquito Coast was evacuated in 1787, the majority moved south, while the others migrated to the Bahamas and Jamaica. Chapter 6 examines how General Edward Mathew, commanding officer of British troops in the Eastern Caribbean ordered 21 From here, the corps traveled to Grenada and stayed until 1788. The remnants of this company eventually became the First West India Regiment. By expanding the boundaries of the American Revolution, this dissertation traces how global dispersion of African Americans led to the creation of new Atlantic communities. In the process, it depicts the ways in which displaced people of African descent adapted, reformed, and transformed their identities and their communities and show how enslaved peoples were bound up in complex networks of circulation. This wider perspective also reveals the way in which blacks enslaved and fre e crisscrossed the Atlantic, thus complicating the conventional narrative of forced African migration westward in the transatlantic slave trade. 22 21 George Tyson, Jr.,"The Carolina Black Corps: Legacy of the Revolution 1783 Revista Interamericana 5 (1975 1976): 650. Note: Some sou rces refer to Mathew, incorrectly, as Edward Mathews. 22 The work of examining subsequent black migrations after the Middle Passage has begun in recent books as Alexander T. Byrd, Captives and Voyagers: Black Migrants across the Eighteenth Century British Atlantic World (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2010).
27 CHAPTER 2 FREE AND ENSLAVED MO VEMENT IN THE SOUTHE RN THEATER Since the early seventeenth century, Spanish F lorida had been a haven for runaway slaves from the British colonies. 1 Blacks used Florida as a shelter from slavery long before white Loyalists began to flee to the last British holdout in the lower South. The departure of the royal governors of South Car olina and Georgia in 1775 and 1776 was followed by the collapse of British authority in the South, placing those colonies in the hands of Patriots. The change in government brought wholesale adjustments for Loyalists and blacks alike. Patriots began to tar get Loyalists for example, tarring and feathering John Hopkins and Thomas Brown. Brown would later famously carried out his revenge as the head of the Loyalist East Florida Rangers. 2 Social pressure, coupled with the fear of violence, forced many Loyalists to move to St. Augustine, and in the process they ripped their slaves away from friends and family. Between 1776 and 1779, several concurrent developments took place, which combined to create a paranoid white population that wanted to control blacks throu gh propaganda and fear tactics. Stemming from a fear of losing control, the Rebel government cracked down on both the Loyalist and the black populations, unintentionally rousing blacks to flee to British St. Augustine, Florida, and a longtime black sanctua ry. The growing migration of blacks who freed themselves from plantations and ran to St. Augustine terrified white Americans so much so that whites 1 El Scribano: The St. Augustine Journal of History sh Sanctuary: Fugitives in Florida, 1687 Florida Historical Quarterly 62, no. 3 (April 1984). 2 While Brown may have sought vengeance against the Patriots, his activities were legitimate military operations. See Edward J. Cashin, Thomas Brown and the American Revolution on the Southern Frontier (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1989), 20 31.
28 responded by mounting three invasions of St. Augustine between 1776 and 1779. These large raiding parties we re able to steal or kidnap a few hundred blacks while driving the remaining blacks deep into the swamps. The chaos in the southern coastal region characterized the ultimate breakdown of the rule of law, beginning a cycle that led Patriots, Loyalists, and B ritish forces to hunt and steal slaves. 3 This chapter trace s the complex black migration streams in Georgia, South Carolina, and East Florida from 1776 through 1778 and reveal how enslaved and free blacks navigated the tumultuous waters of the American Re volution. Proclamation created an unforeseen opportunity for Rebel owned slaves; it did not provide the same prospects for slaves owned by Loyalists. Shunned by British military officials, slaves in the lower South with Loyalist masters had few o ptions beyond joining renegade groups, staying on the plantation, or escaping to coastal towns. Some slaves tried to take advantage of the turmoil to elude belligerents on both sides by running to St. Augustine, long rumored as a safe haven, yet none of th e available choices afforded a safe or dependable alternative. Crowded on a strip of land between the Florida swamps and the Matanzas River, St. Augustine overflowed with people, leading a few destitute British subjects to turn towards illegal means to mak e a living privateering. Just beyond the Castillo, the Matanzas River turns towards the ocean, creating a natural deep harbor that ships used 3 To read more about the chaos blacks experienced during the American Revolution, please see Woody Holton, Forced Founders: Indians, Debt ors, Slaves, and the Making of the American Revolution in Virginia (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999); Ira Berlin, and Ronald Hoffman, Slavery and Freedom in the Age of the American Revolution (Charlottesville: Published for the United States Capitol Historical Society by the University Press of Virginia, 2001); Frey, Water From the Rock ; Martha Condray Searcy, The Georgia Florida Contest in the American Revolution, 1776 1778 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1985). This dissert ation hopes to add to the literature by placing a focus on the southern Loyalist black population and the diaspora, which followed the chaos.
29 to carry white and black refugees. Until the British recaptured Savannah in late 1778, East and West Florida were the chief destinations for Loyalist refugees in the region. across the swamps and lowlands of South Carolina and Georgia to the urban refuge guarded by the Castillo de San Mar cos in St. Augustine. 4 Between 1776 and 1778, emigrants trickled across the swamps and lowlands of South Carolina and Georgia into the Loyalist haven protected by the Castillo De San Marcos in St. Augustine As a result, by 1783 the capital of British East Florida had swollen with approximately seventeen thousand black and white refugees. 5 As the population of St. Augustine boomed, so did the demand for land. Emigrants, who fled with their human and non human property, found St. Augustine overcrowded and un dersupplied. Larger planters relocated their entire slave populations and sought to re establish their former lifestyles. In order to continue their agricultural way of life, these planters immediately applied to the governor for large scale land grants. L and was such a valuable commodity that a few Loyalists attempted to bypass the local government by attempting to purchase land directly from local Native Americans, only to find the Native Americans more reluctant to part with their land. Planters, who we re able to obtain land through grants, purchase, or squatting created their own agricultural niche, though not without some adaptation of the methods used outside of this region. Available land was not suitable for the intensive agriculture practiced elsew here in the coastal South. Instead, planters looked to alternative outlets 4 Patrick Tonyn, St. Augustine, 30 October 1776, Colonial Office Papers (Hereinafter CO), 5/566, no. 27, British National Archives. (Hereinafter BNA) 5 The Journal of Southern History 55, no. 4 (November 1989 ): 580 3.
30 for slave labor, especially in the timber and naval stores trade with the West Indies. As East Florida Governor Patrick Tonyn noted as late as the fall of 1776, the colony quickly b ecame a major trader with the British West Indies, where the shortage of wood and other naval products such as tar, pitch, and turpentine created significant demand. 6 Florida, with its abundant natural resources, provided opportunities for Loyalist refugee s who migrated with their slaves. Slave labor was used to build a burgeoning naval export industry that supported the sugar industry in the British Caribbean. Not surprisingly, some slaves would themselves be sold and shipped to sugar pro ducing islands e ven Barbados. The export business became so profitable that once homeless farmers founded slave communities in the Caribbean. 7 Even as some wealthy landowners expanded their fo othold, thousands of Loyalists arrived as paupers, inundating East Florida. Loyalists from the backcountry of South Carolina and Georgia left their homes, property, and communities behind and joined new frontier communities in Florida. 8 For the most part, they saw St. Augustine as a temporary haven and hoped to return home in the future. Governor Tonyn believed 9 When Loyalists fled without slaves and property, they risked their livelihoods in order to protect their lives from roving American bandits and angry 6 Patrick Tonyn, St. Augustine, 1 November 1 776, CO 5/566, no. 29. 7 Patrick Tonyn, St. Augustine, 30 October 1776, CO 5/566, no. 27. 8 Florida Historical Quarterly 9 (1930): 31 2. 9 Patrick Tonyn, St. Augustine, 30 Octo ber 1776, CO 5/566, no. 27.
31 little hope of procuring an income and shortly became de pendent upon the royal Responding to an increasingly black population, the British governor Patrick Tonyn created military regiments and work groups ready to capitalize on the fresh pool of laborers. The British response to Loyalist and Am erican runaway enslaved blacks took multiple forms: military corps, barrack building, and even a commission created to deal with the population issue. The British endeavored to control runaways through governmental institutions, thus neutralizing the bla ck threat and co opting blacks for the war effort. Lord Dunmore arming his servants instigated a widespread, paranoid white reaction to the enslaved population reaching effects shifting social dynamics in the Flor captured the imagination, and pens, of historians for decades, must be explained in the context of Virginia, in order to understan d its role in Florida. Lord Dunmore While Tonyn dealt with black runaway s in St. Augustine, Lord Dunmore in the upper south came up with a completely different way of dealing with slaves arming British soldiers quietly snuck Dunmore remained. Shielded by nightfall, these soldiers silently raided powder from the Williamsburg storehouse and transported this valuable com modity onto the British man of war Magdalen The town awoke to find their store of ammunition gone. Vulnerable to attack from both British soldiers and slave insurrections, the government council
32 published a plea in the Virginia Gazette asking the Earl of Dunmore to restore the powder. The townspeople worried the increased British presence in Virginia inspired mutiny in the slave population. Concerned about the dual threat of "invasions and t themselves. persons [who] have instilled the most diabolical notions into the minds of our slaves, and that therefore the utmost attention to internal security is become the more necessa ry." 10 Expecting trouble from the now Rebel dominated Williamsburg, Dunmore increased his own protection by arming what the people of Williamsburg perceived as their greatest threat slaves. Once rumors of his decision to arm both his and any runaway slaves reached the provisional Rebel government, the Virginia Convention quickly assured the governor of his own personal safety. However, the convention generally recommended, by a Person of great Influence, to offer Freedom to our slaves, fears and crystallized southern white, specifically American fears of domestic insurrection. 11 Dunmore replied to the G azette explaining he had remove d powder kegs from the magazine 10 Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg) 22 April 1775. 11 For a full account of how Americans saw revolutionary blacks and even perpetuated this fear well into the Declaration of The Journal of Negro History 61, no. 3 (July 1976): 243 255
33 against Dunmore. After his written response, rumors spread of an insurrection in the neighboring Surry County. The local government demanded payment for the powder to bu y new supplies and protect the county from not only slave insurrections, but also the armed servants protecting Lord Dunmore and British regular soldiers who were in possession of the powder kegs. Angered by rumors relating to the British capture of the W illiamsburg stores, Patrick Henry, the famous beer maker and firebrand, organized 150 men from Hanover d Williamsburg, they numbered several thousand. The Governor, cowed by this show of force, agreed to pay for the powder. Henry accepted the offer and sent hi s troops home. Humiliated Dunmore lost his temper. Williamsburg resident Dr. William Pasteur heard the governor exclaim he would "declare freedom to the slaves and reduce the City of Williamsburg to ashes" if they disagreed with his governmental policies. He boasted he would have "all 12 inspired slave revolt. .all the 13 Writing to Lord Dartmouth, Dunmore declared he 12 Douglas Egerton, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993), 5. 13 Peter H. Wood, Strange New Land: African Americans 1617 177 6 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 116. Woody Holton. Forced Founders Ira Berlin, and Ronald Hoffman. Slavery and Freedom in the Age of the American Revolution (Charlottesville: Published for the United States Capitol Historical Society by the U niversity Press of Virginia, 2001); Frey, Water from the Rock Searcy; The Georgia Florida Contest in the American Revolution
34 slave insurrections. 14 John S tuart, the North American Indian superintendent, perceived the southern colonists concern over racial unrest when he wrote to Lord Dartmouth that 15 Stuar t continued with his duties, presenting several rifles to the Catawba Native American delegates in South Carolina. This inauspicious act enraged William Henry Drayton, an American Rebel who would become the South Carolina delegate to the Continental Congre ss. Drayton charged Stuart with attempting to injure the Rebel colony. Shortly thereafter, a mob ran Stuart out of town and into Savannah. 16 Reduced to some 300 Loyalist soldiers and sailors, Dunmore welcomed supporters of any skin color. Surrounded by a s ea of American rebels, Dunmore feared for his remaining loyal subjects and his newly armed servants. On November 7, 1775, Negroes, or others that are able and willing to bear Ar for British military service. 17 The proclamation was not a humanitarian act but a strategic one In actuality, Dunmore owned large numbers of human chattel and carefully limited 14 Governor Earl of Dunmore to Earl of Dartmouth, 25 June 1775, in K.G. Davies, Documents of the American Revolution vol. 9 (Shan non: Irish University Press), 204. Sylvia Frey believes that Dunmore did The Journal of Sou 49, no. 3 (August 1983): 378 379. 15 J. Russell Snapp, John Stuart and the Struggle for Empire on the Southern Frontier (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1996), 159. 16 John Stuart, the Southern Region Indian Agent, previously s tationed in Charleston, was forced to evacuate to St. Augustine in 1775. His sudden death in 1779 allowed Thomas Brown to fill the position. Wilbur H. Siebert, ed., Loyalists in East Florida: The Narrative (Deland: Publications of the Florida State Histori cal Society, 1929), 1:24. 17 Frey, Water from the Rock 63.
35 his proclamation only to able bodied, male, Amer ican slaves. 18 This strategy had a very real social impact upon the daily lives of enslaved blacks. Black communication lines would soon buzz with information as friends, family members, and even strangers dispersed the news of a possible escape route. Whil e might have unintentionally caused more hardship for men and women brave enough to cross enemy lines, it did offer hope to blacks who had been maltreated, confined, and even abused by fearful owners. However, hope could not stem the rising tide of whites desperate to retain their labor force. News of freeing slaves traveled through communication networks in the south. His actions sent rumors flooding down the southern Atlantic coast, which described a British eight thousand guns, and bayonets. .to America, to put into the hands of N*****s, the Roman Catholics, the 19 Communication networks informed whites and blacks alike of South Carol ina Gazette proclaimed that the British intended to 20 From this precarious position, Dunmore and the British Navy sailed the coastline encouraging slaves to join British ships. Soon, Dunmor 18 John E Selby and Edward M. Riley, Dunmore (Williamsburg, VA: Virginia Independence Bicentennial Commission, 1977), 38. 19 The quotation is reprinted here as it appears in the original document: South Carolina Gazette 29 May 1775. 20 Ibid.
36 21 By the summer of 1776, at least 800 blacks "willing to bear and, Virginia. As word 22 as enslaved men and women began to flee to British ranks, upsetting American leaders Blacks made 23 The Virginia Committee of Safety president Edmund Pendleton noted soon after unmore] in abundance, but I hope it is 24 worst nightmare was coming true; the British had ga ined an important ally, one that could topple the nascent revolt. This wishful thinking was further expressed in a letter .at an end, since it is now Public that he has sent off a sloop load [of slaves] to the West Indies, which has made others use every endeavor to escape from him, and will stop his further 25 By mid December, it was clear to Pendleton and the Committee of Safety that the number of slaves flocking t o British lines would continue 21 Robin D.G. Kelley and Earl Lewis To Make Our World Anew: A History of African Americans (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 101. 22 In contrast to the pre revolutionary pattern of young men making up th e greatest percentage of runaway slaves, those who fled to Dunmore were often family groups. 23 Wood, Strange New Land 116 117. 24 Frey, Water from the Rock 63; To R. H. Lee, 27 November 1775, in David J. Mays, ed., The Letters and Papers of Edmund Pendl eton 2 vols. (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1967), 1:133. 25 To Thomas Jefferson, November 16, 1775, in ibid., 1:131.
37 barring intervention. Consequently, on December 14, 1775 the Virginia Committee of Safety issued the following declaration: Whereas lord Dunmore, by his proclamation, dated on board the ship William, off Norfolk, the 7th day of November 1775, hath offered freedom to such able bodied slaves as are willing to join him, and take up arms, against the good people of the colony, giving thereby encouragement to a general insurrection, which may induce a necessity of inflicting the s everest punishment upon those unhappy people, already deluded by his base and insidious arts, and whereas, by an act of the General Assembly now in force in this colony, it is enacted that all negro or other slaves, conspiring to Rebel or make insurrection shall suffer death, and be excluded all benefit of clergy: We think it proper to declare that all slaves who have been, or tants of this colony shall be liable to such punishment as shall hereafter be directed by the General convention. 26 reversal the following year, which permitted militias to accept new free black recruits. In fact, by late December 1775, Washington expressed his concern over the success of spring, he will become the most formidable enemy Americ a has; his strength will increase as a snow ball by rolling; and faster, if some expedient cannot be hit upon to 27 h Navy. Among the approximately 800 slaves who joined Dunmore, some had traveled with their Loyalist owners. 28 26 in General Conve Papers of Edmund Pendleton 1:138. 27 Wood, Strange New Land 118. 28 Benjamin Quarles, The Negro in the American Revolution (Chapel Hill: Published for the Institute of Early American History and Culture by Universi ty of North Carolina Press, 1961), 113 115.
38 attem pted to join British forces. If British slaves could pass for American ones, the Dunmore Proclamation offered a clandestine means to freedom. In April 1776, the Virginia Convention ordered Americans in Norfolk and Princess Anne counties to move their slave in an effort to forestall black escapes. The Convention also mandated that the Male slaves of such suspected persons, above the age of thirteen, and also the slaves of the p ersons within the Limits aforedescribed, be immediately taken into the custody and safe keeping of some officer, at out posts in Norfolk and Princess Anne, to be conveyed to some place off Navigation, and to be returned to the owners after they have settle d at some secure place, upon the further Order of this Committee. 29 Americans began a two pronged effort to try and prevent slaves from abandoning plantations; articles written in newspapers slandered the British in an attempt to change the hearts and minds of escaping slaves, and Americans began to restrict their Colonists outraged by and nervous about the potential loss of slaves, tried to combat the rumors by printing letters and broadsides. These letters pointed out freedom was only promised to young, healthy men, and furthermore, if these men ran to British, the brunt of plantation work would be left to families, and more importantly, to women. Broadsides also reminded blacks that the English ori ginally brought the slave trade to America and that if the British lost slaves, the runaways could expect to be sold to the sugar plantations in the West 29 Revolutiona ry Virginia: The Road to Independence 7 vols. (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1981), 6:370.
39 Indies. 30 Virginia declared that any slave found trying to reach the enemy or in the military service o f the enemy would immediately be sold in the West Indies and that the masters would be fully compensated for their loss. While it is difficult to assess the reaction of a largely illiterate black population to these written broadsides and newspaper articl es, the actions of the slaves who seized their opportunities to escape illustrate the extent to which these ideas circulated in the black population. The few slaves able to reach Dunmore constituted only a fraction of those who were willing to don red coat s if only the British allowed them. African Americans were not necessarily pro British. Primarily, blacks regarded the needs of themselves and their families by taking calculated risks to support the side that held out the greatest hope to improve their lo t. Freedom, the cost for enslaved service was a price neither the British nor their Loyalist allies were truly prepared to pay. The wa r was a battle for the control over the black population W hether siding with the Americans or the British, blacks must have seen this struggle as an unprecedented opportunity to gain their freedom. However, both British and American whites took steps to re enforce white dominance over blacks. was the act that pushed white Americans over the edge as b lacks began to carry arms. The only plausible reaction, in this case, was to respond with violence. Word spread down the coast, carrying information implicating the British in a conspiracy to arm enslaved and free blacks. As word moved down the eastern sea board, Charleston and Savannah took different steps to fight both the British and the threat of a slave revolt. 30 Interestingly, the Americans differentiated themselves from the British, arguing that the British started the slave trade in America, when the de scendants of those slave traders were in fact Americans.
40 Back To St. Augustine Lord Dunmore added to the overcrowding in St. Augustine by sending a number of distressed loyal subjects, prisoners 1776. 31 The deluge of Loyalists triggered concern; however, as Tonyn wondered how could not possibly afford to clothe, feed, and hous 32 In exchange for support, Tonyn drafted the rapidly increasing dependant population into service, establishing and arming companies of prov incial troops, which provided work for the needy population and security for the colony. 33 Tonyn decided to put the black population to work as laborers, reinforcing the Castillo in case of attack or invasion. However, Tonyn began to worry about their expen ses after several months. His small colony could not possibly afford to clothe, feed, and house such a large force. In official correspondences, he complained the Earl of Dunmore sent from Virginia a Number of His Majestys distressed Loyal Subjects some P risoners of War, and some Negroes, all of them destitute, they also incur a heavy Expence for Provisions. A great number have also arrived in equal distress from Georgia and others from the Back Country of Carolina. 34 Not only did Dunmore send troops, but a lso a great number of blacks and whites fled to St. Augustine for protection. These people put great strain on the limited financial ability of the colony to provide for them, as they had nothing of their own. In order to 31 2. Florida Historical Quarterly 54, no. 4 (April 1976): 431. 32 Patrick Tonyn St. Augustine, 30 October 1776, CO 5/566, no. 27. 33 Siebert, Loyalists in East Florida, 9. 34 Patrick Tonyn to Lord Germain, St. Augustine, 8 May 1777, CO 5/557, no. 42
41 offset some of the expenses incurr ed by the colony by runaway and employed blacks, Tonyn began to use healthy Africans to bolster the military fortifications of the port city. As more enslaved men and women streamed into St. Augustine, forced to emigrate by masters lured by hopes of Britis h freedom or just seeking safety from raids, Tonyn .who may be trusted with arms, & 35 Tonyn believed they would be much better soldiers than the 36 Many uprooted blacks who volunteered or were forced to serve as soldiers were stationed to protect the same forts other blacks were forced to repair. Governor Tonyn Jonathan Furlong, the number of their slaves who might be entrusted with arms should 37 After gathering statistical in formation on the numbers of black refugees in the colony, Tonyn established his own Ethiopian Brigade, formed of four companies of enlisted black soldiers. 38 Many joined the Ethiopian Regiment or the East Florida equivalent, pledging to fight for the Britis h in exchange for a quasi freedom. Most regular militia units in East Florida were at least one seventh black. Blacks 39 Governor Tonyn explained to Lord Germain that his rationale 35 Patrick Tonyn, St. Augustine, 22 March 1776, CO 5/568, no. 7. 36 Ibid. 37 Wilbur H. The Florida Historical Society Quarterly 10, No. 3 (January 1932): 139. 38 Searcy, The Georgia Florida Contest 57. 39 35.
42 behind arming the slaves was to frustrate any invasion attempt by the Americans. of invasion, and will be at all times useful in keeping in awe the Negroes who multiply 40 The growing numbers of runaway slaves would help protect the last bastion of Loyalism in the southern states. Tonyn commissioned other militias as well. He instructed Thomas Brown, as lieutenant colonel of the East Florida Rangers, to recruit men from among the refugees. The governor initially planned to use this force to gather cattle in Georgia to alleviate Rebels. 41 In response to 42 Bryan and Brownson believed th the Castle [Castillo] the scarcity of provisions and the want of fresh supplies of many articles fr 43 The Rebels wished to reduce St. Augustine both for military gain and to prevent slaves from 44 So many blacks had 40 Patrick Tonyn to Lord Germain, S t. Augustine, October 30, 1776 CO 5/557. 41 Cashin, 49 62. 42 Allen Daniel Candler, ed., The Revolutionary Records of Georgia 1769 1782 vol. 1 (Atlanta: Franklin Turner, 1908), 12. 43 Candler, The Revolutionary Records of Georgia 93. 44 Ibid.
43 deserted the Rebels that the Georgia Council of Safety thought attacking East Florida was the only way to safeguard their property. Bryan and Brownson also argued that an att 45 In order to pay for this direct assault, the council members ate them 46 Plunder was surely intended to include assaults upon many black families. Tonyn reported that the theft of slaves was a from the first plantations they reached. 47 Tonyn sent several of his slaves to St. Augustine to help rebuild the Castillo in order to protect his own property. Others took similar steps to protect their valuable property, even when it meant fo rcibly disrupting kinship networks, communication lines, and established ways of life. Enslaved men and women who stayed on plantations, by choice or force, were victims of Patriot and Spanish raids including invasions of East Florida in 1776, 1777, and 1 778. The first raid failed, but the two later invasions succeeded in breaching the initial lines of British land and coastal border defences. While no attackers reached St. Augustine, they managed to harass the countryside between Savannah and St. Augustin e, burning plantations, stealing cattle, and grabbing any slaves within their reach. 48 45 Ibid., 84. 46 Ibid., 181. 47 48 the end of August 1778, a privateer entered Mosquito (now Ponce de Leon) Inlet and carried off thirty
44 estate on Amelia Island and from there composed a letter to Chapman describing the danger of losing our Negroes I resolved to quit the place which we did that night with all our Negr abundant consumption of shellfish and crowded conditions led to widespread illness. 49 A large R 50 Two or three days after arriving on Amelia Island, Taylor engaged an unnamed man to return to his emplo women were eventually carried off by the Rebels. The last of these four slaves was not taken, having been ren dered lame in an ambush and unable to travel. Not surprisingly, Taylor felt it was unsafe to return to the plundered and burned plantation on the St order to begin shipp ing naval supplies. This transient black community lived on Amelia Island for two months. Taylor describes how the Rebels plundered essentially every scouting parties had carried off fifteen prisoners since the first raid. Rebel raiders also drove the 49 William Chapman Folio, Treasury Papers, National Archives of the United Kingdom (Hereinafter TPNA) 77/3. 50 Patrick Tonyn, St. Augustine, 6 April 1777, CO 5/5 66, no. 35.
45 agent Stephen Egan and more than a hundred slaves from their plantation on the St 51 plantation located 52 These men, women, an d children were abducted and marched directly to Georgia. The plantation house and provisions were also plundered or destroyed. Forced to replace his stolen slaves, Wilkinson purchased additional laborers and resumed operations two years later. These newly arrived blacks would experience the same chaos that victimized the previous laborers. Incessant raids scared many plantation owners in the borderlands between Georgia and Florida. Charles Wright, the younger son of Georgia royal governor James Wright, rem James Wright Wright by rumors of freedom, safety, or simply food and shelter, slaves from across the area joine 51 Chapman Folio, TPNA 77/3. 52 Patrick Tonyn, St. Augustine, 18 July 1776 CO 5/566, no. 18.
46 of the 60th regiment in the hospital with the surgeon, and the sailors made their escape 53 On 31 July 1776, a ould not be sold, but that the other negroes taken with her should be sold at vendue by Mr. 54 Numerous smaller, unauthorized raids took place over the next few years a symptom of the growing scramble for moveable wealth in this borderland takin g a detrimental toll on the black population 55 Another brother, Jermya Wright reported that camp, leaving blacks at the mercy of the American rebels. Woodruffe b y creeping and hiding through bushes before break of Day following being the Eight of August surrounded this appearers camp on every side retreated to Ameila Island, and on this retreat the distressed negroes who had kept Garrison many months and fought on behalf of his Majesty and for so doing had d out of home dro ve [sic] from their Cornfields Plantation and necessarys of Life, were obliged to retreat with so much precipitation that many of the same poor negroes to their further distress lost of left behind them their cloathing [sic] and blankets, and this appearer was likewise so ock and such other provision as he had saved for the support of Life part on Cumberland and part on Amelia Islands 56 53 John Wilkinson, T PNA 77/17/16 ; Alexander Gray, T PNA 77/8/7. 54 Candler, The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia, 169. 55 Roger Smith University of Florida, 2008) 65. 56 Candler, Colonial Records, 220 224.
47 Many blacks, such as the ones described by Wright were mistreated by the British. Southern blacks did not have the same kind of opportuniti es as blacks in the north. Unfortunately, those freed by the British and given land in Canada tend to dominate the story. Whereas, these blacks who suffered severely from lack of food, clothing and shelter also dutifully fought for the British. Black exper ience during this period is completely dependent upon both the location of interaction and the British individuals themselves. The Wrights made a decision to saved themselves from the raid at the expense of dependant blacks, leaving them even more vulnerab le to raids. These abandoned blacks, like thousands of others, would begin to make their way to Florida. who flooded into St. Augustine seeking safety from Rebel persecution and backcountry violence. As a profitable, and more importantly, mobile form of wealth, blacks were prime targets for raiders. But slaves were not helpless. Many fled to East Florida fled 57 During the summer of 1776, large numbers of blacks began travelling to Cockspur Island located just north of Tybee Island on the Georgia coast. Edward Telfair applied to the Council of Saf blacks there. Telfair hoped to prevent his and other Rebel property from fleeing by 57 Patrick Tonyn, St. Augustine, 18 October 1776, CO 5/569, no. 26.
48 only as Mrs. Murray made an ap 58 In July 1776, a Rebel committee composed of Jonathan Bryan, John Houstoun, British cruisers. Their negroes are daily inveigled and carried away from their plantations. British fleets may be supplied with beef from several large islands, well committee was very concerned a 59 The growing number of defecting African slaves and Loyalists among whom was Robert Hope, a wealthy refugee from Georgia who resettled his slaves on a 5,000 acre tract of land clearly frustrated and alarmed Georgia Patriots like John Houstoun, who demanded an invasion of East Florida. For John Grimke, a major in the South Carolina Continentals, an invasion was needed t o prevent deserters such as the six hundred he reported fleeing to East Florida, from uniting with Loyalist refugees. 60 58 Candler, Colonial Records 200. 59 Ibid. 60 Gri m ke heard rumors that the British under Major General Prevost intended to attack Sunbury, Georgia as a diversion, while other British troops would march into Georgia to be joined by one thousand to twelve hundred disaffected insurgents from North and S outh Carolina. South Carolina Historical and General Magazine 12 (1911): 63 4.
49 News of the impending invasion reached East Florida before a force of twelve hundred Continentals began to march south in early 1777. Ge neral Augustine Prevost recommended a scorched earth policy to keep the outlying plantations from provisioning his own plantation, including two large frame houses, ever y outlying building and mill, 61 3 of them coopers and the rest Sawyers, 19 women all prime 2 of them House 62 These slav es were forcibly moved to the Black Creek estate to rebuild his plantation. They also recreated their own communities in the process. 63 slaves from the Rebels. Samuel Tims bought Talbot Island in 1774 and left the Mary Tims was pregnant when they set sail for Florida in 1777. After a disastrous aptain stranded all of his passengers, Mary and Samuel finally arrived in East Florida to find that Rebel raiders had destroyed their home, plundered their provisions, and carried off most of their valuable effects a year earlier. The overseer, however, ha d moved their slaves to another property south of the 64 61 Smith 62 Searcy, The Georgia Florida Contest 88 90. 63 Smith 64 Mary Tims Memorial, Treasury Papers, 77/17/8, BNA
50 As the Patriot forces made their way closer to St. Augustine, Spencer Mann, James Penman, and Lt. Col. Robert Bissett begged Tonyn to capitulate. They even surely worried not only about the loss of their crops, but also about their valuable slaves. Mann brought eleven black men and nine black women from Con necticut to St. Augustine for Edward Fenwick. Penman brought four black men and offered personally to meet the oncoming army with a flag of truce if it would help protect his property. These men were willing to set aside political ideology to preserve thei r wealth and protect their social standing. Luckily for them, the second invasion never came close to St. Augustine. 65 At the end of April 1778, Governor Tonyn received reports of a planned third invasion. Tonyn believed the considerable force of nearly t wo thousand Rebel troops 66 began raiding plantations only recently repaired after earlier attacks. 67 Among these thousand acre Padamaran Estate, wh ich after repeated raids in 1776 and 1778, was eventually destroyed. If any slaves remained on this plantation they surely were ripped from loved ones and sent to live under yet another master in Georgia, South Carolina, or further provinces. Simon Munro, a Loyalist, lost part of his slave holdings and sold the rest in Antigua after his banishment from Georgia in 1777. Prevented from travelling directly to 65 Patrick Tonyn to Lord Germain, St. Augustine, 8 May 1777, CO 5/557, no. 42 ; Charles Loch Mowat, East Florida as a British Province, 1763 1784 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1943), 87. 66 Searcy, The Georgia Florida Contest 107. 67 on the Southern Frontier, 1776 Florida Historical Quarterly 54 (1976): 439.
51 East Florida by American Rebels, he took a circuitous route sailing from the Bahamas, then to Jamaica Colonel of family after the British evacuation of Savannah, but was captured and held prisoner by the Amer icans. He claimed to have lost twenty beyond the twenty he was away in Savannah. 68 Thus, not only were blacks forcibly moved by Loyalists protecting their property, but raiders also stole them from plantations and vessels. This viole nt migration disrupted kinship networks and spread blacks across the revolutionary Atlantic. At the same time, blacks were able to capitalize on the chaos and escape by the thousands to the British to claim their liberty. Sometimes their bold action was re warded with freedom; more often, it was not. The British simultaneously freed and enslaved individuals depending upon the specific local circumstances. Aft ershocks Ripple across the Southern C olonies The British retaliated against Rebel raids. In a May 1 779 attack on All Saints Waccamaw situated between Myrtle Beach and Cat Island in South Carolina, Samuel 69 The Rebel owned slaves were placed aboard B ritish ships, presumably bound for a safe port such as St. Augustine or New York, but the ships 68 CO 13:26, folios 785 6. 69 To the Honorable Hugh Rutledge, esquire, Speaker, and the rest of the Members of the Honorable House of Representatives, Records of the General Assembly, Columbia, South Carolina Reel 1, 535 54.
52 never made it. Instead the ships were captured by two American ships from Massachusetts and their human cargos were sailed to Boston. In the meantime, Hasford a nd other residents of All Saints Waccamaw outfitted a seaworthy vessel with the intention of reclaiming their slaves. After pursuing the captured ships all the way to Boston, Hasford sought the return of his property Anthony, Old James, Peggy, Quash, Rober t, Affa Hall, Prince Hall, Joack Philips, Jack Puddy, George Rolly, and John Rolly or restitution. However, Massachusetts law entitled all blacks to freedom, and so Hasford petitioned Massachusetts governor, the famous John Hancock, to reclaim them. 70 Some blacks did find freedom in the northern American states and in British North America. For example, in 1779, fifteen year old slave William Winter left William Sams, a Loyalist turned Rebel who had acted as a magistrate under the British, in order 22 September 1783, Winter boarded the Aurora bound for Ostend, Belgium. That same day ano year Charming Nancy bound for Port Roseway, Nova Scotia. 71 Two recorded in the Book of Negroes before reaching freedom in Nova Scotia. Rebel Americans were not the only maritime raiders on the eastern seaboard. Since the British acquisition of Florida in 1763, Spaniards had been a constant threat to 70 I am not able to trace what happened to these blacks. Ibid. 71 http://www.blackloyalist.com/canadiandigitalcollection/documents/official/black_lo yalist_directory_book_tw o.htm ( accessed December 12, 2009).
53 plantations along that coast. In fact, it was their example that had led both enterprising Britons and Americans to cruise the Florida Georgia coast in search of plunder. 72 In 1779, Spain began to attack the southern coastline of Florida. In one instance, a St. Augustine) and rumors of the raid travelled up the coast. 73 After another devastating raid by Spanish privateers, Loyalist Alexander Bissett submitted a claim for compensation of £660 for the loss of his plantation and shortly thereafter moved his remaining slaves to a five hundred acre plantation north of St. Augustine. When East Florida was returned to Spain under the terms of the Treaty of Paris in 1783, Bissett sent eighty two of his remaining slaves t o Jamaica where they sold for £2,282. 74 The migration of planters, their slaves, and other moveable property to the apparent safety of St. Augustine became so large that the town, despite its relative prosperity after 1776, had difficulty adjusting to the influx. Governor Tonyn sent a operate with the Marine for the protection of that district, and to prevent the Planters removing, some having taken the alarm and to the very great loss of their constitution have fixed 72 In one instance, the British war sloop Otter and the armed schooner George sailed from St. Augustine in pursuit of a Rebel Cape Canaveral in a violent storm, but the crew survived to tell the story. Patrick Tonyn, St. Augustine, 20 August 1778, CO 5/569, n o. 62; In one instance, the British war sloop Otter and the armed schooner George lent storm, but the crew survived to tell the story. Patrick Tonyn, St. Augustine, 20 August 1778, CO 5/569, no. 62. 73 Historical Reflections 2 (1975): 51 67. 74 Indian River, unpublished summary for Canaveral National Seashore Historic Resource Study, 2008.
54 75 traints than the Laws of England have 76 In addition, as word spread about the flight of blacks to East Florida, Governor Tonyn became concerned about the legal system 77 St. Augustine, Savannah, and Charleston overflowed with black refugees that had arrived by various means; some arrived by their own volition having escaped their Rebel masters to join the British, while other enslaved blacks journeyed with their Loyalist masters or with the Loyalist raiders who stole them from British slave masters. Still others were simply sw ept up in the maelstrom. Many received freedom from the British upon their arrival in St. Augustine, but many more remained enslaved or lived in a kind of legal limbo. The border conflicts that characterized the first few years of the American Revolution were just the be ginning of the upheaval in the S outh. The chaos in the southern coastal region exemplified the ultimate breakdown of the rule of law and beginning a cycle of slave stealing raids and retaliatory counter raids among Patriots, Loyalists, and British forces. Loyalists forcibly move slaves to protect their property and maintain their lifestyle. Masters removed blacks from their families and communities in 75 I bid. 76 Patrick Tonyn, St. Augustine, 1 July 1779, CO 5/569 no. 79. 77 Ibid.
55 order to protect their assets. Raiders stole blacks from plantations and vessels, disrupti ng already tentative kinship networks and beginning the dispersal of blacks across the Revolutionary Atlantic. Tensions rose as black resistance turned violent. Whites attempted to maintain control, thus increasing black resistance and desertion and feedin g the cycle. Once the British Empire reestablished control across the south, African Americans simultaneously sought to capitalize on the chaos by escaping by the thousands to the British to claim their liberty. The British created individualized policies and institutions to deal with the large numbers of blacks, and the problem over what to do and how to deal with the larger numbers of quasi freed blacks was debated throughout the war and continued to be discussed, examined, and implemented after the Loya list ex odus into the British Caribbean
56 CHAPTER 3 REVOLUTIONARY CHAOS ENGULFS SAVANNAH AND CHARLESTON White Control and Black Resistance During the Southern British Invasion The three Rebel invasions, discussed in the previous chapter, had a very real impa ct, not just upon the daily lives of enslaved blacks in the borderland between Savannah and St. Augustine, but also on blacks in the surrounding countryside. These raids inflicted violence upon the black community in order to regain and maintain control ov er fractured communities. The raid s increased anxiety across the S outh. As rumors of an impending i nvasion swirled throughout the S outh, white American overseers began to punish anyone white and black perceived to be helping the British. Fear inspired viol Whether motivated by the rising tensions, paranoid whites, personal grudges or a combination thereof, we will never know. 1 While the last chapter focused on the larger off icial British structures, this chapter explores how the newly reinstated British government adjusted to the local conditions to control rebels and Loyalists, white and black. In the years leading up to the British invasion of Savannah in 1778, fear saturat ed the Deep South. Various local American governments passed laws allowing owners the right to kill slaves who escaped from plantations. The rebel government in Wilmington, North Carolina declared a curfew on blacks and banned enslaved persons from handlin g weapons. 2 British governments in 1 Written accounts from various sources indicate a rise in black resistance during the Revolution era. Comprehensive research indicates few records are extant, but if there were more at one time, most likely the accounts were either destroyed or lost. Without documentation of some sort, much of the black resistance during this era may never be known. However research does indicate that there was a rise black resistance in the yea rs leading up to the Loyalist invasion. 2 William and Mary Quarterly 3rd series, 37, no. 1 (January 1980): 79 102.
57 Charleston and Savannah also sanctioned an increase in police protection at night for fear of insurrection and coordinated attacks by blacks. Yet, blacks continued to resist oppression in the face of a volatile and increa singly violent white population. The British invasion of Savannah provided a release valve for the black population a distraction as well as a destination for the enslaved who had been too fearful to flee prior to the British arrival. 3 The newly installed British governments inherited a nervous Rebel American population, a revenge minded Loyalist contingent, and a black population harboring hopes of freedom. In order to control a larger segment of the population, the local British government began to take an interesting legal shift. Blacks began to appear as plaintiffs in the court records of Charleston. By offering nominal protections, the local British government in Charleston experimented with their treatment of the black population in an attempt to win the support of and thus control a segment of the inhabitants The 4 While local governments differed across the south, the short lived royal Britis h government in Charleston created its own solution to the black issue by co opting blacks in exchange for the mere hope of freedom. The 3 For a history of blacks in the court records, see Peter Michael Voelz, Slave and Soldier: The Military Impact of Blacks in the Colonial Americas ( New York: Garland, 1993); Brian Dyde The Empty Sleeve: The Story of the West India Regiments of the British Army (St. John's, Antigua, WI: Hansib Caribbean 1997); Roger Norman Buckley, Slaves in Red Coats: The British West India Regiments, 1795 1815 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979). 4 George Smith McCowen. The British Occupation of Charleston,1780 82 (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 19 72), 98. Most work done on the southern colonies in the revolution are local or genealogical studies. A few works look at larger geographical areas, see Jim Piecuch, Three Peoples, One King: Loyalists, Indians, and Slaves in the Revolutionary South, 1775 1 782 (Columbia, University of South Carolina Press, 2008). David Lee Russell, The American Revolution In the Southern Colonies (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2000); Robert Stansbury Lambert, South Carolina Loyalists in the American Revolution (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1987).
58 governmental experiment in Charleston is an early indication that official British policy would begin a slow shift to i ncorporate blacks into the larger social structure. The haphazard implementation of the shift would play out over the next 50 years, until the British abolished slavery in 1833. Black Unrest G rows in the South In the early years of the revolution, the ch aos of impending war provided increased opportunities for black resistance. Escape was the major form of protest. Incidents of escape clustered around the first few months of the revolution and seem to grow substantially in the summer months between 1778 a nd 1779 just before the British invaded Savannah. Black methods of resistance also included slaves acting violently towards white masters and attempting to free themselves, their friends or their families. Henry Laurens received many letters from his overs eer Henry Lewis Gervais describing These letters provide an interesting lens with which to view activity across South Carolina and Georgia. However, black violence did not just occur towards overseers and plantation owners; blacks, also targeted expensive property themselves. One very telling incident involved an enslaved man in South Carolina cutting off part of his own hand to prevent his retur n to the field. In June 1777, an enslaved driver, 5 5 John Lewis Gervais to Henry Laurens, 26 July 1777, in Collection of John Lewis Gervais Papers 1772 1801, 43:96, South Carolina Historical Society (Hereinafter SCHS .). To read more about Henry Laurens: David Du ncan Wallace, The Life of Henry Laurens, with a Sketch of the Life of Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1915); David. R. Chesnutt, ed., The Papers of Henry Laurens (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1968); and Hen ry Laurens and Philip M. Hamer, The Papers of Henry Laurens (Charleston, S.C); American Revolution, 1775 South Carolina Historical Magazine 79, no. 2, (1978): 75 80.
59 arch, so the overseer left. He returned shortly afterward to find that March had cut off part of his own s believed March By mutilating the only object March had control over, his body, March was truly able to express his frustration at his working conditions and to echo the ideals of a revolution ostensibly based upon freedom. March would never again function as effectively as his undamaged peers. Through such a meaningful gesture, March was able to regain some control over his life, albeit an exceedingly high price. Mar sentenced to the workhouse, Gervais sent March to Sava nnah to be treated and then lodged in a workhouse to recover from his injuries. 6 their masters. Colonel Alexander Innes, the Inspector General of Provincial Forces, brought th Mr. Gar against Rebel Americans in the future. 6 John Lewis Gervais to Henry Laurens, 26 July 1777, SCHS 43:96.
60 When plantation violence did not garner its int ended results, enslaved men and women began to run away. Rebels in Georgia and South Carolina rigidly enforced slave codes and remained vigilant in order to prevent blacks from escaping to the British. However, these slave codes did little to stop runaway blacks. Just a few days after insubordination might have inspired eight additional slaves to flee. Rumors indicated 7 Many other slaves migrated to the perceived safety of the coastal towns such as Charleston, Savannah and St. Augustine. Henry Laurens wrote to Ralph Izard in June 1777 d escribing how his Coastal cities, especially islands just outside of major port towns bec ame bottleneck points for fleeing Africans. Slaves continued to run away well into 1778. Gervais run 8 Laurens attributed the slave Overseers and Sometimes to. freedom with the British. 9 Slaves deserted plantations across South Carolina in numbers great enough to lead the legi slature to solidify the slave laws already in place. 7 Ibid. 8 The rest of the page was torn. John Lewis Gervais to Henry Laurens, 2 July 1778, SCHS Collection of John Lewis Gervais papers, 1772 1801 43:96 9 Henry Laurens to Ralph Izard, 9 June 1777, SCHS 11:350
61 Americans, terrified that blacks could aid the invading British army, took drastic measures; slaves deserting plantations could face the death penalty if caught. Gervais ordered the execution of a slave who had taken three women and two children with him 10 Gervais does not explain if the women and children were also executed or simply returned to their plantation. On June 19, 1778, Gervais wrote to Hen neighbor, Mr. Roderick saw March at the plantation near Mepkin. Exasperated, Gervais 11 Two weeks later, as the hot weather descended upon Charleston and the surrounding lowland, March and his companions returned to their plantation. The beginning of the document is unreadable, 12 describe if the runaways came back of their own volition. Gervais intended to give them both Insistent upon punishment, Gervais wanted to punish Doctor Coffee even though he 10 John Le wis Gervais to Henry Laurens, Aug 2, 1777, SCHS 11:414. This short description could have referred to a husband or brother attempting to smuggle his family away from the plantation. 11 John Lewis Gervais to Henry Laurens, 19 June 1778, SCHS 43:96 12 John Le wis Gervais to Henry Laurens, 16 July 1778, SCHS 43:96.
62 would be sold. Tradition dictated owners forgo punishment when selling slaves, but Gervais chose t hanged his mind about selling the slave. Instead Gervais 13 hardest labour he is able to times, either to see family or friends. Gervais permanently moved to Mepkin. While it was a hard, violent road, March navigated the compromise. Gervais also commented on aways. .from 14 and to sail it into Charleston. Ho wever, they also did not get off without punishment. A 15 Debat, an older man, was placed in a wo rkhouse until Gervais could find a buyer. In 16 13 Ibid. 14 John Lewis Gervais to Henry Laurens, 2 July 1778, SCHS 43:96. The rest of the document was torn and missing. 15 John Lewis Gervais to Henry Laurens, 16 July 1778, SCHS 43:96. 16 Ibid.
63 17 Whites grew in creasin gly intolerant of enslaved r ebelliousness specifically runaways. As a result, owners began to mete out harsher punishments. In February 1778, Pennsylvanian Ebenezer Hazard witnessed the recapture of a runaway slave near Pocotaligo, South Carolina. While an other slave bound the runaway, the master 18 After several fugitives belonging to Henry Laurens and other planters were recovered, John Lewis Gervais told Laurens that he would sell one of them as 19 A few days after this runaway slave report, Gervais wrote to Laurens descr ibing a situation involving a runaway slave named Collonel. Collonel was part of the original four who ran to 20 According to whites, Collonel was thankful to return home with a whipping; 17 Ibid 18 The South Carolina Historical Magazine 73, no. 4 (October 1972): 187. 19 John Lewis Gervais to Henry Laurens, 16 July 1778, SCHS 43:96. 20 For complete military explana tion of the Southern Invasion, please see: John Alden, The South in the Revolution, 1763 to 1789 (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University ,Press, 1981); Hugh Bicheno: Rebels and Redcoats: The American Revolutionary War (London, 2003); Dan Morrill, Sou thern Campaigns of the American Revolution (Baltimore, MD: Nautical & Aviation Publishing, 1993); David Syrett, "The British Armed Forces in the American Revolutionary War: Publications, 1875 Journal of Military History 63, no. 1 (January 1999): 147 164; David K. Wilson, The Southern Strategy:
64 historians can only wonder as to his disappointment of be ing caught. Plantation masters meted out harsh punishment across the south as rumors of impending war encouraged slaves to act out. However, in 1778, there were no longer rumors of war; the British invaded Savannah, finally bringing the hard reality of war to the south. Black Experiences During the British Southern Invasion On December 29, 1778, the British retaliated against the small scale raids of American Loyalists by launching an invasion that would eventually conquer the south. The British landed in Savannah, winning the city with the aid of one enterprising While Dolly was an unusual exception, he does show how the British utilized blacks through the next few years of in vasions. In 1779, the British moved throughout the backcountry of Georgia and into Charleston. After taking Charleston in 1779, the British possessed the southern states for the duration of the war. Until 1782, the British attempted to bolster their rule t hroughout the south by confiscating Rebel property, including slaves, for the funds necessary to extend their power. Both the Charleston and Savannah governments used blacks to rebuild and maintain public works while simultaneously extending protections by the court systems. For the first time in the south, blacks could take problems to the court and sue for protection or support. The British invasion of the South began on December 23, 1778. Sir Henry Clinton, the Commander of the British forces in America dispatched General Archibald Campbell, who had been an American prisoner for three years prior to his service in Savannah. Clinton hoped to bring Rebel Americans to their knees by squeezing the Britain's Conquest of South Carolina and Georgia, 1775 1780 (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2008).
65 country into submission from the north and the south. Perhap s due to the ultimate defeat of the British, historians tend to overlook how this moment changed the landscape for the enslaved and free black populations. Overshadowed by the more significant northern battles, the southern invasion has only recently gar ne red attention from scholars. The invasion upset traditional hierarchy by providing a white population seemingly more sympathetic to blacks. While works on Loyalists in the south have recently come into vogue most works give blacks a minor part at best. 21 T he British invasion intensified the revolutionary chaos in Georgia and South Carolina. The British captured and retained Savannah for four years and Charleston for two years. The arrival of the British fleet sent Rebel Americans fleeing to the backcountry with their slaves in tow. 22 American and British raiding parties took advantage of the chaos, stealing slaves from the countryside. Meanwhile, hundreds of blacks on plantations (either left by Rebel Americans or kept by Loyalist or nonpartisan masters) fled to the marching British army. Adding to the maelstrom, many slaves ran 21 To read more about the American Revolution in the South, see Robert Stansbury Lambert, Sou th Carolina Loyalists in the American Revolution (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1987); John W. Gordon, South Carolina and the American Revolution: A Battlefield History (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2003); John Drayton and William Henry Drayton, Memoirs of the American Revolution As Relating to the State of South Carolina (New York: New York Times, 1969); John Drayton and William Henry Drayton, Memoirs of the American Revolution From Its Commencement to the Year 1776, Inclu sive, As Relating to the State of South Carolina and Occasionally Referring to the States of North Carolina and Georgia ( Charleston: A.E. Miller, 1821); David Ramsay, The History of the Revolution of South Carolina From the British Province to an Independ ent State, (Trenton: Isaac Collins, 1785); Martha Condray Searcy, The Georgia Florida Contest in the American Revolution, 1776 1778 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1985); William Moultrie, Memoirs of the American Revolution So Far As It Related t o the States of North and South Carolina, and Georgia (New York: D. Longworth, 1802); and Edward J. Cashin, The King's Ranger: Thomas Brown and the American Revolution on the Southern Frontier (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1989). 22 Campbell to Tony n, 5 December 1778 and Campbell to A. Prevost, 5 December 1778, in Campbell, Journal 11 13.
66 Citizens of both Savannah and Charleston wrestled with what to do the growing black itinerant populat ion. Before and during the invasion, blacks were looked upon as human chattel and as a form of currency. However, over the next two years, British policy transformed the role and use of blacks in American society. Soon slaves became used not only as payme nt to soldiers, but also as public works employees who fixed roads and transported garbage. At this time, the Charleston Police Court began to hear black grievances. As the British situation in the war deteriorated, so did the progress towards emancipation that blacks struggled to create and maintain. As the war ended, free blacks were once again transformed into a mobile form of wealth, a veritable bond that evacuating loyalists moved into the Caribbean. Shortly after British General Campbell landed his fleet on Tybee Island, the British realized that a large contingent of American soldiers was preventing the two ided in accomplishing this goal. Unfortunately, historians know little about this enslaved man, then the property of British Governor Wright. Speculation still exists around his name, either Quash or Quamino Dolly. In addition, perhaps more interestingly, only conjecture can be made about his motivations for helping the British. Familiar with the low country swamps surrounding Savannah, Dolly knew of a cut through the swamps that would lead the troops directly to Savannah. After questioning the man, Campbel
67 23 The southern British campaign would have never been successful without the help of Quamino with few casualties (twenty six British were lost) and led to the capture of 450 Americans. 24 Some historians have discussed how Dolly must have shared this information out of loyalty to his masters. 25 This might be true; however, it must also be considered that he hoped that volunteering such critical information would lead to his freedom and the freedom of his kin. As the British marched from Savannah to Charleston, large numbers of slav es deserted plantations. Blacks fled the Georgian countryside, hoping to reach freedom once they arrived at the British lines. One slave owner from Georgia, Samuel Stiles .two of our most Valuable Carpenters after the capture of Savannah. Stiles claimed the return of only three of his slaves, and suffe red a significant financial loss. 26 23 Archibald Campbell, Journal of an Expedition Against the Rebels of Georgia in North America ed. Colin Campbell (Darien, GA: Ashantilly Press, 1981), 26. 24 Campb ell, Journal of an Expedition, 27 28, 110, fn.; Alexander A. Lawrence states that the slave GHQ 36, no. 4, (December 1952): 317. There is no mention of this in the British accounts, although it is possible Campbell later compensated the slave for his services; Coleman, Revolution in Georgia 121. 25 Coleman, Revolution in Georgia 121. 26 Samuel Stiles to William Telfair, 21 February 1779 Edward Telfair Papers, Georgia Historical Society.
68 owned in Georgia had been taken by the British, while anoth with him when he went to join the British. 27 Plantation owner Mr. Wright from Georgia 28 Rumors of the British march northward spread across the south, bringing 29 Oliver Hart observed in mid Carolina. Blacks who thought the journey to St. Augustine was too long and difficult now fled to Ge orgia. marched from Savannah to Augusta and then onto Charleston. As the British set off to reclaim the backcountry of Georgia, runaway blacks attached themselves to the troops in e xchange for providing services and aid to the British. These blacks were used as scouts, guides, cooks, diggers, and for any other menial labor the British needed. A few blacks also willingly helped hunt down stolen or runaway slaves with the intention to return these people to the plantation. Blacks thought loyalty to the British even at the would be repaid with freedom. 27 Nathaniel Hall to Benjamin Lincoln, 20 January 1779, Lincoln Papers Microfilm, Reel 3. 28 Mr. Wright to Benjamin Lincoln, 5 February 1779, Lincoln Papers Microfilm, Reel 3. 29 Oliver Hart to Joseph Har t, 16 February 1779, Oliver Hart Papers, SLC.
69 When word reached the countryside that the British were marching, Americans began to ra id surrounding plantations for anything of value including slaves. Prevost entire contingent of newly manumitted blacks. Lieutenant Colonel John Maitland was left in charge as abandoned by Maitland were wounded or too sick to travel. A large number of the remaining blacks tied t behind to face the impending punishment of their former masters. The British soldiers used bayonets to cut the former slaves loose, leaving them to drown. Other blacks either swam or rafted to West Indies and sold back into slavery by their British comrades. 30 Similar instances were reported in East Florida of black Loyalists, free and enslaved, who evacuated to 31 were removing Loyalist slaves to Purisburgh, South Carolina. The light infantry pursued the raiding party, but could not follow the group past the river. Eventually Campbell arrived at the riverbanks with his troops. Spying the raiding party, which was st ill very close to 30 Water from the Rock 92. 31 Helen Hornbeck Tanner, Zespedes in East Florida, 1784 1790 (Jacksonville: University of North Florida Press, 1989), 49.
70 his military unit as a way to lure the Americans to the other side of the river. needs: cooking, cleaning, digging trenches, and any other hard labor. One unnamed iam his 71 st Regiment to hide in the woods along the riverbanks. The group of blacks lead Ameri cans sent back the boats that the British regiment seized, rowed across the river and stole 83 slaves. 32 On February 11, 1779, Campbell camped just outside of Augusta, Georgia. As he was waiting for dawn to approach to light the way for his attack, he heard 32 Cam pbell, Journal of an Expedition 34.
71 33 Military historians have long since questioned the rationale behind town, le aving the town vulnerable to Rebel sympathizers. As the author who found this journal speculates, the reason may have been that he wanted to spirit away these had been outnumbered, blacks returned as slaves would have suffered gr eatly at the hands of their spurned masters. To add to the confusion, thinly through the woods. British ships also captured black men and women who were subsequently sold back into slavery. Benjamin Springer captured 116 slaves in the private war sloop the Juliana July 22, 1779, 166 slaves were registered in St. Augustine as seized and condemned property. 34 All of these people, men, women, children, were then under the governmental control in Savannah and were eventually sold by the Court of Admiralty to the general population in St. Augustine. Other blacks were simply caught by individuals and sol d off to the highest bidder. Regulating Property in British Occupied Savannah By 1780, the British soon controlled the entirety of the Deep South and attempted to regain Savannah in 1779, but did not succeed in winning the city back. With the British firm ly entrenched in the city, General Campbell marched through the Georgia 33 Ibid., 63. 34 See Table 6 2 for a list of recorded names.
72 backcountry and into Charleston. The British civilian authority returned to power. However, the British authorities entered into a tenuous social and legal situation between angry Brit ish citizens, defiant rebels, and citizens willing to change alliances in exchange for the safety of person and property. Another issue lay in wait for the British government what to do with the black population? The British used blacks in the building and defense of Savannah. Thousands of blacks had run to British troops across the south and followed triumphant soldiers into the city. Faced with a nominally free black population, the British set up the Board of Police to deal with these problems. As will b e seen, blacks played a pivotal road in defending Savannah, attached themselves to troop movements, and finally increased in numbers to prompt the local British government to deal with the black issue. On September 12, 1779, the French landed off the coast of Georgia and General British governor Wright replied with a request for additional time. His letter delayed the French attack for a month. These 30 days were of crucial im portance to the British; during this time all available free and enslaved blacks, both men and women, were ordered to fortify and repair the aging barracks surrounding the city. It was through their hard labor that Savannah was able to withstand the French attack. Savannah. A number of Rebels from South Carolina met the fleet on the coast after 35 The appearance of the F rench fleet and Rebel regiments sent the Loyalists in the surrounding areas scurrying 35 Frank Moore and John Anthony Scott. The Diary of the American Revolution, 1775 1781 (New York: Washington Square Press, 1967 ), 108.
73 for the safety of the city limits. Hundreds of whites, free blacks, and enslaved blacks moved into basements, boarding houses, and stables hoping for the protection of th e British army. Anthony Stokes, the Chief Justice of Georgia, wrote to his wife about his experiences just days after the siege. A few weeks later, the published his letter. nth long siege. Bombs fell, killing innocent civilians and slaves. Stokes had multiple near death experiences, which would have been typical for those who survived the siege. Stokes was in the process of moving his household, including his slaves, to Savan nah as the French were landing. 36 Bombs and shells would rip through houses forcing many people to take shelter which the negroes had then lately come down; and had they not luckily moved away, it 37 following day the bombings resumed. He hid with two of his slaves, George and Jemmy, k at the house. During this apparel, etc., that I brought out with me, and then remove d them over to Captain 36 Moore and Scot t, The Di ary of the American Revolution 109. 37 Ibid. 110.
74 38 The bombing continued. Yet Stokes did not want to lose the remaining pieces of property. He called out to his slaves assistance, and I was informed that mine, who had slept at the quarters, being frightened at the shell, had ran 39 with a shell, or shot in tow abandoned the trunks in favor of retaining his life. 40 Governor Wright realized the civilian population of Savannah was not safe. He ordered his slaves to make an encampment for Savannah refugees who had lost their houses in the bombing. As Stokes made his way in the middle of the night to the encampment, which was made between the Savannah and Yamacraw rivers, he fell into a trench close to the c 41 However, the British were able to hold back the French and American forces, who retreated a short three months after. Now that the British held at least governmental control over the region, both Savannah and Charleston set to work bolstering the British. 38 Ibid. 111. 39 Ibid. 40 Ibid. 112. 41 Ibid.
75 The British governments in Charleston and Savannah began to assert authority by creating a viable structure to organize the re won south. In the previous few years, loyal to the nascent American cause, re distributing British Loyalist wealth and even establishing new committees and law enforcement bodies. During this period, both governments became more involved in the personal lives of constituents and began to asse rt authority over the daily lives of the free, enslaved, and itinerant black populations. Shortly after acquiring Savannah, the British became concerned with keeping control over the fleeing population in the newly won territory. Having little experience with civil governments, the British set up new governing bodies to oversee the occupation and most importantly monitor all forms of property including slaves. The British legislature in Savannah resolved to create a General Committee of twelve people made up of two people from each of the six Georgia counties to oversee the property transition. The Royal Georgia House elected: William Walker and Walton Harris (Wikes County); Archibald Beal and James McNiel (Richmond County); John Twiggs and Daniel McMurphy (Burke County); Caleb Howel and Abraham Ravott (Effingham County); Joseph Woodruff & James Dunwoody (Liberty County); and Samuel Stirk and Charles Odingsells (Chatham County). Charleston and thereby South Carolina assisted by an appointed Board of Police and several commissions whose members were returning loyalists or had taken the
76 British oath." 42 The first Lieutenant General of the Board of Police was James Simpson Esq. The Savannah General Committee believed th Committee members searched for stolen property, reported their findings, and delivered any recovered property to the Savannah Council. In an a ttempt to stop the population hemorrhage of whites and, more importantly, blacks, the Savannah government issued Citizens who have fled from this State to the Northward to repair within the same, if in South Carolina within the space of thirty days, if in North Carolina sixty days, if in Anyone who refused to take heed of the Proclamation wo uld have their land tax tripled and the money would be used to support the British troops. The proclamation went on to threaten those who ran away in order to support the enemy, stating that any property sons as have been Ordered essentially renting blacks to Loyalists. While this proclamation does not refer s pecifically to blacks, it goes on to explain what would happen to property if American Rebels advanced into Georgia. If the Rebels e, to Such Place of Security as the Commissioners 42 Robert Stansbury Lambert, South Carolina Loyalists In the American Revolution (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1987), 132.
77 items, but also slaves. Concerned over Rebel slaves, the Council attempted to maintain control over Rebel slaves and Lo yalists renting abandoned property. a Committee for Absentee Estates and on August 18, 1781 authorized the committee to efit of the State, except such public works projects. One such project was a jail in Augusta. A hotbed of Rebel activity, as it had never been fully taken over; Augusta b ecame a focus point for the British. The British lost little time in building a jail, which had both symbolic and practical uses in the effort to bring order to the city. Significantly, they used black labor to build it. The Committee developed an idea to timber for a Goal, and if a Sufficient number is not obtained by this means, that they be 43 The Commissioners of the Sequestered and Confiscated Estat es were in charge of disposing of any property belonging to Rebel Americans. The Commissioners sold property to remunerate Loyalists dispossessed of large amounts of property. The elve 44 Angry at the loss of such an amount, the to 43 Journal of the House of Assembly from August 17, 1781, to February 26, 1784 Revolutionary Records of the State of Georgia Vol. 3, part 2 (Atlanta: Franklin Turner Co., 1908), 70. 44 Ibid.
78 understand where this money had come from and perhaps where it went to. However the question of where the money went did not stop the governor from authorizing the Commiss 45 While the Council dealt with the buying, selling, and renting of both land and human property, the British needed another body to oversee the newly conquered areas. The newly installed British government came to power in a very uneasy time. Both American Rebels and non partisan citizens were nervous about British occupation and retribution. In order to appease the population, Governor Campbell designed the Board of Police as a judicial body that received, heard, and judged complaints made by the m ixed loyal and Rebel populace in 1780. While it was intended as a temporary entity, the Board lasted the entirety of the British occupation. The Commandant was in charge of the occupying military force and its prisoners; however, each commandant generally left the daily governing to the Board of Police. Originally, a suggestion by 46 The Board held a dual role, advising the militar y commandant and as a court for resolving personal and financial grievances. The mercantile interests, and military officers representing the British forces governing the 47 conducting the Civil Polity, until the Reins of Government with Propriety be resigned to 45 Ibid., 71. 46 Ibid. 47 Ibid.
79 48 For almost two years, British colonial ad ministrators heard cases relating to day to day activities, and even heard cases brought forth by blacks. Once the British came to power, the many people stepped forward with grievances from the previous five years. Both British and American whites began t he process of using the courts to claim stolen or damaged property. This widespread British government was installed, the Board of Police declared Rebel slave sales illegal 49 have been a nanny or a housemaid, but Night had purchased her at an illegal sale. Therefo re, Leuy was returned to Smith Claradom. The Board of Police began to deal with these illegal sales, as one way to prove their legitimacy. Property disputes and inheritance became the main function of the Board. The Board also stepped beyond just property disputes as blacks in Charleston began utilizing the Court system. Once the court heard black grievances, it also began to expand into black communities and lives. In its relatively short existence, the Board ruled on a wide range of cases including petit ions to sell property, grievances against stolen property, and arguments over confiscated property. Charleston was placed under the jurisdiction of a military commandant during the British occupation, the first of which was Brigadier General James Patterso n, who was later succeeded by Nisbet Balfour 48 Miscellaneous Proceedings of the B oard of Police, 1780 1782, CO 5/520; Miscellaneous Records, 11 July 1790, South Carolina Department of Archives and History (Hereinafter SCDAH ). 49 Ibid.
80 and finally by Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Allen who only served during the last few months before the evacuation. One of the first cases the Council dealt with was the question over what to do with the numerous b lacks who followed the British army into Charleston. On Tuesday June 13, 1780, at a Council meeting overseen by James Simpson, Alexander Wright, and Robert William Powell, the Commandant informed the Board about several matters relating to blacks. William represented the military. 50 Lieutenant Governor William Bull replaced Simpson, who Gordon, Assistant Justice Edward Savage, Thomas Irving, and James Johnson. The Commandant, James Simpson, complained of the m 51 Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton, who had witnessed large numbers of blacks following British troops into of any American masters, and entirely released from servitude. .they quitted the plantations, 52 The newly created board had so many issues with blacks that 50 Tarleton, A History of the Campaigns of 1780 and 1781, in the Southern Provinces of North America (Lo ndon: Printed for T. Cadell, 1787), 89 92. 51 Ibid. 52 Ibid
81 recently runaway population back to their masters. The Commandant asked th e uncil Masters for any Offences which the Master might think was committed by the Slaves in the Another issue that vexed the Council was what to do with errant blacks wandering th e element to work. Simpson proposed to the Council to return blacks to their masters. The Council voted to .[to] take care of all the slaves who have come into the s to their have their slaves returned. Once the Council was satisfied the black man or woman
82 53 punished a slave who ran away, the Council would seize the enslaved person. Any slaves who ran from their Loyalist master and were returned only to receive punishment [ were paid one shilling a day. The first project the Council utilized the contingent of British and followed the army as it triumphantly captured Charleston now found themselves fed only rice and forced to work on public works projects. Once again, these men and women were subjugated and humiliated by those who lured them into service with the promise of freedom only to force them to labor until their former masters cou ld claim them. When American masters finally claimed the deserter blacks, the Board of Police issued a request for citizens to donate their blacks for the repairing of Charleston should, at this time, be employed to repair the Fortifications and for other works in 53 Miscellaneous Records, 7 November 1780, SCDAH; Miscellaneous Proceedings of the Board of Police, 1780 1782, CO 5/520.
83 54 The Board did not to have the money to pay for this labo r. Instead the span of one month. The Board issued a request for ten slaves each from Thomas Bea, John Mathews, Philip Smith, Wm Clay Snipes, and Joseph Glover; 15 sl aves each from William Skuriy and Thomas Osborne; and 20 slaves from Thomas Ferguson. The slaves 55 These overseers would also be well taken c are of 56 The Board of Police did not just employ slaves, but also oversaw the shipment l Negroe[s], the Property of various Persons, Inhabitants of this Province, having been carried off the same by Masters of Trading vessels and 57 The Board of Police ruled that ships would receive a L 50 fine if they did not comply with the two acts the General Assembly passed regarding the entrance of ships into Charleston. The Board of Police had no authority or money to find and return these blacks to their rightful owners and instead opted to hand d own fines in an attempt to discourage further practice. Owners such as John Majory, began to request permission of the Board of Police to carry off or 54 Ibid. 55 Ibid. See Table 3.1 56 Ibid. 57 Miscellaneous Records, 29 August 1780, SCDAH; Miscellaneous Proceedings of the Board of Police, 1780 1782, CO 5/520.
84 sell their slaves to the West Indies. Majory wished to migrate forcibly three or four of his own slaves. but at present makes no Claim for them as they are not taken away. Some are in Jamaica & the rest are in Charlestown in the hands of his Agent. He believes they permit his Age 58 What the Board of Police termed an illegal sale might have been a proper public auction of war booty under the American government. Because McKinnon was a Loyalist, the sale was deeme d illegal and Weyman was forced to provide compensation. The Board dealt with many disputes that involved illegal sales and this is an example of how this new institution was attempting to re organize black and white lives and determining the future of thi s family. Charles William McKinnon was a staunch Loyalist who was forced to leave South Carolina when the Rebels installed a new government. McKinnon sailed the Clarissa with his slaves bound for the Loyalist haven of St. Augustine. While awaiting the tide s off the sand bar in St. Augustine, an American vessel under Captain 58 Daniel Parker Coke, The Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists (Oxford: Printed for presentation to the members of the Roxburghe club by H. Hart, at the University press, 1915), 96 97. Kingsley was born in Bristol, England, the second of eight children to Zephaniah Kingsley, Sr., a Quaker from London, and Isabella Johnstone of Scotland. The elder Kingsley moved his family to the Colony of Sou th Carolina in 1770. His son was educated in London during the 1780s; Zephaniah Kingsley, Sr. purchased a rice plantation near Savannah, Georgia and several other properties throughout the colonies and Caribbean islands, owning probably around 200 slaves i n all. Like other British loyalists, Kingsley, Sr. was forced to leave South Carolina without his family, for New Brunswick, Canada in 1782 following the American Revolutionary War. Zephaniah Kingsley, Jr. returned to Charleston, South Carolina in 1793, sw ore his allegiance to the United States, and began a career as a shipping merchant. His first ventures were in Haiti, during the Haitian Revolution where coffee dominated his interests. He lived in Haiti for a brief period while the fledgling nation was de veloping a social system of former slaves transitioning into free citizens. Kingsley traveled frequently, prompted by recurring political unrest among the Caribbean islands. The instability affected his business interests but a sharp increase in demand for slaves in the Southern U.S. occurred around the same time and Kingsley began to travel to West Africa to procure Africans to be traded as slaves between America, Brazil, and the West Indies. In 1798 he became a Danish citizen in the Danish West Indies; he continued to make his living trading slaves and shipping other goods into the nineteenth century. He became a citizen of Spanish Florida in 1803.
85 Turpin captured the ship and returned her to Charleston, South Carolina. The American the ship. T he slaves were placed for sale at a public auction. Edward Weyman bought 59 Weyman refused to retur 60 The Board of Police ruled that these Negroes were British governments in both states also attempted to preside over legal slave sales, condemning some property for the auction block. John Berrick, a debtor absent 61 In order to pay off his debt the Board of Police seized what could have been a black family or, at the very least, a debt accordingly. By dealing with property in this way, the Board inserted itself into these property disputes and used slaves and property to buttress the wealth of Loyalists. Unfortunately, British organization came at the expense of Rebels and the loss of freedom for blacks. 59 Miscellaneous Records, 6 November 1780, SCDAH; Miscellaneous Proceedings of the Board of Police, 1780 1782, CO 5/520. 60 Ibid. 61 Ibid.
86 Rulings over debt cases could bring about violence from losing litigants as Samuel Gruber, the deputy under the sheriff James Brisbane, found out. Gruber alleged that he was ordered to seize a black man named Edmand who had previously been the and taken out of his possession by Captain Mec Campbell of the South Carolina 62 y freed black. 63 This violent threat was enough to preve nt Gruber from executing his assigned seizure and Edmand became the recognized legal property of Campbell. The Council also dealt with many individuals who felt the late Rebel government treated them unfairly by thwarting rightful executions of wills and deeds. Robert Barnard Elliot withheld a considerable number of blacks from transferring into his the 64 62 Miscellaneous Records, 7 November 1780, SCDAH; Miscellaneous Proceedings of the Board of Police, 1780 1782, CO 5/520. 63 Miscellaneous Records, 23 October 1781, SCDAH; Miscellaneous Proceedings of the Board of Police, 1 780 1782, CO 5/523. 64 Miscellaneous Records, 11 July 1780, SCDAH; Miscellaneous Proceedings of the Board of Police, 1780 1782, CO 5/520. Thomas Law Elliot bequeathed his estate to his son and daughter. The son died in infancy and the daughter married Barn ard Williot, but remained childless. The daughter died and Charles
87 interim, blacks died. Court cases became so entangled between British and Americans that many extended into the 1820s. 65 Black Activity in British Charleston The chaos of war, especially in the coastal regions of the Deep South, not only led to confusion over property rights, but also continually disturbed individual lives and interrupte d black communities and kinship networks. However, the majority of blacks in the south attempted to live as normally as possible under the duress and chaos of war. Blacks occupied the same revolutionary world as whites, acting and reacting to battles, deci ding to hide, migrate or volunteer to fight. Many blacks fled from the countryside to the city seeking safety, just as whites did. Savannah, Charleston, and St. Augustine became hubs for the creation of new black communities that endeavored to survive liv ing, loving and burying the dead. While occupying Charleston the British walked a fine line between appeasing slave owning Loyalists and co opting enslaved blacks for state sponsored labor, including fortifications, street cleaning, and agricultural work. The Charleston Board of Police worked to return slaves owned by Loyalists. Blacks were also paid to work for the city until the owner requested the return of their slave. At the 65 By the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the American loss of slaves had enough importance to be incorporated int Through the remainder of the eighteenth centur y and the first decades of the nineteenth century, the U.S. and Britain negotiated over fair compensation for property the Americans claimed was stolen but the British claimed belonged to them. Thomas Jefferson and, later, John Jay sought compromises but f ailed. The British maintained that slaves who crossed their lines, whether by choice or accident, were British property. The American government disagreed, arguing that the act of running to the British, whether in New York or St. Augustine, failed to chan ge enslaved status and American ownership. This debate simmered across the Atlantic and additional negotiations in 1826 led to an agreement by Great Britain to pay for the lost slaves, thus ending a long standing dispute over the return and compensation fo r refugee slaves. For an early assessment of post Revolutionary relations between the United States and England regarding the return of slaves, see Arnett G. Lindsay, "Diplomatic Relations between the United States and Great Britain bearing on the Return o f Negro Slaves, 1788 1828," Journal of Negro History 4 (October 1920): 391 419.
88 same time, the Board provided a court system, which heard cases brought by bla cks, by instituting a few protections the British tried to ingratiate itself with the black population. Unable to work on destroyed plantations or moved forcibly to Charleston; slaves became a large mobile workforce for the shipping industry and later the Board of Police itself. The docks became a major source of employment for slaves. Free and enslaved blacks began to compete with whites for already scarce jobs on the docks. The Board of Police accepted many worker disputes, even one from two free black m en. On July 11, 1780, two free black South Carolinians, James and Thomas Hayman, petitioned the newly created Board of Police. According to their deposition, the Haymans were fisherman who supplied Charleston with seafood, a very common occupation for the free blacks The Haymans appeared before the court to complain about a violent 66 Pagett, seemingly upset about the little available work due in part to the large number of free black pilots willing to hire out their labor, physically and verbally abused the two on his wharf again. 67 The Board requested the appearance of Pagett to explain and poss ibly defend his violent actions. While some blacks, such as the Haymans, legitimized the Board by appealing to it for a solution to personal disputes, the Board expanded its powers in black communities and lives, ruling on community housing, and hiring bla cks as cleaners, grave diggers, and road workers, the same jobs blacks held in 66 Miscellaneous Records, 11 July 1780, SCDAH; Miscellaneous Proceedings of the Board of Police, 1780 1782, CO 5/520. 67 Ibid.
89 the British army. The Board essentially became a precursor to the way in which the British Empire would come to use and depend upon non plantation black labor. 68 While the Hayman s worked on the docks, blacks found varied occupations. The 69 The baker, Mr. Bennie, requested the Board to fix the price of bread. The revolution had interrupted his normal stores and incre ased the price of flour and firewood. As he had to pay his free black workers, or maybe even runaway workers, he needed to stabilize the price of bread in order to stay in business. Itinerant blacks came to the city looking for jobs and housing. Charlesto n served as a temporary place for communities. Many free and itinerant blacks made their way to the city and squatted in vacant houses. Whites began to look at black housing as being a disruption to polite white society. The war disrupted traditional white power by funneling men into the army and disrupting plantation life. The visual reminder that slaves could and would run away scared many whites. The Commissioners of the 70 71 Even though the Board recommended tearing down the house, Charleston still continued to be a riotous place. Late in April 1782, the Board revoked liquor licenses on the wharf 68 Ibid. 69 Miscellaneous Records, 7 September 1 781, SCDAH; Miscellaneous Proceedings of the Board of Police, 1780 1782, CO 5/552. 70 27 March 1782, Miscellaneous Records, SCDAH; Miscellaneous Proceedings of the Board of Police, 1780 1782, CO 5/552. 71 Ibid.
90 72 The Board removed bawdy houses as well as alcohol from the black district in an attempt to control black communities. T he black cemetery resided outside the Charleston city limits. This sacred space interred the dead for decades before the American Revolution. However, military 73 As a result, blacks began to dig graves inside th e city limits, under any easily movable ground. These bodies hastily buried within the city limits, rapidly decomposed in the summer heat and thunderstorms. The obnoxious to 74 75 Over the next two years, the government began to rely upon black labor not just for cleaning, clearing and repa iring, but also for military purposes. In these and other ways, blacks were increasingly important in the day to day activities of the economy as well as the government. In short, the British government came to depend on the cheap labor blacks provided. Du ring the occupation, the British Government inserted itself as father figure to the black community simultaneously controlling and protecting blacks. However, this attitude towards blacks did not ingratiate the new governments to Rebel Americans who could only watch as the British confiscated and sold their property to and used the profits to bolster the new regime. 72 Ibid. 73 Miscellaneous Records, 18 July 1780, SCDAH; Miscellaneous Proceedings of the Board of Police, 1780 1782, CO 5/552. 74 Ibid. 75 Ibid.
91 Anger over the loss of slaves during this period only grew. The British surrender in 1783 unleashed a series of official and impromptu evacuat ions mobilizing the population and exposing the vulnerable state of blacks. In 1782, the British admitted defeat and planned to evacuate the south. Previously restrained by the British government, the announcement opened the floodgates unleashing two years of anger and resentment. Blacks fled in all directions, doggedly pursued by Rebel and Loyalist southern port towns that remained in British hands St. Augustine, Savan nah and Charleston were swamped with black refugees. One year later, approximately 17,000 refugees both black and white fled to St. Augustine, the only remaining British city in the south. 76 76 The Journal of Southern History 55, no. 4 (November 1 989): 580 583.
92 Table 3 1. List of Slaves requested by the Board of Po lice, 1780. Owner Number of Slaves requested T 20 Thomas Bea 10 15 John Mathews 10 15 Philip Smith 10 Wm Clay Smipes 10 Joseph Glover 10 77 77 In the Council Chambers, Friday the 8 th day of September 1780
93 CHAPTER 4 EVACUATION AND EXODU S IN THE SOUTHERN ST ATES Preparing to evacuate in the waning days of the American Revolution, British soldiers and civilians crowded into the last British held Atlantic seaboard towns of Charleston, Savannah and St. Augustine. Thousands of free and enslaved Africans were forc ed along the journey. The British freed some during the war, some were still held in slavery by Loyalists, and many were of ambiguous legal status. Few of their identities are known. This chapter seeks to cast some light on these lives by tracing enslaved refugees through the chaos of evacuation, in particular highlighting the lives of blacks who left South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, and into the Caribbean. The single largest displacement of people in the western hemisphere occurred after the British surrendered on October 17, 1781, following the famous battle at Yorktown, which effectively ended the American Revolution. Sir Guy Carleton, the acting head of the British army, ordered the British evacuation of Georgia, followed by South Carolina and fina lly, a year later, the Floridas. Confusion set in as tired and weary evacuees moved north from Georgia seeking safety, only to be evacuated immediately south to Florida. Hundreds of families moved multiple times before finding themselves at this final dest ination, looking out onto the Atlantic Ocean and an uncertain future. Revolutionary evacuations brought into focus one question that circulated throughout the war: what to do with free (and those who believed they were free) blacks? Lord Dunmore brought t his question to the forefront of the American Revolution. Any slaves who worked for the British were freed under the Proclamation, leaving subsequent colonial governments in the south to deal with the ramifications of his offer.
94 The lack of a uniform Briti sh policy on how to provide freedom to the runaway black population caused legal turmoil in southern cities. Officials were inundated with the myriad of legal issues regarding black property. Each evacuating port city attempted to cope with the growing dia spora of both white and black refugees in different ways. Local royal governments passed regulations and proclamations, dealing with the evacuation of the black population, coordinated the movement of people into coastal regions or islands just off the coa st, and finally organized the black and white exodus to different locales still under British control. Savannah evacuated too quickly to deal with the black freedom problem thoroughly. Leaders in Charleston, however, offered an interesting option for black s living under British rule: the creation of a Black Negro Corps, which freedom. St. Augustine never created a plan to deal with blacks; instead, the government struggled with the population increase, the incoming Spanish government (who wooed the black population into desertion) and the final evacuation. Savannah Evacuation On July 4, 1782, the royal Georgia legislature announced the evacuation, the first of countless migrati ons that displaced white Loyalists and their slaves for almost 4 protection of the British ar my. The majority of British citizens and slaves fled northward to Charleston, while a few hundred moved west into the backcountry, south to St. Augustine, and east into the Caribbean. Upending the last few years of relative stability, people scattered to f ind safety. Most blacks, tied to white masters, did not have a choice
95 of where their journey would end, instead the majority found themselves in the first stage of a multistep journey. One family from Georgia, the Johnston family faced a difficult future without the help of Mr. Johnson, stationed at the St. Augustine fort. Elizabeth Johnston would have had to sell any personal property, animals, or slaves the family owned in order to move the entire family to a safer area. While the British government hope will not take advantage of the Necessities of the People but continue to sell their Goods at such Prices as they have done to the British; making a reasonable allowance for s, dropped throughout the southern colonies. 1 This precipitous drop in market values forced many British subjects to try to sell their property abroad. So many British attempted to exploit stolen property abroad that the Georgia Council met in the bustlin g town of Ebenezer on July 3, 1782, to discuss several questions regarding the exportation of black slaves. How could the government stop British citizens from taking American owned blacks? What could the government do about the large number of blacks who flocked to the British lines and who then fell under pay soldiers without an available cash supply? In Savannah, Charleston, and St. Augustine, each ruling body attempted to deal with the specific local circumstances that faced the evacuating population. As the Georgia evacuation continued, most remaining British subjects moved their worldly belongings to Tybee Island, an island just off the coast of Savannah, to 1 Candler, The Revolutionary Records of Georgia 1769 1782 113.
96 await tra nsport to safer harbors. Tybee Island became the makeshift embarkation point for the civilian Loyalist evacuation. In response, the Georgia Council acted to restrict quick sales of slaves on Tybee Island as refugees flooded docks and boarded ships. The Cou ncil also recommended that the British Commandant try to prevent blacks from Property belonging to an American Subject of this or any of the United States will be Permitted to b belonging to the Citizens of this State being carried off by any Person or Persons under his Co 2 However, while attempting to block the unlawful sale of slaves, as well as the stealing or flight of legal slaves, the members of the Council also feared that their controversy and disobedience. 3 In order to keep the peace, the Georgia Governor granted property owners the ability to make claims against those believed to have stolen property. 4 The Commissioners for the Sales of Forfeited Estates purchased oes, now within the Enemies lines and in Possession of Persons Attained of high Treason, and others, which Negroes so Purchased shall afterwards be disposed 2 Candler, The Revolutionary Records of Georgia 1769 1782 127 130. Sir James Wallace was a Loyalist and a Capta in in the Royal Navy. Before he could evacuate to Tybee Island, he lost seven slaves. Straggling rebel forces marched through his Ogeechee plantation, just outside of Savannah, before he could evacuate to Tybee Island. These rebel forces plundered his plan tation. Losing seven valuable slaves during the pillage, Wallace made sure to protect the other 30, who were shipped through Tybee Island to Jamaica. Wallace insured his remaining 30 slaves in their journey from Savannah through St. Augustine and finally t o his new plantation in Jamaica. But many slaves were simply sold outright in Tybee Island to pay for passage to other British territories. 3 Ibid. 127. 4 Ibid.
97 5 The Governor granted indi viduals permission to purchase slaves, provided however, that if those 6 The Royal Georgia government also dealt with the resale pro blem of stolen slaves and banned the purchase of illegally obtained American slaves. However, the chaos of the evacuation provided the perfect cover for illicit sales. When these illegal sales continued, the British council simply banned any and all legal sale of American or British slaves at Tybee Island. Despite such efforts to control transactions involving slaves, this illegal slave trade became so widespread that Americans flocked to Tybee Island, hoping to profit from the evacuating refugees. In orde r to pay for the passage into the British Caribbean and beyond, many Loyalists sold their slaves. Dire circumstances forced Loyalists to except known and acknowledged fr iends to American Independence; and Free holders of this State, for the Purchasing Negroes from any Person or Persons at Tybee or elsewhere, who are on their departure from this State under the British commander 7 So many people flocked to Tyb ee Island that the combination of extreme heat, brackish water, and crowded living conditions caused an outbreak of dysentery that rampaged through the makeshift port. Loyalist Anthony Stokes almost died awaiting 5 Ibid., 112 114. 6 Ibid. 7 Ibid., 130.
98 transport. Sick for two weeks, Stokes final ly made it aboard a transport to New York then on to England. 8 Stokes observed how disease ran rampant on the island, but was fortunate to escape. Many blacks were not so fortunate and succumbed to the sickness. Those who managed to survive evacuated into the Caribbean, like Hagar. Charleston Evacuation In the last months of the revolution, the Johnston family, along with their slaves, evacuated from Tybee Island to Charleston. The Johnstons arrived in Charleston to chaos. Unready for the thousands of refug ees, the royal Charlestonian government to handle such an increase in population. As a result, Charleston held lotteries to generate money for the growing displaced pop ulation. Notices appeared in the Charleston Gazette throughout 1782 advertising that lottery profits would help alleviate the Loyalist plight. To make matters worse, British citizens were banned from trading with Americans, which increased the demand for b lack market goods. The royal Charlestonian government had little time to deal with the smugglers, a few short weeks after the Savannah evacuation; Sir Guy Carleton announce d the evacuation of Charleston. Once announced, Charleston descended even further in to chaos. People began to round up blacks as a way to make money. Samuel Bonneau of Charleston went before the Board of Police to complain that a relative, Edward Bonneau stole 16 slaves. to his own use and advantage as this defonent is informed and believes the following Negroe slave s to wit Elsea 8 Anthony Stokes, A Narrative of the Official Conduct of Anthony Stokes, of the Inner Temple London ... His Majesty's Chief Justice, and one of his Council of Georgia (London: n.p., 1784), 96.
99 Linus, Jemmy, Sambo, Sambo Jerry, Long Sambo, Cepis Ben, Sawyer, Remus, Nelley, Doll, Bi had not been sold within the state, Samuel Bonneau was required to list the slaves name s and their appearance. Table 4 1 shows the detail with which Bonneau recorded his slaves. According to the appraisers, Thomas Harwon, Thomas Ashley, and John Ashley Bo ard, the slaves were worth £ 1670. attempting to secret away black property into the British Caribbean. Slave prices in the Caribbean remained steady throughout the war, while American prices dropped dramatically after the evacuation announcement. Loyalists faced with the loss of their property, including land, personal items and even runaway slaves, tried to recoup their financial losses by selling both owned and stolen s laves in the Caribbean. Other Loyalists attempted to sneak out of Charleston to avoid their debtors. In both situations, blacks were used as commodities on which Loyalists constructed their financial futures. Loyalists, looking to capitalize on the govern mental transition, used this opportunity to slip out of the city with goods, furniture and slaves some of which were not their own. One such Loyalist, Samuel Prioleau attempted to leave Charleston with 9 On May 3, 1782, he was detained by the Board of Police for not paying a debt to Mr. Robert Williams, a Charlestonian lawyer. The Board of Police detained Prioleau, stating that he was his debt. 9 Mr. Robert Williams To Samuel Prioleau, 3 May 1782 ( South Carolina: Commissioners of Forfeited Estates Account Bo ok 1782).
100 10 Prioleau still claimed the slaves taken by the American Sheriff in his claim to the British Board of Trade. Negro Woman named Pall a very healthy, handy, House wench and seamstress. .one ditto also a very handy healthy House wench with her two children; one a girl about 11 was four at the time of the sale. The historical record leav es no discernible clues as to how the division occurred or where these lives headed. 12 Moving slaves, both stolen and legally owned, into the Caribbean, Loyalists sold blacks to the vast Caribbean sugar industry hungry for labor. Captain Thomas Newland was one such slave peddler who appeared before the Board of Police. He concealed and conveyed six blacks aboard his ship, Polly, during a trip to Jamaica. These raids became so prevalent that the Board of Police passed legislation fining ships £50 if they did not comply with the two acts passed by the General Assembly regarding the various Persons, Inhabitants of this Province having been carried off the same by 10 Ibid. 11 Ibid. 12 Prioleau after the evacuation. John Richardson later laid a claim to her, stating that he was her rightful owner. However the Richard Prioleau listed his forfeited black property alongside £210 of household furniture and £609 in house rental fees for his part ownership of a house on the corner of Bay Street an d Broad Street.
101 Masters of Tradin 13 The Board of Police began to require that any owner who wanted to remove their property, including slaves, from the providence would have to request permission to move. Migration to St. Augustine During her sojourn in Charleston, E lizabeth Johnston welcomed her third child whom she named after her mother, Catherine. However, any joy she may have felt was 14 The city of St. Augustine was more accessible to evacuating Loyalists like Elizabeth Johnston. During the revolutionary years, the city had become a prosperous asylum for those seeking shelter from the violence of war. Troops crisscrossed the southern co untryside searching for enemy engagements and wreaked havoc upon plantations in their path, forcing tens of thousands from their homes. Between 1782 and 1783, 12,000 new comers traveled the well worn trails leading south through the swampy Georgia low coun try into St. Augustine, only to find a small, overcrowded town cramped on a dry strip of land wedged between the swamps and the river. In late July 1782, Carleton announced the evacuation of Charleston and designated St. Augustine as the evacuation destina tion. Like most refugees, the Johnston family attempted to set up a life in the burgeoning town of St. Augustine. 13 Miscellaneous Records, 29 August 1780 SCDAH; Miscellaneous Proceedings of the Board of Police, 1780 1782, CO 5/520. 14 Johnston, Recollections of a Georgia Loyalist 222.
102 re the Johnston family. 15 St. Augustine became a safe haven for blacks in the years leading to 1783. liberated slaves, from both rebel and British owners, streamed into the city searching for a safety. Over half of t he 12,000 newcomers were black, adding to the already large to total around 17,000 blacks inside the city limits. A small black Anabaptist gathering sprung up next to the Spanish Cathedral where a black minister held sermons. Blacks searching for moral gui dance, or simply a friendly face, would convene in the open without worry of religious or racial persecution. However, this small peaceful town erupted into cha os when Charleston evacuated. A few diaries from the era Johann and Josiah Smith rev eal interesting details about black lives. While St. Augustine might offer a safe harbor, getting there was fraught with danger. Not all ships made the journey successfully as a treacherous sandbar protected 16 Most ships needed a guide to help steer avaricious ship master refused to promise .was capsized by the seas and the worthy 15 Johan David Schopf Travels in the Confederation (Philadelphia: W. J. Campbell, 1783?), 228. 16 Ibid. 229 230.
103 17 These fou r blacks had built their own lives in St. Augustine during the war years. Ironically, the ship they died trying to dock was carrying loyalists whose arrival would be detrimental for many other blacks with a tenuous hold on freedom. Florida was only a te mporary haven for Loyalists. One year after the evacuation of Charleston, Sir Guy Carleton announced the evacuation of Florida. The Treaty of Paris traded Florida for control over Gibraltar. News of Florida transferring from British to Spanish rule sparked 18 For nearly three years, the colony remained in limbo between two authorities: the British Governor Patrick Tonyn and the new Spanish Governor Vicente Manuel de Zespedes. This hectic and chaotic transition Panic gripped the city. Over the next few months, whites began to round up free, enslaved and lost blacks seeking safety in St. Augustine. Slaves were one of the most mobile forms of wealth, and th us became a profitable commodity for those willing to lie, cheat and steal in order to make a quick buck. 19 Tens of thousands of these Loyalists migrated from Savannah to Charleston, then St. Augustine and into the British Caribbean with their newly acquire d slaves. Over 7,500 refugees reached East Florida over the next year, inflating the total population to more than 17,000, including the previously mentioned 12,000. commented on the complete lack of infrastructure and the general societal breakdown 17 Ibid. 228. 18 Ibid. 19 Frey, Water From the Rock, 185.
104 town and the surrounding country received a considerable number of new inhabitants in the emigrant ro the port of 20 Josiah Smith, an evangelical Christian who partook in the Great Awakening, was part of a group of American Rebels taken prisoner, thrown in a prison ship and shipped to St. Augustine along with their black servants. A total of 29 rebel prisoners and their enslaved prope rty moved to St. Augustine for a period of 2 years. An adamant rebel, Smith refused to pledge loyalty to the British and under the Articles of Capitulation, Smith fell under the category Prisoners of War. Lord Cornwallis wrote a letter to the prisoners exp lain how they were changed with fomenting the recent hostilities and would therefore be placed in parole in St. Augustine. Interestingly, the British allowed the Americans to take along their slaves. 21 Americans enjoyed a level of freedom as prisoners of w ar in St. Augustine. While, they could not move past the physical boundaries, they could move around the s could move with relative freedom around St. Augustine, mixing with the population and experiencing the 20 Travels in the Confederation, 231. 21 See Table 4 1
105 recent boom of population. The only hindrance to their movement was the requirement f a Heart, the which they have since decorated in such a handsome manner, as to render it a real g to the [British] American slaves also had free reign to catch food at the harbor. Smith discusses the Barr for th Catching of Fish and Oysters for our use. permission, Smith had to go through Mr. Brown the Commissary. Mr. Brown apparently and Civilitys experienced in his family, have far exceeded any other Person in this Blacks forced to leave homes and move to St. Augustine attempted to create community in Florida. Dealing the best they could with the circumstances, blacks made friends and connected to others stuck in the same predicament However, as with all communities, not all contact was congenial. Smith records in his diary that on Thursday Anthony Toomers and had been sick for almost a week. Smith go es on to speculate that Rumors abounded that Scipip had grown close to a married female slave. Once this intimacy was discovered, Scipip fell ill. The man in question w as interred and interrogated.
106 Slavery placed blacks in a tenuous situation. Enslaved peoples were not only susceptible to conditions such as disease, overcrowded conditions, and scarcity of food and clothing, but also to intangible predators such as whit e greed, false promises, and the newly delegated Spanish government. Loyalists used their slaves as currency, paying for accommodations and food as the evacuation lasted years longer than expected. Many evacuees thought their sojourn into East Florida was merely a stop on the way to other destinations in the British Empire, but the evacuation stretched on, continuing two years after the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783. Exacerbating the situation was the large quantity of presumably free blacks in St. Aug ustine who were or at will by any British field officer who felt that a slave had performed exemplary service in battle. Loyalist and rebel citizens preyed upon blacks who be lieved themselves free, kidnapping and selling black men, women, and children and breaking up already tenuous kinship networks. Others were tricked into moving and were enslaved once they reached their destination. This practice was not just limited to ban dits and ex soldiers; the makeshift British and Spanish governments captured and sold enslaved people toward the end of the evacuation. 22 Finally, thousands of slaves were simply transported to another plantation society in the Caribbean. 22 Helen Hornbeck Tanner, 1790 (Jacksonville: University of North Florida Press, 1989).
107 The Florida Cla ims Commission: A Window into Black Experiences After the American Revolution the British permitted Loyalists who suffered property loss to petition the government for reparations. British citizens real and personal, had existed previous t o the War in a remote part of the world a very arduous and delicate undertaking the British set up a Claims Commission to deal with each individual claim 23 Each claimant and witness were exa Witnesses were more easily cross examined, and encouraged to speak the truth, and to give full answers to the questi 24 Then the Commission organized the claims into a rubric, 1 indicating the most Loyal and 10 being the least. The 11 th category was reserved for those Loyalists who were granted relief but unable to procure it. 1st, Loyalists who had render ed Services to Great Britain 2nd, Loyalists who had borne arms in the service of Great Britain 3rd, Z ealous and U niform Loyalists 4th, British subje cts resident in Great Britain 5th, Who took the oath to the Americans, but afterwards joined the British 6th, Who bore arms for the Americans, but afterwards joined the British 7th, Ditto, lo sses under the Prohibitory Act 8th, Loyal British Proprietors 9th, Subjects or settled Inh abitants of the United States 10th, Cla ims disallowed and withdrawn 11th, Loyal British Subjects who appear to have relief by the Treaty of Peace, but state the impossibility of procuring it The 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 whose liquidated Losses did not amount to more than ten thousand pounds each, the full amount of their Losses; and if they should exceed the sum of ten thousand pounds, t 23 Eardley Wilmot, J. (1815). Historical view of the Commission for enquiring into the losses, services, and claims of the American loyalists, at the close of the war between Great Britain and her colonies, in 1783: with an acco unt of the compensation granted to them by Parliament in 1785 and 1788 London: Printed by J. Nichols, Son, and Bentley; and sold by them [etc.], 22. 24 Ibid, 66.
108 and capped requests to 35,000. 72 By 1784, there were 2,063 claims amounting to L7,046,278 for real and persona l property and L 2,234,125 for debts. 25 The Commission also drew a boundary around the colonies agreeing to pay United States. However, the person must prove their residence was in one of the colonies lost in the war. 113 Even before Loyalists could petition the Commission for losses, the Florida required migratin g British citizens to register themselves and their slaves. The British required all Loyalists intending to ship their slaves into the Caribbean with the Florida Claims Commission and sent back to London. However, most of these records have not survived. The East Florida Claims Commission documents were transferred to the Rolls House in 1847. For 50 years, the papers suffered from sewer water damage, while lying in the T 26 Few readable documents survive. 1789, including some form the Bahamas, Jamaica, and elsewhere. A total of £647,405/6/9 was claimed, and £170,351/11/0 wa 27 Many of these claims portray an interesting picture of St. Augustine during the revolutionary years, showing how blacks were stolen, sold, migrated, tricked and some ran away in the face of impeding enslavement or re enslavement. 25 Ibid, 111. 26 Charles McLean Andrews, Guide to the Materials for American History to 1783 (Wa shington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1912), 265. 27 Papers of the East Florida Claims Commission, TPNA 77.
109 Americans a nd Loyalists alike roamed St. Augustine and the surrounding territory preying upon enslaved men and women awaiting passage into the British Empire. The East Florida Claims list John Nicol and John Jamison as both losing blacks in the chaos. John Nicol requ ested reparations for two blacks, Tom and Jacob, who were carried off by Americans in East Florida. Similarly, John Jamison, Esq., claimed that the rebels stole three or chaos created an ideal situation for criminal behavior. 28 advantage of the confusions and disorder which the time and circumstances had caused among the inhabitants, (conditions, however, chargeable to the authorities), and were robbing on the roads and plundering 29 These brigands drove vulne rable whites and blacks to the city seeking safety and as a result increased panic within the city walls. Tom and Jacob were just a few individuals who were forcibly stolen; others were forced back to the American plantations they fled from, others were se nt to unfamiliar American plantations, and many to awaiting ships for departure. Slaves Sold, Migrated, Transferred As more and more people streamed into St. Augustine, the town became volatile for free and escaped blacks who suddenly became more in dange r of losing their newly acquired freedom. Like most refugees, the Johnston family attempted to set up a life for themselves in St. Augustine, until word reached the town that the crown had given 28 Travels in the Confederation 241. 29 Ibid.
110 Florida to Spain. Like so many slave owners, William Johnston could not afford the cost white families. Undergoing yet another transformati on from labor, to currency, and back again to labor, slaves dispersed from St. Augustine into the countryside to work for new American plantations. Loyalists not only sold slaves to rebel plantation owners, but also slave traders from the Caribbean and eve n a few hundred to the Spanish Empire. In an effort to recoup lost income, Loyalists tried many options to prevent bankruptcy. Many of these actions had severe consequences for the blacks involved. Many Loyalists entrusted their property to an intermedia ry. Ann Wobley brought her case in front of the American Loyalist Claims Commission. She and her late husband, Edward Wobly, had resided in St. Augustine since 1768 and lived there for fourteen years. Edward was a merchant, and after he died in 1782, Ann w as unable to 30 Charleston upon hearing news of the cession of East Florida to the Spanish Empire. Ann never heard what happened to her two slaves or to the intermediary Master Dott. She petit 30 Petition of Ann Wobly, 19 Sept 1786, AO American Loyalists Claims Series I, Ea st Florida.
111 31 Even though her petition claimed two Neg desperately needed these funds. As for her own human property, they were likely sold to new American owners. Americans sold off the plantation and lands of Loyalist Colonel Elias Ball from South Carolina. Banished from South Carolina, Ball moved to East Florida and bought year and a half. 32 them to St. Augustine and left the rest upon some lands on the west side about 25 or 30 miles f 33 however their maintenance cost more than their production. 34 His whole objective, he explained, was they could be sold. While his goals were lofty, Ball failed, and 30 of his slaves died in April 1784. In order to recoup his losses, he sold 140 blacks to his cousin who had remai ned in South Carolina. Whites attempted to protect their futures by handling blacks as future savings. Witnessing the chaos surrounding them, blacks began to protest with their fee and run away. 31 Ibid. 32 Petition of Elias Ball, 13 Oct 1786, AO American Loyalists Claims, Series I, East Florida; BNA 12/3/19. 33 Ibid. 34 Ibid.
112 Runaway Slaves Amidst the chaotic departure from St. Augusti ne, Robert Robertson petitioned the 35 The claim states that in 1783 Jack ran away from S t. Augustine to Charleston either in pursuit of his family or in an attempt to gain his freedom. Looking out onto the Atlantic Ocean, many blacks must have felt similarly when faced with an overseas voyage taking those thousands of miles away, thus inspiri ng thousands of enslaved blacks to run either to safety, back home or to supposed safe havens such as St. Augustine. Loyalists attempting to establish new lives found came to rely upon black labor in the chaotic town of St. Augustine conditions in which ma ny slaves attempted to run away. As many self freed blacks moved into St. Augustine found, work was difficult to find. One way for blacks to work was to hire oneself as a laborer. Robert Robinson, a native Liverpudlian, had his slave Phillis runaway. Robin son hired laboring blacks to build his home in St. Augustine. Robinson moved to South Carolina in 1773. He settled in Charleston as a butcher until 1788 when the rebel government forced him to leave. Robinson refused to swear allegiance to the rebellious g overnment. On May 23, 1778, 36 Robinson owned other slaves, Phillis and her husband whom he had bought at a public sale in 1780. He sold the man shortly 35 Ibid. 36 Petition of Robert Robinson, 27 Oct 1786, AO American Loyalists Claims Series I, East Florida; BNA 12/3/ 26.
113 husband must have been too far out of reach or even lost, because shortly thereafter The unnamed husband must have endured hard labor working for Robinson during his time as a slave. Robinson explains his house had a flat roof upon it, which he repaired and made into a pitch roof. That there was one room down which h e built up and put a new Chamber over it. That the Gable End was likewise entirely down and he rebuilt it Tat [sic] he put up a Chimney, two now [sic] windows one of which cost 5 the other not quite half so much; a Back Door which cost upwards of one Guine a; a new stable built of wood and covered with Tiles an oven and a slaughter House and sunk a well. That he fenced in the Lot with Post, Nails, and Clap boards, it might take 100 posts with two or three nails between the posts and clapboards nailed upright that be brought the posts and rails. That the repairs and buildings which were done soon after the purchase might take up about a month exclusive of the force. 37 The husband performed most of this hard labor, occasionally getting help from 38 According to his statement, black carpenters earned from man (Jac 39 Jack ran away are left to wonder if Jack did not entertain more complex reasoning to run away from suc 37 Ibid. 38 Ibid. 39 Ibid.
114 Although on the record as fleeing due to a fear of climate, Jack may have fled to be with his family. 40 Ma jor Nicholas Welsh was one Loyalist who traveled to the Bahamas after the of 1782. Thinking that he would settle in Florida, as many others thought, he built a home on t 41 Welsh claims that 42 The three hired 43 These slaves may have formed a core family unit or could have been related in some way, but they were more than likely split among sellers eager to profit from Loy alist desperation. Another Loyalist, James sold his property in 1783. He owned 10 slaves, four of which were left in the county at his plantation and six, named Barrick, Will, Yella Adam, Cato, Moses, and Titus ran away from Florida back to Georgia, only to be captured and re sold into slavery. Thousands of enslaved blacks would attempt to run away either to return home or to land in supposed safe havens such as St. Augustine. Passage between colonies was fraught with danger. Ships traveling the eastern se aboard between St. Augustine and New York were vulnerable to attack, leaving any 40 Ibid. 41 Petition of Nicholas Welch, 13 Oct 1786, AO American Loyalists Claims, Series I, East Florida; BNA 12/3/19. 42 Ibid. 43 Ibid.
115 blacks on board susceptible to re enslavement or, in rare circumstances, leading to their freedom. Mary Webb lost her husband John at the end of the Revolution. Following this women ahead. An American privateer captured the British ship and took it to Boston, a city that did not uphold slavery. In one of the rare happy cases, Sarah and Aperina accidently sailed to Boston and, essentially, their freedom. Major William Cunning ham was a British Loyalist who witnessed the frantic slave round up and testified to its voracity in front of the Board of Trade. 44 Cunningham opportunities of removing these Ne groes from East Florida between February 1784 and 45 Hoping to one day return and collect his slaves, Cunningham set off to the Bahamas to find suitable land. However, he was forced to sell his enslaved property once the return trip became untenable. 22 years old, Linty an 11 year old girl, and an unnamed Negroe woman. 46 However, when asked to prove his losses, Cunningham provi ded only a bill of sale from Cuthbert 44 He testified well after the revolution on October 7, 1786. 45 Petition of William Cunningham, 7 October 1786, AO American Loyalists Claims, Series I, East Florida,; BNA 12/3. 46 Ibid.
116 th 1783 of a negroe woman, who was about 50 years old, a 47 Victims of Trickery Many blacks found St. Augustine less of a haven than expe cted. One crook, Jesse Gray, made quite a career of tricking free and enslaved blacks into working for false documents of freedom. One of his victims, Mary Postell, resided in Charleston at the end of the war and evacuated with the British to East Florida after she received her certificate of freedom. She lost her documentation in the turmoil of the evacuation. With no proof of her newly acquired free status, she had little choice but to travel with her husband and children and to follow the British evacuat ion south to St. Augustine. Once they arrived in St. Augustine, Mary was able to find paid work as a housemaid to the same Jesse Grey, who would later trick her out of her freedom. Jesse Grey attempted to take advantage of the overburdened court system an d claim the Postell family as his slaves. He forcibly moved her and her family from St. Augustine to Nova Scotia where he sold Postell to his brother Samuel. Postell Scoti Birchtown who testified that she worked for the British building fortifications. The British promised to reward slaves who worked for them, but many slaves never received this c returned Mary to his possession. The magistrates had Loyalist ties; many of them were slaveholders unsympathetic to the plight of freed blacks who risked re enslavement at 47 Ibid.
117 every turn. Probably as a deliberate punishment for running away, Gray sold Mary to William Maugham for a hundred bushels of potatoes; she was enslaved once again. While Mary Postell ended up in Canada, not in the Caribbean, her account gives historians a rare glimpse into the complicated and uncertain situation blacks faced during and after the revolution. Regardless of the low status and relative inability of slaves to control their own freedom, blacks were still able to exert some influence over their f utures by navigating official channels such as the court system. In the short time Mary Postell lived in St. Augustine, she would have witnessed a profound change in the lation of Africans residing in St. Augustine. The chaos, however, did not just extend to blacks; white citizens were also caught up in the chaos experienced transitioning from British to Spanish rule. William Cunningham was one British Loyalist who might have understood what it was like to be an enslaved man or woman, kidnapped and shipped to an unfamiliar land (in this case, Cuba). Before Cunningham became a victim of the revolution, he evacuated from Charleston in 1782. Traveling to East Florida, he rent ed land from Lady planted fifteen acres of corn. Cunningham returned to East Florida in May 1785. Shortly after, he had a dispute with the Spanish government and was take n prisoner and sent to Cuba. The interesting details of his experiences in Cuba are lost, however we do have a few letters. Wilbur Henry Siebert, a historian who first wrote on Cunningham, describes and other British subjects
118 charges. .[they] were destined to be sent to a place where it would be out of their 48 From Cuba, Cunningham m ade his way to Canada and back to London. Here, he submitted his claim before the Board. However, the requested that the Commission accept witnesses examined before the Gove rnor of the Bahamas. In the meantime, he would keep his claim open. Arrival of the Spanish and Confusion in the Black Community The Spanish governor, Vicente Manual Zespedes y Valasco, arrived in St. Augustine on June 27, 1784. Valasco issued a proclamati on on July 14, 1784 proclaiming the creation of a Spanish government. The proclamation gave British inhabitants 18 months to sell property and remove themselves from the colony. He owners who lacked title deeds to permission to hire themselves for private employment or to work for the public; failure to 49 The political upheaval was not limited to physical violence; it also interrupted systems of classification and oppression. During this transitory period, thousands of slaves simply had no legal documents proving their ownership and a s a result were able to live as free persons in St. Augustine. The difficulty in determining the actual status of many blacks led the royal Zespedes to issue a proclamation requiring slaves to show attempt to classify blacks 48 Wilbur Henry Siebert, Loyalists in East Florida, 1774 to 1785; The Most Important Documents Pertaining Thereto, Edited with an Accompanying Narrative (DeLan d: Florida State Historical Society, 1929), 174. 49 Mowat, East Florida as a British Province, 145.
119 indicates the varied and complex categories through which this diverse population was understood at the time. The proclamation stated that there are four different classes of blacks in the province: The first are blacks absolute ly free, the second are them who deserve their liberty by virtue of different proclamations ordered to be published to British Generals during the War; the third belong to British subjects known to be their owners; and the fourth are Blacks, who have no Ow ner, and are strolling about this Town and province this last class of Blacks whenever they will present themselves within [twenty days] shall by virtue of the proclamation be considered as free, but them as vagrants. 50 Free blacks had to register in 20 days in order to receive work permits. The British authorities who still presided in the city promptly protested that under British law, slave owners held such chattel without wri tten deed. Nevertheless, Zespedes continued to prosecute wandering blacks, taking many free and enslaved Loyalist blacks for the Spanish crown. 51 Many blacks did not possess proper documentation to verify manumissions and were therefore in violation of Gov Slave as well as freeman that was under the protection of the British Government at the arrival of His Excellency Govern of six blacks in St. Augustine would be adversely affected by this new law. 52 50 Vicente Manuel de Zespedes to Patrick Tonyn CO 5/561; 80. As inhumane as these categorizations may sound, Zespedes showed a very enlightened approach to blacks as human beings, who also classifications that derive[d] from and also celebrate[d] racially exclusive conceptions of national identity from which blacks were excluded as either non human or non 51 Gilroy, The Black Atlantic, 6. 52 Patrick Tonyn to Lord Sydney, 6 December 1784, CO 5/561; 47 48.
120 Exodus The evacuation of the British from St. Augustine, the last British held port in the American colonies, resulted in the dispersal of Loyalists and their slaves into the British Caribbean and beyond. Between 1782 and 1785, British citizens and their slaves created the largest diaspora of English speaking refugees, never before had such numbers of British subjects and th eir slaves been scattered more widely across the globe. As a result, the empire blackened significantly. African Loyalists could be found in Canada and even Australia in the years following the evacuation. ained in British hands St. Augustine, Savannah, and Charleston overflowed with black refugees that had arrived by various means; some arrived by their own volition having escaped their Rebel masters to join the British, while other enslaved blacks journeye d with their Loyalist masters or with the Loyalist raiders who stole them from British slave masters. Still others were simply swept up in the maelstrom. Many received freedom from the British upon their arrival in St. Augustine, but many more remained ens laved or lived in a kind of legal limbo. When the British evacuated these towns between 1782 and 1785, some slaves emigrated with them as freed people. However, most never gained their freedom and were destined for harsh new lives as plantation laborers in Barbados, Jamaica, and the Bahamas. Governor Tonyn shipped his own slaves to the British island of Dominica. Once there, he arranged for their sale and coordinated additional slave sales for Jacob Wilkerson and the Earl of Egmont with a Spanish merchant f rom Havana. The process took so long that fifteen of the seventy nine offered for sale including Sam, Primus, Peggy, Amey, Sampson, Israel, Frank, Billey, Jack, Pero, Celia, Kate, Nancy, and Linda died before they could be sold. One black man named Newport was sent to St
121 Kitts and sold for £60. 53 The only remaining records simply list their names, leaving historians to speculate on any number of personal details. In such a chaotic time, blacks were a constantly changing commodity: used as cash to pay for d ebts, as a means of moving wealth into the Caribbean, and as a labor source. Blacks transitioned from human, to commodity, and finally to a fighting force in the Caribbean. In an era without stable banks or currency, slave owners used enslaved populations as a means to invest in the future. Previously enslaved men and women struggled to control their own fate, create communities, worship freely, and even volunteer for service. Inevitably governmental, legal, and personal disputes broke out between parties i nterested in utilizing black labor. The next chapter follows those blacks who ultimately stayed with their masters and traces their negotiations throughout multiple migrations through the Mosquito Shore, Belize and finally to the Bahamas. 53 The Memorial of Patrick Tonyn, TPNA Papers of the East Florida Claims Commission.
122 Table 4 1. Samu el Bonneau List of Slaves Elseck A Capital Fellow abo 25 years of age a jobing carpenter Driver O ne hundred and fifty Pounds Lymus A Capital Fellow abo 30 Years of age a good Boatman Sawyer One Hundred and thirty Pounds Jimmey A capital Prime fellow a bo 30 years a good Boatman Sawyer One hundred and fifty Pounds Cooper Sambo Capital Fellow abo 25 years of age a good Cooper boatman One hundred and thirty pounds Ferry Sambo Young Prime abo 20 Years a Cooper boatman Sawyer One hundred and thirty Pounds Long Sambo About 25 years of age a good Sawyer Ninety pounds Scipio About 25 years of age a good field slave One hundred and thirty pounds Ben Abo 26 years of age. Jobing Carpenter a good Indigo Maker and field slave One hundred and thirty pounds J effry Twenty seven years of age a field slave Seventy Pounds (s)Lawyer About 25 years of age. A good waiting man One Hundred Pounds Venus An elderly wench a good cook and field slave Seventy Pounds Nelly About 30 years of age, a Compliat Washer Iro ner, Seamstress, and House maid One Hundred Pounds Doll A Young Field Slave Eighty pounds Binah A Young Field Slave Eighty pounds Darchus A Young Wench. Cook, washer, ironer, and house maid Ninety pounds Robin Darchus son abo 7 years old Mulatto Fort y pounds Total Amount sixteen hundred and sixty pounds sterling
123 Table 4 2 List of American Families and their Black Servants traveling from St. Augustine to Philadelphia Families and Single Persons Men Women Children Negro Men Negro Women Negro Chil dren James H. Thomson and his Family 1 1 1 Nathaniel Lebby 1 1 4 Sarah Wakefield 1 6 Martha Bourdeaux 1 6 2 James McBride 1 Charlotte Cross 1 Ann Davis 1 John Ernest Poyas and his Family 1 1 2 1 2 Edward McCrady 1 1 2 1 2 Joseph Ball 1 1 1 3 Stephen Shrewsberry 1 1 6 1 1 1 John Langford 1 1 1 2 Ralph Atmar 1 1 2 Francis Gross 1 1 3 2 Abraham Mayzett 1 Elizabeth Girraud 1 1 1 William Stone & Family 1 1 1 2 4 Thomas Smith 1 1 4 1 Arthur Staf ford 1 1 1 1 John Welch 1 1 6 1 Robert Way 1 1 James Wilkins 1 1 5 John Bonnistt 1 1 2 1 Ann Glaze 1 1 Thankfull Moore 1 3 William Wilkie 1 9 Total 18 24 60 9 16 7
124 Table 4 3 List of Black Slaves Registered in St. Augustine 1783 1785 Name Male Female Infant Children Girl Woman Boy Man Sylvia 1 Bina 1 Rose 1 Drummor Billy 1 Kate 1 Bilia Jonny 1 Martha 1 1 George 1 1 Lydia 1 P egg 1 Tibby Quash [Capardra] [Sink] Sarah 1 1 Quash 1 1 Plenty 1 1 Bristol 1 1 Ceasar 1 1 Frank 1 1 Morris 1 1 Dick 1 1 Bristol 1 1 Stephon 1 1 Harry 1 1 Jack 1 1 Davey 1 1 Sam 1 1 Shallow 1 1 Hopney 1 1 Sampson 1 1 Williby 1 1 children ( 3 Willby ) 3 Hagar 1 1 children ( 3 Hagar ) 3 Syrah 1 1
125 Table 4 3 continued. Nam e Male Female Infant Child Girl Women Boy Man child ( Syrah ) 1 Hannah 1 1 child ( Hannah ) 1 Mary 1 1 Child ( Mary ) 1 Nancy 1 Toner 1 Sally 1 Betty 1 Celia 1 Betty 1 Diner 1 Juno 1 Negroe Boy 1 1 Lester 1 1 Tom 1 1 Tom 1 1 Cloe 1 Belinda 1 Monday 1 Hannah 1 Princess 1 Beck 1 Sipe 1 1 Cate 1 1 Cooper 1 Betty 1 Venus 1 Quin 1 Edward 1 Bella 1 Ben 1 1 Billy 1 Rose 1 Jonny 1 Will 1 Monday 1 Archer 1
126 Table 4 3 continued. Name Male Female Infant Child Girl Women Boy Man J offry 1 1 James 1 Daniel 1 Sampson 1 Ceasar 1 Molly 1 Daniel 1 Nelly 1 Tobie 1 1 Flora 1 1 Bristol 1 1 Torro 1 1 Sam 1 Joe 1 Robbin 1 London 1 Dinah 1 Jack 1 1 Harry 1 1 Kings 1 Harry 1 Will 1 1 Abram 1 1 Julet 1 1 Children ( 3 Julet ) 3 Marannia 1 1 Jacob 1 1 Sarah 1 1 Bina 1 Jenny ( child of Bi na ) 1 Fanny 1 1 Carolina 1 1 Frank 1 1 Peter 1 1 Dan 1 1 Brick 1 1 Sue 1 1 Jenny 1 1
127 Table 4 3 continued. Name Male Female Infant Child Girl Women Boy Man Sary 1 1 Leister 1 1 Ned 1 1 Sam 1 Sarah 1 Nancy 1 1 Binah 1 1 2 Girls 2 2 Polly 1 Jany 1 1 Hannah ( child of Jany ) 1 1 Sam 1 1 Paul 1 John 1 Dick 1 1 Abraham 1 Mingo 1 Sarah 1 Rose 1 1 Will 1 1 Bob 1 James 1 Ned 1 Cooper 1 Jack, 1 Jack 1 Little Jack 1 Sam 1 Charles 1 Omer 1 Tom 1 Isaac 1 York 1 Suffolk 1 Sally 1 Mary 1 Pinder 1 Luncy 1
128 Table 4 3 continued. Name Male Female Infant Child Girl Women Boy Man Rose 1 Meriah 1 Mary 1 Ceilia 1 Harry 1 Patty 1 Scipis 1 Ned 1 Princess 1 George 1 Philis 1 Primus 1 Mary 1 Lizza 1 Bacchus 1 Biana 1 March 1 Boatswain 1 Jack 1 Jupiter 1 Ferry 1 Pete r 1 1 Philis 1 1 Covam 1 Sue 1 Jimmy 1 1 Sally 1 1 Pollydow (son of S ally ) 1 1 Sampson 1 1 Primus 1 Dick 1 Lymus 1 1 Malborogh 1 Charlotte 1 Mancha 1 B ella 1 1 Fortune 1 1 Jacob 1 TOTAL 106 72 18 5 18 7 39
129 CHAPTER 5 BLACK DIASPORIA FOLL O WING THE REVOLUTION In 1777, a Loyalist refugee from Savannah named Mary Port Macklin arrived in St. Augustine, Florida, in flight from the viole nce that engulfed the South. For the next increasingly crowded with displaced Loyalists like herself. 1 privateering part time in order to mak privateering raids, he stole the slave couple, Nancy and Robert. 2 Mary Port Macklin arrived home late one night after caring for a sick neighbour and woke Nancy and Robert. She ordered Nancy to make a cup of coffee, but when it arrived, she complained that it was too cold and too weak to drink, and refused it. Whether or not Nancy intentionally did her job poorly out of protest is, of course, impossible to know, story is tantalizingly thin. Before being stolen by Robert Macklin, were they escaping to freedom? Were they being sold to the Caribbean? In such seemingly mundane, every day episodes, black and white refugees tried to negotiate their newly entwined lives under the duress of displacement by war. This story is only one small episode in the daily lives of black and white refugees who would soon find themselves scattered across the British Empire. This chapter follows the haphazard j ourney of a few Loyalists and slaves from the American shore into the Mosquito Coast, through Belize and finally to the Bahamas. 1 Mary Port Macklin The Life of Mary Port Macklin (1823?). Miscellaneous memoirs, Smathers Library Special Collections, University of Florida. 2 The records indicate Nancy and Robert were a couple, as Macklin referred
130 John Macklin was one loyalist who turned to looting blacks from wayward ships in order to make a living. Mary Port Macklin and her husband John once prosperous and resourceful restaurant owners they had converted an old, unseaworthy vessel into a arrived in St. Augustine as paupers. John Macklin then took command of the privateer Poll ey to make a new living by plundering rebel slaves. On his first expedition, he intercepted a vessel bound for St Eustatius and profitably netted three young black men, Primes, Jems, and Pollichor, as prizes. Leaving these slaves in the capable hands of hi s wife, Macklin returned to sea in search of more valuable commodities. 3 On his second voyage, he stole two middle aged slaves, the couple Robert and Nancy. Again, he left them with his wife, then took two of the previously seized young men aboard the priv ateer for a third voyage, but this time he was unsuccessful. 4 All the while, Mary Macklin kept an informative diary. However, it still contains many silences about the lives of enslaved refugees in her care. Did Mary sell the young men at auction in St. Au gustine, and if so, for how much and to 5 These might have been the same men he had taken with him to capture more blacks on the high seas. He also claimed three slaves taken by Rebels in 1777 or 1778. These slaves might have been stolen, or perhaps abandoned when the Macklins and the other Loyalists were forced to leave St. 3 Macklin, Memoir 120 4 Ibid. 5 Ibid.
1 31 Augustine. 6 Savannah, Charleston, and St. Augustine would soon have to deal with the growing black population and what it meant for royal control. The fates of Nancy and Robert, the slaves of Mary Port Macklin in St. Augustine whom we met at the beginning of this chapter, illustrate the varying degrees of freedom blacks experienced in this era and locale. Caught in the tides of war, Nancy and Robert lived, loved, and lost in their attempt to create a life, both during and after the Revolutionary War. Mary Macklin fell ill with a debilitating disease during the las t few years of the war. Losing control of her body for three years, she became dependant on Nancy and her neighbours for care. Her husband, captured by the Rebels, never returned to St. Augustine and never saw his wife again. Destitute and ill, Mary was mo ved to the Bahamas, where she spent the last few years of her life. She was accompanied by Nancy, but Robert is not mentioned in later diary entries and seems not to have joined them. In many unwritten and lost stories, black tragedies mirror white ones. H istorians can only guess what happened to Robert: Perhaps he was sold, to pay assume, however, that the tragic separation Mary and her husband endured hurt Nancy and husb and Robert just as profoundly. Their intertwined story is merely one example plucked from the whirlwind of wartime uncertainty, flight, and evacuation that pushed ever farther to the south as the Revolution upturned thousands of lives, permanently separati ng black families, communities, and traditions. Elizabeth Lichtenstein Johnston, discussed in the second chapter, was just one of the thousands of Loyalists who made the journey from Savannah to Charleston and 6 Ibid. 112 125.
132 then to St. Augustine. Pregnant with her third child, Johnston moved her young family through a total of five migrations, two of which were transatlantic. The Johnston family journeyed with their black nurse, known as Hagar. Setting sail from St. Augustine, the Johnstons moved back to England, then re located to Jamaica and finally settled in 7 Johnston refers to her nurse during the evacuation and then ag ain in Jamaica. It is extremely plausible, with of only a few hundred blacks who traveled to England after the Revolution, creating 8 tied to that of her white owner. As the plight of thousands of evacuating Loyalists and their slaves, these lives were swept up a series of forced and sometimes voluntary migrations. Thousands of black lives, especially those who were freed, were dependent upon white British decisions not just during the evacuation, but also in the years before story is just one of the tens of thousands, which make up the Black Atlantic. The variety of black circumstances, locations, destinations and ultimate destinies make up what historians have designated the Black Atlantic. By looking at the black diaspora w ithin the context of the Atlantic World, scholars can appreciate the global dispersion and settlement of African Americans; they settled abroad both 7 Johnston, Recollections of a Georgia Loyalist 222. 8 Ibid. See also Gretchen Gerzina, Black London: Life Before Emancipation (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1995).
133 voluntarily and involuntarily, maintaining a consciousness of their identity and homeland whilst adapting t o new societies. Chambers argues that the Black Atlantic is composed of many smaller micro histories, that when placed together uncover "'a larger, but Black Atlantic ." 9 The interesting combination of an Atlantic world focus and these series of micro histories show how a local focus must be seen in articulation with a global. This chapter follows the individual paths of a few blacks, like Hagar, on the generalized migr ation from Savannah to Charleston and beyond to St. Augustine, while acknowledging blacks experienced a wide variety of emigrations, migrations, and return migrations. By focusing on the small individual threads like Hagar, this chapter weave s together a fuller depiction of how the British understood black freedom and non freedom. As the American Revolution drew to a close, British Loyalists and their slaves fled the newly freed southern colonies to coastal cities. Looking out onto the vast expanse of th e Atlantic Ocean, the evacuating population must have felt apprehension facing a journey into an unfamiliar world. Unbeknownst to these revolutionary refugees awaiting ships on the edge of the British Empire, this evacuation would begin a new series of mig rations in and around the Atlantic World. One Loyalist, Lieutenant Colonel James Moncrief, the Chief Engineer for Georgia and South Carolina, migrated his es from East Florida into Jamaica and then to the Mosquito Coast. 10 9 Chambers, The Black Atlantic, 152 1 55. 10 James Moncrief American Loyalist Claim, TPNA 1/688/241 242. While these slaves earned freedom by laboring on southern military fortifications, the majority remained on American and Loyalist plantations,
134 Using Moncrief and his retinue as a focal point, this chapter follows the path of a few thousand southern refugees into the British Caribbean, on to the Mosquito Coast, and then traces thei r dispersal to Honduras and the Bahamas. 11 Edge of Empire: The Mosquito Coast Robert White, the British agent and mediator for the Mosquito Coast, saw the Loyalist evacuation as a way to expand the British Empire into sparsely populated Spanish territory i represented in histories of the Atlantic World, the Mosquito Coast occupied a parlous and consistently shifting position in relation to British and Spanish New World ambitions. Located on the far western side of the Caribbean in present day Nicaragua and Honduras, the Mosquito Coast stretched down the shore of the Yucatan peninsula occupying the western most edge o f the British Empire and the unfortified middle of the Spanish Empire. Although never an official colony, the Coast had long been a small outpost of the British Empire. The few Spanish conquistadors who had ventured into the choosing familial networks over an uncertain an d dangerous promise of freedom. While the historical record is unfortunately silent on the treatment of these nominally free slaves, Moncrief probably considered them his personal holdings, while, at the same time, the enslaved men and women might have act unusual for the southern evacuation. However, when considered in the context of how many opportunities American blacks had to flee in the revolutionary chaos, bla ck decisions to keep families together must have been paramount. However, either choice to flee or to stay generally concluded with the same outcome. The majority of southern Loyalist blacks remained enslaved and were shipped into the Caribbean. 11 Many his torians have made references to the number of migrating enslaved Africans during the American Revolution. See, Herbert Aptheker, The American Revolution, 1763 1783 (New York: International Publishers, 1960); Richard B. Morris, The American Revolution Recon sidered (New York: Harper & Row, 1967); Benjamin Quarles, The Negro in the American Revolution (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1961); Sylvia R. Frey, Water from the Rock: Black Resistance in a Revolutionary Age (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991). For a summary of the debate, see The William and Mary Quarterly 62, no.2 (April 2005): 243 64.
135 area a century earlier met fier ce native resistance, dense mangroves, swamps, torrential rain, and, of course, mosquitoes. 12 In 1630, John Pym and the few Puritans, tired of the un Godly behavior of their neighbors in Barbados, chartered the Company of Adventurers to lead a Puritan exped ition to the island of Providence, 140 miles off the Mosquito Coast, claiming more land for the British Empire. 13 Operating under a policy of benign neglect, the coastal region became a haven for adventurers and minor traders who founded settlements on this unprotected and isolated Central American Caribbean coast. Olaudah Equiano, arguably the most famous black Atlantic personality, was among those who helped to settle the Mosquito Coast in the 1770s. His narrative is famous for its portrayal of the horror s of the Middle Passage; his plantation adventure in the Mosquito Coast is less well known, but no less compelling. 14 As the first shots of the American Revolution rung out, Equiano was embroiled in a plan to ship Jamaican slaves to the Mosquito Coast to ca pitalize upon the European demand (and high prices) for exotic woods, like mahogany. Equiano and a few other enterprising British citizens 12 Captain Nathaniel Uring, wh The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himse lf 1789, in The Project Gutenberg EBook, http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/15399 (accessed Mary 10, 2009). Barbara Potthast Amrica Negra 6 (1993): 53 65. More than a hundred years later, Equanio ventured into the area and still complained of after the insect, but rather the Miskito Indians who refused to acknowledge nominal Spanish control over See Marston Bates, The Natural History of Mosquitoes (New York: Macmillan, 1949). 13 community. However, the lawless, tropical frontier proved irresistible to rogues, pirates, and prostitutes and the island became one of the more famous p opened trade with the Miskitos, leading the way for a small migration to occur from the island to the mainland. 14 Vincent Carretta, Surprising Narrative: Olaudah Equiano and the Beginnings of Black Aut obiography (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1987).
136 paved the way for the migrants who would flee there from war torn America a decade later, several hundred of whom wer e enslaved blacks from the South Carolina region where Equiano claimed he was born. 15 In the wake of the American Revolution, Robert White hoped to build the Mosquito Coast outpost into a colony by enticing well established southern planters. He proposed th 16 White believed that granting land to Loyalists would be beneficial for planters and the Empire. arent State; and, in consequence, advance, in the highest degree, its commercial enslaved property would be welcomed into the mosquito infested coast in the proverbia l loss of whatever was most precious and valuable in all the southern colonies of North America, such as indigo, cotton, rice, tobacco, &c; as well as numberless (many of them hitherto unknown) plants, shrubs, and trees, useful in medicine and for dying of 15 century Question Slavery and Abolition 20, no. 3 (December 1999): 96 105. 16 It also included a provision for the distressed Baymen of Honduras, who had been unceremoniously run out of Honduras by the Spanish in 1779. Spain burned down Belize City in a surprise attack in 1779. Robert White, The case of the agent to the settlers on the coast of Yucatan: and the lat e settlers on the Mosquito Coast. Stating the whole of his conduct, in soliciting compensation for the losses, sustained by ... His Majesty's injured and distressed subjects (London: printed for T. Cadell, 1793), 70 85; Robert White, The case of His Majest y's subjects having property in and lately established upon the Mosquito Coast in America: Most humbly submitted t [sic] the King's most excellent Majesty in Council, ... Parliament, and the nation of Great Britain at large (London: printed for T. Cadell, 1789), 135 80; John Alder Burdon, (London: Sifton, Praed & Co., Ltd, 1931).
137 17 Thus, the Mosquito Coast became a viable destination for Loyalist refugees because it was envisioned as an alternative source for many of the raw materials lost to Britain from the southern colonies as a result of the Revolution. A few thousand Moncrief oversaw the removal of hundreds of runaway slaves, some of whom 18 Claiming he was worried over women into the West Indies as a protection from angry owners. 19 If Moncrief was, as he claimed, motivated by conc ern for the well being of these former bondsmen, it is also true that his intervention proved personally very lucrative. In 1784, he applied to General Campbell, then Governor of Jamaica, requesting permission to move these blacks to the Mosquito Coast for approved his application, whereupon Moncrief registered these nominally free blacks as his slaves, increasing his own wealth exponentially. Along with other Loyalists, Moncrief thus began the process of recreati ng the slave society they had fashioned in the colonial American South on the Mosquito Coast. However, just a few short years after their arrival, they would be faced with yet another evacuation. 17 White, The Case of the Agent 76 78. 18 19 Moncrief Loyalist Claim, CO 1/688/241 242
138 Mosquito Coast Evacuation The political situation in the Mo squito Coast was perilous at best. The British and the Spanish interpreted the 1783 Treaty of Paris which ended the American Revolutionary War in vastly different ways. The sixth article of the Treaty restricted those expressly given to them by the said 20 In essence, Spain retained undisputed sovereignty over areas inhabited by Spanish settlers in Central America, including the Mosquito Coast. H owever, the Treaty also implied that areas under British control would remain so, thus, in British eyes, keeping the Mosquito Coast 21 The Spanish, however, disagreed. In September 1785, the British and the S panish entered into discussions over the Mosquito Coast and Honduras Bay colonies. A key part of the negotiations was the 22 Clearly man y nominally free and legally enslaved African Americans, irritated at their forced migration and their treatment by the British, had fled to the backcountry. While there is no record of any concerted Spanish effort to harbor these runaways, it seems likely from British holdings to warrant an official clause stipulating that in future the Spanish should return any fugitive British slaves. 20 http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=6&page=transcript (accessed April 3, 2008); Thomas Southey, Chro nological History of the West Indies (London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, 1827), 550. 21 White, The Case of the Agent 74. 22 Ibid.
139 Reverend Stanford, an evangelical Episcopal Chaplin stationed in the Mos quito Coast and later Belize certainly believed that the Spanish offered blacks incentives to flee the British. Writing back to his archdiocese in England, he explained that blacks in the Mosquito Coast fled to the Spanish because they claimed to treat the ir slaves much better than did the British. Rumors and tales tempted blacks who, according to Stanford, work for his master at a stated price; and when his tally of those day s that he has worked for his Master, returned by him to the office and compared with his Masters plantation Book. 23 It was well known on the Colonial plantations of Georgia and Florida, where many of the slaves transp orted to the Mosquito Coast originally lived, that the Spanish gave special privileges to those who escaped to their jurisdictions in the Floridas. This knowledge, coupled with inconsistent British policies towards slavery in the Americas, encouraged many enslaved to flee to Spanish controlled areas or to the undeveloped backcountry. On July 14, 1786, British and Spanish representatives in London signed a convention to prevent "even the Shadow of Misunderstanding which might be occasioned by Doubt, Misconce ptions, or other causes of Disputes between the Subjects on the Frontiers of the two Monarchies, especially in distant Countries, as are 24 British citizens agreed to evacuate the Mosquito Coast and in return, Spain extended Belizean fores try boundaries, agreed to permit mahogany cutting and fishing, and conceded the right to occupy St. George's Key and other 23 W. Stanford to Bishop Porteus, Westmorland, 22 July 22 1788, BNA Fulham Papers, 18, 65 70. 24 White, The Case of t he Agent 76 78.
140 islands to the Spanish. To complicate matters further, the Spanish governor of force if they did not leave within the treaty's eighteen 25 strictly, that Captain Don Juan Bautista Gual, a Spanish commissary sent to oversee the British evacuation of the Mosquito Coast in May 1787, ordered plantations of plantain conventi d it with the greatest reluctance, and passed by many plantations that he knew of, which not being in fight he did not consider himself obliged to take notice of, but merely in 26 British settlers did not view his actions as a conscientious execution of the convention, but as a blatantly aggressive assault on British property and, therefore, an act of war. Believing that the treaty allowed them to grow enough food for consum ption, British 27 Arming enslaved blac ks only fueled 25 Spain in Central America, 1732 The Hispanic American Historical Review 63, no. 4 (November 1983): 677 706. 26 James Bannantine, M emoirs of Edward Marcus Despard (London: printed for J. Ridgway, 1791), 20. 27 Ibid., 20 22.
141 hostilities between the British and Spanish soldiers. Rumors circulated that Bautista so open and publick a the eve of evacuation, the Mosquito Coast erupted in violence. 28 The British government once again gave American Loyalists little choice but to aban don their homes and communities once more, this time leaving the Mosquito Coast for destinations either in Honduras or elsewhere in the British Caribbean. As Moncrief did not actually reside in the Mosquito Coast himself and would die shortly before the ev acuation was completed, he charged a Lieutenant McCerras with the sole task of that i All the valuable Negroes taking advantage of the heavy losses during this chaotic time, when 350 enslaved men and women ran off into Commission of Enquiry into the Losses and Services of the American Loyalists describes how McCerras was forced to make t hree dangerous voyages back and forth between 28 British subjects in the Mosquito Coast were able to secure a seven month reprieve from their slated relocation to the Bay of Honduras so that arrangements could b have included a few free blacks. These evacuations concerned British officials; General Clarke believed that this Memoirs of Edward Marcus Despard, 20 22.
142 recovered blacks were sold in Jamaica for £2000. Historians have no way of knowing if any of these 51 enslaved blacks had once been free in continental North America prior to the Revolution and evacuation. However, it seems likely that the 350 people who fled from Moncrief and evaded McCerras to s tay on the Coast did so to improve their lot; they could have carved out a variety of spaces between the moderately more benign slave regime of the Spanish, the precarious freedom afforded by joining with Natives, or starting their own independent communit ies. 29 Exodus into the Caribbean However, most never gained their freedom and were destined for harsh new lives as plantation laborers in Barbados, Jamaica, and the Bahamas. Hagar, the nurse of famed memoirist Elizabeth Lichtenstein Johnston, was one slave swept up in the tide of refugees who relocated from Georgia to St. Augustine and were scattered across the British Empire. Johnston, in the last months of her pregnancy, evacuated first to Charleston where on 23 August 1782, she bore a daughter named Cathe rine, after her 30 Like most refugees, the Johnston family attempted to set up a life in their new home, until news spread that the Crown had given the Florida colony to Spain. With no other options, William Johnston sold his slaves for in St. Augustine on 10 29 Moncrief, Loyalist Claim, TPNA 1/688/241 243 30 Elizabeth Lichtenstein Johnston, Recollections of a Georgia Loyalist ed. Arthur Wentworth Eaton (New York: M. F. Mansfield, 1901; reprint, Spartanburg, S.C.: Reprint Co., 1972), 73.
143 March 1784. 31 Hagar probably travelled with the family from Georgia to Charleston and then to St. Augustine. It is also very likely that Hagar went with the family on their next voyage to Greenock, Scotland. Johnston recalled in her m a local inn to await the arrival of William Johnston. 32 then crossed the Atlantic once more to Jamaica, where they bought more slaves. 33 Hagar felt about being ripped away from her community and forcibly moved south to St. Augustine, then east across the Atlantic Ocean to Scotland, and finally to the repressive blacks swept up by revolutionary convulsions and carried around the Empire. Obviously, not all the African Americans who join ed the Loyalist exodus from the South were able to find even this modicum of freedom. The patchy historical record means that it is sometimes impossible to be definitive about the fate of these exiles. Still, the evidence suggests that even many of the sou thern blacks who had been granted or promised their freedom by Loyalists like Moncrief in return for military service, some of whom migrated willingly from the American South at the conclusion of the war, lost that freedom in the transition. This pattern i s also suggested by the case of Robert English, another white British Loyalist exile. English was the son of an Irish Quaker in Camden, South Carolina who became a colonel commanding the First Camden Regiment of Loyalist Militia. By 1782, he was 31 Johnston, Recollections of a Georgia Loyalist 222. 32 Ibid., 76. 33 Ibid., 85.
144 banished by the rebel General Assembly for his Loyalist tendencies. The American government confiscated his property. English fled South Carolina, migrated to East Florida with his moveable possessions including 26 slaves and accompanied by nine free blacks. These nine free blacks might have earned their freedom by laboring for English or they could have been free or enslaved deserters who joined English on his escape down the Georgia coast. English reappeared onto the historical record at Black River, Belize in 178 lists slaves, but does not mention any free blacks. It is possible that the net gain of five However, it is m ore likely that some or all of the free blacks who were traveling with English were subsumed into enslaved families. On November 29, 1804, Robert English James English, hi s father, died during the Revolution, leaving his estate to be years after he left the American continent. Interestingly, English concurrently requested that he be able to m ove his property back to the American continent, provided he gain 34 In the migrations of the Revolutionary Era, African Americans who had been promised freedom by the British often found thems elves returned to a slave system which was deemed to be particularly harsh and inflexible. It was not surprising, therefore, that so many should eventually try to escape the clutches of slaveholding British Loyalists like English and Moncrief. Yet decision s to run or to stay were never 34 S The South Carolina Historical Magazine 93, no. 3/4 (July/October 1992): 205 220.
145 easy. There was always the threat of lethal retribution to consider for fugitives who were caught. Even more important were concerns about breaking the community and familial ties which helped African Americans to survive sla very and preserve their humanity. Most African Americans made every effort to remain with friends and, especially, families. It was a sense of priorities that could play out in quite unpredictable ways during the post Revolutionary migrations when white Lo yalists also made efforts to preserve their extended, multi racial families, albeit ones which rested on slavery and the sexual exploitation of black women. As the experiences of Sarah Keeffe within the household of Andrew Cunningham illustrates, African A mericans sometimes accepted a place within white headed families in order to keep kinship networks intact. Andrew Cunningham was a South Carolinia Loyalist who evacuated from Charleston in mid December 1782 for East Florida. He brought along with him hi s wife, two children, and his three black female slaves, including Sarah Keeffe, who was also his mistress. Cunningham took his dependents to Jamaica where he became an officer t. In 1787, Cunningham petitioned the local magistrate to move his family once more, this time to Honduras Bay. His petition described how his wife had died during childbirth in the Mosquito Coast leaving Cunningham to raise his children with his black sla ves, including Sarah Keeffe who, it was revealed, had borne Cunningham seven more children. 35 was baptized on September 26, 1807. 36 In 1810, Samuel Cunningham was baptized as 35 The Memorial of the Loyalists residing at Black River, 5 November 1786, CO Mosquito Coast, 137/8 6, 166 170. 36 See Table 5 1
146 yet she is always referred to as a slave, never as a free woman. Although Keefe probably had more leverage in her relationship with Cunningham than most slaves, she could not extricate herself legally from slavery. Still, she chose to stay with her family and remain a slave, rather than escape to freedom like those who fled into the 37 Migration to Belize Evacuation of the Mosquito Coast began in March 1787 and was completed smoothly and ef ficiently under the direction of Superintendent William Pitt Lawrie and his assistant, Captain Marcus Hunter, with the support of men and ships from Jamaica. Lawrie was the last to leave Black River and arrived at Belize aboard HMS Camelia on July 7, 1787. Of the 2,650 people evacuated the vast majority, 537 whites, freedmen, and 1,677 slaves, went to Belize. The remainder elected to travel by English warships to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Roatan. Lawrie delivered formal possession of the Coast to Spain on August 29, 1787, and the Spanish flag was unfurled at Black River. 38 Evacuating Mosquito Coast residents found Belize less than inviting. The Superintendent of Honduras received instructions from the British government to help and accommodate the large infl ux of refugees but in fighting within the colony and the land claims of previous inhabitants made this request difficult to grant. Colonel Despard 37 224. 38 "Disposal of Mosquito Shore Settlers," July 1787, CO 123/6, 18 19.
147 Bay. The older additional territory ceded by the Convention, was every spot of it claimed as the colony on Provide nce Island, were unwilling to share land with the new settlers, of country, and combin ed to prevent new settlers, either from the Mosquito Coast, or elsewhere, from having any benefit in the produce and trade of the district, which was this monopolized by a very few individuals, styling themselves the principal 39 As a result, n ew migrants from the Mosquito Coast moved to the outskirts of towns, technically onto Spanish land. intense hatred towards him expressed by older inhabitants, who were convince d that the newcomers received preferential treatment from the British government. 40 Loyalists Robert English and Samuel Harrison, a native of Lynch Creek, South Carolina and a member the South Carolina British Rangers, who arrived in Belize having initially been evacuated from Charleston to East Florida with his five slaves, complained to the local 41 39 Bannantine, Memoirs of Edward Marcus Despard 24. 40 Ibid., 24. 41 Memorial, CO 137/86, 166 170.
148 While exiled southern white British Loyalist did not always f are well in Belize, such was the diversity of Atlantic World migratory experience that some American the colony. 42 The Treaty of 1786 had forced white Loyalists and their black charges out overnment 43 Consequently, some may to them appear proper, according to the Behaviour, Character, property or Station of such 44 These privileges included the right to own prop erty and participate in the local government a very different experience for these particular Americas. sta ble life in either the Mosquito Coast or Belize as his relatives fought over them for 1782, Yarborough was banished from America for being a Loyalist and his property was 42 Alfred Clarke to Lord Lyndsey, 30 May 1790, CO Jamaica 137/88, No.7 43 Ibid. 44 Alfred Clarke to Lord Lyndsey, 30 May 1790, CO Jamaica 137/88, no. 6.
149 confiscated before he set sail for Jamaica. He managed to recover only part of his enslaved property, later claiming losses of £2,995. He appears to have either moved to the Mosquito Coast and later evacuated to Belize or gone directly to Belize as he registered at Black River with one white dependent and 30 black slaves. 45 Sarah guardian of M announced her intention to leave Belize and claim land and property in South Carolina. 46 This was by no means uncommon. For decades after the American Revolution began, American Loya lists and their widows and heirs attempted to claim the land, possessions, and human property that they believed had been wrongfully taken from them in the war, or which had been lost in the forced migrations which followed it. 47 The court records do not i ndicate if Sarah Yarborough was ever able to secure ownership of the slaves. Nevertheless, it is clear that the evacuation of the Mosquito Coast had generated multiple claims for personal damages, including lost and runaway slaves. One complexity of the At lantic World was the overlapping legal jurisdictions which Yarborough, Moncrief, and Robert White, the agent for the Mosquito Coast settlers, each tried to negotiate and manipulate to their benefit. White estimated £1,009 in Jamaican currency for all the l ost slaves. While Colonel Moncrief died before the 45 See Table 4 2 46 224. 47 d States and Great Britain Bearing on Journal of Negro History 4 (October 1920): 391 419.
150 48 Lacklin McGillivray, Tomas Cla rk, John Nicholson, and David Lamb each requested compensation for lost wages, homes, and slaves. Unfortunately, these records do not contain any information about who these slaves were, their location, or the migrations they made. 49 Robert Douglas, Attorne y to John Davidson and to the Estate of James Grant and formerly of Black River on the Mosquito Coast, placed the most detailed that Country in 1787 the one named, Caesar, £60 and the other named Deptford £40, 50 In Belize, many blacks fled to the woods rather than face the prospect of yet another migration into the British Indies, a prospect which loomed large in the summer of 1797 when rum ors circulated suggesting that the Spanish intended to attack the remaining British colony. This prompted white slave owners to call an emergency assembly. Rather than risk the potential loss of property, life or limb, residents voted to abandon Belize. Jo hn Nicholson, a militiaman from Georgia who owned 13 slaves and had moved to the Mosquito Coast after the evacuation of Savannah, was one of those who voted to leave. Once the slave community heard about the potential attack, black men and women began to d esert for the local friendly native tribes rather than endure 48 White, The Case of the Agent 177. 49 50 White, The Case of the Agent 178.
151 the unpredictability and hardships of life on the sugar plantations of the British Caribbean. The fact that the British settlement in Belize was so close to both Spanish outposts and friendly na tive tribes gave its slave system a distinctive dynamic. According to one Belize resident, Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Clarke, British citizens 51 If this was an exaggeration, the British did fe el the need to adapt laws and customs because blacks had rather more, if still sorely limited, options than elsewhere in the New World. For example, the Spanish openly encouraged blacks to flee to their settlements where, by embracing the Roman Catholic re ligion they could enjoy many privileges under Spanish entirely ruined from these circumstances, from their slaves fleeing to the Spanish. 52 Letters back to England explained how the British addressed this situation by laborer attending this business, more care and attention is paid to their health than in labor 53 Dependent upon black labor, the British were willing to negotiate, at least indirectly, with the enslaved population. 51 Alfred Clarke to Lord Lyndsey, 30 May 1790, CO Jamaica, 137/88, no. 12. 52 White, The Case of the Agent 179. 53 Ibid., 180 182.
152 Although they doubtless greatly exaggerated the creature comforts enjoyed by those they kept i n bondage, there does appear to have been an effort to partially alleviate their day to day situation, knowing that in so doing British slaveholders might prevent a black exodus to the Spanish and personal ruination. The Bahamas: Another Caribbean Migrat ion By May 1789, many Loyalists were increasingly frustrated by the worsening Concerned ab 54 Othe rs even suggested a return to the Mosquito Coast: a prospect which caused considerable alarm in British government circles. For white Loyalists, the specter of any major transplantation raised the possibility of more slave desertions. Meanwhile, there wer e great fears among British officials and observers that those who moved back to the Mosquito Coast would soon be subsumed within the Spanish Empire. Alfred Clarke even wanted to send a warship to prevent the possibility of a re migration to the Coast. Des pard, however, thought that the British 54 Bay of Honduras, 26 May 1789, CO 137/88, 52. Those few who stayed received special dispensation from the Spanish government as local ambassadors to the Natives.
153 citizens. 55 Clarke was also concerned about the prospect of an increased slave population fleeing to the Spanish shoul d Loyalists return to the Mosquito Coast. He jokingly proposed to the Governor of Jamaica, John Dalling, a plan to free any British slaves on the Coast, ship them to the Bahamas, and provide them with six months provisions; a proposal which betrayed an app reciation that the only way to prevent large scale desertion was through the offer of freedom, just as it affirmed that any such informed of the intentions of the peop situation I know but of one way to prevent it, [large scale desertion] which would be to declare their negroes free, and assure them of lands in the Bahamas Islands and six months provisions; but I should not be warranted to give them any such assurance, 56 concerns over whether Loyalists would remain loyal to the Crown a nd whether their slaves could be kept in British hands on the Mosquito Coast, encouraged him to urge that migrant Loyalists and their enslaved property should be offered land in the the coast of the Mosquito Coast, which by the late convention with Spain is now to be 55 Bay of Honduras, 27 May 1789, CO 137/88, 53. 56 Ibid.
154 were chiefly employed in the cultivation of cotton, of which they had favourable accounts from the Bahamas, and if you have room for them, may become valuable settlers; but I do not wish to encourage them to go there with their slaves and effects, until I hear from you that they can be easily accommodated with lands suited to their pu rposes, and upon what terms. They consist of about three or four hundred persons of all descriptions and complexions and they will be supplied from home with provisions for a few months after their arrival. 57 On February 23, 1787, the Governor of Jamaica w rote to the newly established Governor of the Bahamas, Lord Dunmore, to discuss the possibility of the islands becoming the latest Caribbean refuge for displaced southern Loyalists and their black charges. Dunmore had his own history with American blacks. By issuing a proclamation in 1775 offering freedom to any blacks enslaved by rebel Americans, Dunmore had 58 After evacuating Virginia during the War, Dunmore had fled to England. Subsequently, he was appointed Gove rnor of the Bahamas, where he inherited a problem partly of his own making. Thousands of enslaved blacks, some legally owned and some stolen by Loyalists, had been transported to the islands after the war. A few of them had been promised freedom but were t hen, in a familiar story, re John Maxwell, the intermittent Bahamian Governor from 1780 to 1784 recorded a few shipments of Loyalists to the large number of Loyalists an d blacks who sailed into the Bahamas. Maxwell wrote 57 Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Soci ety and Monthly Record of Geography. (London: Edward Stanford, 1879 1892), 134. [Emphasis in original] 58 William and Mary Quarterly 15, no. 4 (October 1958): 494 507.
155 to Lord Sydney describing the sheer numbers of refug ees who traveled to the Bahamas over 4300 in a period of 2 years. He explains that just after the evacuation of East Florida, ive Hundred Whites and one Thousand Blacks arrived on the islands. From June to vi ctualling the following Loyalists from East Florida Vizt 323 white men, 64 white women, 2300 Negroes. the end of 1785. 59 As the Bahamas was an established destination for Loyalists and their slaves Dunmore concluded tha t several islands for the new Loyalist migrants from Belize. situation for them, it would be advisable that three or four of the most intelligent and respectable of th ose people. .visit and inspect these islands in order that they may be the Bahamas having received a favorable account of the Island of Andros, commissioned the ship Com moreo to convey Loyalists and their slaves to St. Andro. In 1788, Daniel M'Kinnen toured the island, by this time known as San Andreas, possibly because some of the British Loyalists who went there migrated from St Andreas Island off the Mosquito Coast of two white heads of families, and 60 While not the numbers Clarke promised, 132 59 Maxwell to Sydney, Bahamas CO 23/25. 60 D aniel M'Kinnen, A Tour Through the British West Indies, In the Years 1802 and 1803 (London: Printed for J. White, 1804), 255. See also, R. W. Burchfield and Roger Lass, The Cambridge History of the English Language: English in Britain and Overseas (Cambrid ge: Cambridge University Press, 1994). For legends surrounding the settling of San Andreas, see Washington Daily News 13 October 1937.
156 enslaved blacks had apparently moved no doubt with varying degrees of enthusiasm, from the Mosquito Coast to San And reas. In 1833, they would finally be emancipated under the Slavery Abolition Act. While James Moncrief never had to deal with the legal ramifications of increasing his property holdings by essentially enslaving once free blacks amid the legal and migrato ry flux of the Revolution, Dunmore was forced to deal with many blacks who felt had been hijacking free Blacks from America and were selling them to the French at Hispaniol 61 Among free blacks anger at this practice turned into violent protest as in Nass au, enslaved blacks claiming to have been freed during the American Revolution built a makeshift camp. Fortified by growing numbers, the members of this illegal camp flaunted their newly declared freedom. Blacks also established another small illegal camp near Fort Charlotte as an asylum for runaways where "no white person dares make his appearance. .but at risk of his life." Lord Dunmore, having arrived in the Bahamas only two days previously, attempted to deal with the problem of this very aggressive bl ack bid for freedom, by issuing a proclamation bestowing pardons upon any fugitive blacks who surrendered themselves. Those who came forward would have their story heard in court. Dunmore's attempt to reconcile conflicts over property claims for runaway sl aves resulted in the re enslavement of 29 of the 30 slaves who appeared before his Negro Court. Despite his earlier emancipationist rhetoric in Virginia and 61 Sandra Riley, Homeward Bound: a History of the Bahama Islands to 1850 with a Definitive Study of Abaco in the American Loyalist Plantation Period (Miami: Riley Hall, 2000), 169.
157 apparent moderation towards fugitive blacks in the Bahamas, Dunmore clearly decided in favor of whi te slave owners and their property rights, not least his own: the re 62 Just as Moncrief had acquired more human property under the guise of helping displaced and vulnerable blacks, so the contradictory rhetoric and self potency of whi te power in the Revolutionary Atlantic. Overshadowed in much of the historiography of the Revolutionary Era by events in the northeastern theater, what happened in the American South and in the Caribbean to which it was so intimately and intricately connec ted has often been pushed to the very edges of British Empire and American history. By focusing on the experiences of southern Loyalists as they and their slaves abandoned Continental North America for a series of other locations in the Americas, this chap ter refocuses attention often is, in the particulars of this story we can see a multi directional movement of peoples that spanned multiple empires, colonies, islands, an d communities within the Atlantic World revealing the larger imperial, social, legal, economic and political networks in which particular groups and individuals were implicated and ensnared. Most important, however, the story of the men and women of Africa n descent embroiled in the Loyalist exodus from the South, of their struggles to maintain familial and communal ties and to claim, or reclaim, various kinds of freedom, reminds us of the 62 Riley, Homeward Bound 169; Proclamation, CO 23/27, 76 79.
158 sheer diversity of Black Atlantic experiences. Indeed, these particul ar stories raise much broader issues relating to how power, agency, and mobility operated during the Revolutionary Era. Moncrief and other white Loyalists traveled around the Atlantic World searching for personal advancement and economic opportunity. Black s also moved around the Atlantic, but in very different circumstances and for different purposes As we have seen, faced with yet another move when the Mosquito Coast was evacuated a lacks sought refuge in the Spanish backcountry rather than be subjected to another move and possible separation from family and communal ties. In this context, mobility allowed them to exercise a modicum of control over their destinies and personal life forced, voluntary, opportunistic, and planned seems to connect black and white experiences, the term implies a kind of freedom, a degree of volition and power that does not reflect historic realities: choices to move or not move were made but, especially for blacks, rarely made freely. If mobility, the traversing of traditional boundaries of state and Empire, is one of the central themes of Atlantic history, the story of the southern black and white Loyalist migrations after the Americ an Revolution reminds us that Atlantic World mobility worked in many ways and ran in many directions. One way blacks, seemingly, achieved a modicum of freedom was to volunteer for the British military.
159 Table 5 1. A List of Slaves Attributed to Sarah Cu nningham in a 1816 Census of Loyalist Refugee Settlers in Belize. Name Age (Years) Adam 9 Ariadne 17 Bella 5 Bellusa 40 Brister 4 Cumberland 15 Cynthia 36 Diana 12 Eve 4 Frank 14 George 35 George Sambo 4 Green 15 Harriet 18 Johnny 35 Juli us 35 Margery 25 Moco Cynthia 36 Nancy 3 November 20 Patience 2 Quashie 50 Rebecca 8 Royal 1 Sabina 50 Stephen 1 Venus 20 William 18
160 Table 5 2. American Loyalists and the Number of White Companions and Slaves Moved to the Mosquito Coast. Dis placed White Loyalists White Persons Negroes James D. Yarbrough 2 30 Robert English 6 31 Samuel Harrison 2 7 Lachlan McGillwray 1 23 Donald McPherson 1 Absolum Bull 3 1 And:w Cunningham 3 1 John Blythe 1 17 Daniel Dewalt 3 2 John Nicholson & DMP 2 13 Jacob Hoover 2 6 William Bennett 3 Drewey Smith 4 James Hickson 1 George Rabon 4 Rutledge Nelson 4 Joseph Waleston 1 Benj.n Parker 1 George Lovel 1 Edw:d Marcey 1 James Surcy 1 Rich:d Snelling 4 3 William Fowler 2 2 Peter Deva lt 1 John Clapper 4 John Bird 2 3 L. Bird 2 Richard Raborn 3 Total 66 143
161 CHAPTER 6 USE AND MISUSE OF EX SLAVES IN THE BRITIS H CARIBBEAN As has been previously illustrated, British officials on the American continent promised enslaved blacks fre edom in exchange for fleeing to the British. The ploy worked. Thousands of slaves, both American and Loyalist, fled to the British. Yet, there was no organized policy in the southern colonies to deal with the refugees. Most blacks who volunteered, hoping f or freedom, found themselves re enslaved. However, a small minority found a quasi freedom in the military ranks that allowed a certain degree of control over their own destiny. The idea of arming blacks in the Caribbean circulated the British Caribbean for a century before the American Revolution. It took the foresight and tenacity of Governor Mathew for the idea to come to fruition. Mathew believed that American blacks provided the perfect solution. American blacks held no familial loyalty to enslaved Cari bbean blacks. As a result, British official General Mathew came to believe that American blacks would be less likely to encourage plantation revolts. In the eyes of British government officials, they became a perfect, non native military presence a tempora ry solution that would help solve both the military shortage in the Caribbean and alleviate the problem over what to do with blacks freed by British proclamations. Mathew requested the Black Carolina Corps become the first standing black military force in the Caribbean. The Black Carolina Corps sailed from the American continent and entered into a politically complicated situation in the Caribbean. The British Caribbean sharply distinguished between black and white. There was very little upward social movem ent for free blacks or free people of mixed race. The stark social situation proved a tricky position to for the newly freed black American troops. It was first proposed that black
162 American troops help to secure the Mosquito Coast in British Honduras in or der to find a passage from the Caribbean to the Pacific Ocean. Only a few freed black soldiers helped with this scheme, while the majority were shipped at the end of the revolution to St. Vincent and then Grenada as barrack builders. The troops encountered British officials who believed the troops were simply an enslaved force, to be put to work in their households or pet projects. Governor Mathew tried to return the troop back to its previous intentions as a military force. In order to replenish the dimini shing ranks, he began recruiting troops from Canada the same previously freed blacks who sailed from New York to Nova Scotia. By 1794, the remnants of the Carolina Corps, along with the new Canadian recruits, became a permanent contingent of the West India n regiment. 1 The Question to Arm Blacks The earliest record of recruiting and arming slaves dates back to the 1660s in Barbados, yet there was no broad concerted effort or long term sustainable black military force until after the American Revolution. The British tradition of arming slaves, especially during wartime or in emergency situations was a common, effective and, most importantly, a temporary solution to a problem that plagued all empires: labor shortage. European powers, short on white labor and ra vaged by disease, made limited use of blacks for military service in the Caribbean. Freeing blacks and conscripting them 1 Peter Michael Voelz, Slave and Soldier: The Military Impact of Blacks in the Colonial Americas (New York: Garland, 1993); Wilbur Hen ry Siebert, The Legacy of the American Revolution to the British West Indies and Bahamas: A Chapter Out of the History of the American Loyalists (Columbus: Ohio State University, 1913); James W. Walker, The Black Loyalists: The Search for a Promised Land i n Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone, 1783 1870 (New York: Africana Pub. Co., 1976); Henry Lumpkin, From Savannah to Yorktown: The American Revolution in the South (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1981); Beverley A. Steele, Grenada: A History of It s People (Oxford: Macmillan Caribbean, 2003); and Edward McCrady, The History of South Carolina in the Revolution, 1775 1780 (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1901).
163 concerted policy but rather was warily adopted as an u rgent measure in response to a 2 The American Revolution simply tapped into and codified a long running, if inconsistent, policy of temporarily arming slaves. Colonial society, in both the Caribbean and the American mainland, developed an inherent ambiguity over blacks soldiers. White British citizens vacillated between 3 4 Slave owners in frontier areas armed slaves when they lived in close proximity to Native Americans or when faced with other threats. Weapons were carefully guarded by colonists during 5 While there were numerous reports of enslaved blacks being armed for purposes of personal protection across the British colonies, officials viewed arming 6 Whites outnumbered slaves in the n orthern American colonies. In these regions, the arming of an enslaved population was generally discouraged by planters. However, the southern British colonies experimented with arming enslaved r in 1739. Armed 2 Christopher Leslie Brown and Philip D. Morgan, Arming Slaves: From Classical Times to th e Modern Age (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), 182 3 Ibid., 183. 4 Ibid. 187. 5 Ibid. 185. 6 Ibid. 187.
164 invasions of St. Augustine. By the mid 1750s there were still little to no consensus on arming blacks. 7 The empire wide discussion over arming blacks waxed and waned in response to the threat of slave revolts. Incidents of violence scared proponents into 8 Virginia was a veritable hotbed of rumors about slave resistance between 1755 and the American Revolution. 9 revolution proved to change attitudes towards arming slaves in the Caribbean. 10 The first mention of arming slaves for the American Revolution was Public Advertiser that appeared on November 23, 1774. After returning from an extended tour of America, Draper published a pamphlet describing how to put down the rebellion. He argued that the British crown could easil y regain and rally those loyal to the empire; especially as only a few of the 7 French Caribbean islands had little to no protection from the crown. Thus French Islands created a bureaucratic structure codifying the use o f black soldiers. 8 The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 105, no. 2 (Spring 1997): 165. 9 David, Jay and Elaine Forman Crane, The Black Soldier: from the American Revolution to Vietnam (New York: Morrow, 1971); Edgerton, Robert B., Hidden Heroism: Black Soldiers in America's Wars (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2001); Thomas Truxtun. Black Soldiers Black Sailors Black Ink: Research Guide on Afric an Americans in U.S. Military History, 1526 1900 (Chesapeake Bay [VA]: Moebs Pub. Co, 1994); Eric Grundset, Briana L. Diaz, Hollis L. Gentry, and Jean D. Strahan, Forgotten Patriots: African American and American Indian Patriots in the Revolutionary War: A Guide to Service, Sources and Studies (Washington, D.C.: National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, 2008). 10 Arming Slaves from Classical T imes to the Modern Age, ed. Morgan and Christopher Leslie Brown (Yale University Press, New Haven, 2006), 180.
165 Freedom to their Negroes; then how long would they [the Americans] 11 Considered within the context of this long history of arming enslaved blacks, Lord in which he offered rebel current practices. 12 Even though only applied to a segment of the black population, openly freeing blacks caused a massive uproar. Planters blamed black unrest on Du Crown to use and arm previously enslaved men who flocked to the British hoping to were they to do with armed, prev iously enslaved blacks? Early Attempts to Raise a Black American Caribbean Regiment At the same time British commanders in the American colonies wrestled with this question, John Dalling, the governor of Jamaica between 1777 and 1782, began looking to sol valuable, sugar producing Caribbean regions. As the British Empire struggled over what to do with the lack of troops, Dalling believed he had a solution. Dalling perceived North American blacks as isolated and vulnerable, living without any local family, friends, or knowledge of the terrain they occupied. They would make perfect mercenaries in th e Caribbean islands. When Charleston evacuated at the end of the revolution, Dalling 11 The Thoughts of a Traveller Upon Our American Disputes (London; J.Ridley, 1774), 21. 12 Brown and Morgan, Arming Slav es, 189.
166 sent a recruitment team to the city in order to woo potential soldiers, including white B ritish Loyalists and free black men and women A few years later, he sent recruite rs to Nova Scotia to solicit troops from the nascent free black American community. While creating a Caribbean regiment made up of American blacks. In fact, Dalling had a l arger goal in mind. Echoing the ideas of Richard Hakluyt, Dalling wanted to connect the Caribbean with eastern Pacific trade. By using the meager contingent of Jamaican soldiers to invade and conquer the sparsely populated Spanish territories in Central Am erica, he would be the first to find a passageway across the narrow isthmus. In order to achieve such a monumental task, the British Caribbean colonies would need to recruit a much larger workforce, train a new pool of soldiers, and plan the attack while s imultaneously defending threatened sugar plantations. Dalling believed that American blacks could provide the necessary labor. In the same year as Henry Clinton's Philipsburg Proclamation indiscriminately freed any American black who ran to the British, G overnor Dalling submitted a plan to raise two black, light infantry regiments to defend against and potentially attack Spanish troops on the Mosquito Coast. While the British in America lured refugee slaves to ack Jamaican regiments was comprised of serve for the duration of the American Revolution or for three years, whichever came plan to use free mulattoes was met with fierce resistance from fearful, minority white plantation owners.
167 Unwilling to give up on his dream of a conscripted force of black soldiers, Governor Dalling came up with what he believed was a perfect solution one which would appease white plantation owners and provide the necessary protection which the British West Indies so desperately needed. West Indian planters refused to arm Caribbean slaves, mulattoes, and free blacks, but free and enslaved American blacks did not pose the same threat. American blacks did not harbor any local loyalties and were not likely to encourage slaves to revolt. Allegiance be came a matter of practicality. the B ritish for provisions, and more importantly, their freedom. In order to put this plan into action, Dalling entrusted Major William Odell, Charles Montagu, and Captain Jeffrey Amherst to recruit soldiers from the American shore. They specifically targeted i mprisoned white Americans and the itinerant black population turned away by the Philipsburg proclamation. Plan to Find a Pacific Waterway a battalion of the Loyal American R 13 Odell succeeded in enlisting over 300 men in New York where he found a willing population in the panic stricken city. Forced to evacuate, Loyalists then flocked t o New York as one of only two British held cities Kingston on February 8, 1781. Shortly thereafter, Odell boarded another transport headed to Pensacola, Florida to recruit more soldiers. Ironically, the Spanish had just 13 Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research 48 (Spring 1970): 9.
168 Regiment, led by Charles Montagu. 14 1780 from Charleston, South Carolina. Montagu sailed into Charleston to spend a few months recruiting m en and within a few days of February 10, 1781, 369 men and four black pioneers had agreed to serve. The Cumberland regiment served in Jamaica for the duration of the American Revolution until August 24, 1783 when the regiment was disbanded. 15 Of the recruit ers working for Governor Dalling, Captain Jeffrey Amherst had the worst luck recruiting British troops. After traveling to New York and then Charleston, Amherst could only raise one company of 100 men. These men joined either the Loyal American Rangers or 16 However, while small in number, Dalling dreamed of grand designs for these previously enslaved blacks. Finding an eastern passage had long been a dream for the British Empire. First Discourse on Virginia Planters the British had long been 14 11. 15 Both black and white veterans were permitted to settle in Jamaic a or Nova Scotia. 16 11.
169 infatuated by finding a cheaper, more reliable path to the east. 17 Dalling believed that a canal coul d be carved directly through the sparsely populated corridor from British Honduras through the inland and to the Pacific Ocean. The Spanish used the Pacific Ocean to pass goods unmolested up and down the coast of their large empire. Hoping to capitalize on lax Spanish oversight in the area, Dalling planned to attack the Spanish, capture the land for the canal and begin a Caribbean to China trading line. In order to carry out his risky plans, Dalling used the few troops he had lured from the American Revolut ion. The plan for the new trade route went awry however, as the lack of labor and inclement weather forced the troops to surrender. Royal governors across the British Empire used blacks as soldiers, when it was in Central America, the Carolina Negroes fought for the British in Charleston. There was not a coordinated effort to move American blacks into fighting positions in the Caribbean; rather it was a series of individual decisions which moved the Carolina Corp s into the region. Even after the recruitment and movement of Carolina blacks into the Caribbean, governors and officers continued to argue over their use. Black Carolina Corps The Carolina Corps had been raised in South Carolina in 1779 from a cadre of f ree black men who had remained loyal to the King when other colonists rebelled. The unit consisted of nearly 300 soldiers, divided into units of Pioneers, Artificers, and Dragoons. Pioneers, specialized troops, helped to prepare the way for marching troops by removing trees and brush and building or repairing roads for the passage of infantry, 17 George Bruner Parks and James Alexander Williamson, Richard Hakluyt and the English Voyages (New York: American Geographical Society, 1928).
170 artillery, and supply wagons. Artificers was a classification used to designate any skilled workers who could aid a marching army, including carpenters, blacksmiths a nd farriers, tinsmiths, coopers, wheelwrights, horse collar makers, and even miners. Skilled horsemen, or Dragoons, were infantrymen who rode horses to the scene of battle and dismounted to fight on foot. Equestrians were difficult to come by. Even rarer w ere previously enslaved blacks who learned to ride on plantations. By 1782, South Carolina did not know what to do with the Black troops. Letters were furiously sent between the governor of South Carolina, Sir Guy Carleton, and the leaders of the troops. F inally, after the American Revolution, the Black Corps left for Grenada and eventually also served in St. Vincent, before their consummation into the West India Regiment in 1795. 18 Ed ward Mathew was confirmed in his rank of Major General in 1779 and returned to England in 1780. In November 1782, Mathew was appointed Commander in Chief, West Indies as Lieutenant General and served as Governor of Grenada from 1784 through 1795. Mathew wa in the obscure Northhanger Abbey. 19 historian argued that Mathe 18 Park Honan, Jane Austen: Her Life (New York: S t. Martin's Press, 1987). 19 Anne Matthews was the daughter of the Duke of Ancaster, Lady Jane Bertie, who was married in St. ne of the most promising men in the Coldstream Guards Captain Edward Mathew. 19 sister Cassandra. In fact, Jane Austen memorialized his demeanor as the basis for her characte r General Tilney in Northhanger Abbey. Honan, Jane Austen, 92.
171 but James Edward 20 Jane in law Edward Mathew had so excelled as a Guards captain that he became first equerry to King George III and then brigadier general in New York. There, he led part of the infantry attack on Fort Washington. After fighting in Virginia and New Jersey, Mathew returned to E ngland where he was asked twice by the King to be the Governor of Grenada. He accepted the position and became the governor of Grenada in 1781. 21 The following year, Governor Mathew successfully recruited the first official black corps used in the protecti on and defense of the British Caribbean colonies. However, this success was shortly overshadowed. British colonies did not have any experience dealing with black troops. Caribbean governors constantly bickered over who had jurisdiction over broad policies, such as joint military operations, thus creating a power struggle in the empirical hierarchy. White governors became territorial over blacks, which resulted in hardships for the Carolina Corps as well as disagreements over their utilization from inception 20 Honan, Jane Austen, 232. 21 Grenada as legitimate salary from the Royal Exchequer) and since the K ing had lost his memory they were later billed for £24,000: the price of the original debt and the compounded interest. The family paid affected not only the liv es of General and Lady Jane Mathew, but those of James Austen and his wife. daughter Anna discovered. General Mathew had married on the assumption that £7,000 f Anne when she married James Austen in March 1792, and the remainder was thought would be paid when the General died. Honan, Jane Austen 92, 232.
172 Negotiating Control over the Black Carolina Corps Mathew sent the Carolina Corps, under the authority of Major W. Chester to St. Vincent an island transitioning from French to British rule after the revolution. Chester was charged with repairing the bar racks and fort to protect citizens from outside attack as well as create a show of force to the remaining French population angry at the transition to British rule. However, the Governor understood the arriving black troops to be under his jurisdiction. Ed mund Lincoln, Governor of Grenada (1783 1787) began issuing orders and taking blacks for his own personal use. While the mundane issue of jurisdiction might be mistaken for a simple miscommunication, the British Empire had never dealt with a question over black troops before. The inclination of the governor and most plantation masters was to simply re enslave the blacks and use them for personal purposes. However, attitudes were shifting. As a result, the argument between the Governor of a small island and a military commander represents more than just a simple squabble over jurisdiction, but the difficult transition the British Empire was undergoing in its understanding and use of black individuals. By the War of 1812, attitudes had changed enough to where the blacks who evacuated with the British requested their own land and were settled in Trinidad as free farmers. In the spring of 1784, word reached British command that the French were sm uggling arms into St. Vincent in an attempt to reclaim the island. T he Island of St. Vincent had long been a point of contention between the two empires, passing back and forth between France and Britain with dizzying frequency. The 1763 Treaty of Paris bestowed St. Vincent to the British, only for the French to re capture the colony by force in 1779, while the American Revolution distracted the British. The 1783 Treaty of Paris returned St. Vincent to British rule, along with Grenada, Dominica, St. Christopher's (St.
173 Kitts), Nevis and Montserrat along with an agreement tha t guaranteed French colonists French began to organize and plot ways to return the island to French rule. Edward Mathew hoped to stem the tide of French discontent b y sending out the Black Carolina Corps as a police force to keep the colonists at bay. In May 1784, Edward Mathew applied to the commander of the only vessel in the Grenada Bay, Experiment for permission to embark from Grenada for St. Vincent with the Ca rolina Negroes. He planned to re connect the divided Carolina Corps in order to protect St. Vincent from both internal strife and a French military attack. The Experiment sailed with the Light Company of the 2 nd Battalion of the 60 th and a detachment of 30 22 In the same letter, th that Regiments from Jamaica, to see the 19 th in their former station, from whence I was 23 By re establishing the Carolina Corps as a single black unit, Mathew believed the regiment would have enough men to protect British interests on the island. As the French military departed the island, Mathew reported the colonists were simultaneously importing arms into St. Vincent. Rumors circul ated that the French 22 Edward Mathew, Governor of Grenada Headquarters, 31 May 1784, CO 101/26, Folios 118 122. 23 31 May 1784, CO 101/26.
174 24 Mathew believed that some French citizens intended to use imported weapons to protect property from the British. Howeve r, the importation of arms coupled with the rumors of hostility encouraged Mathew to take a harder stance. He file of the 35 th nearly enough for the show of 25 Mathew decided to press on with the meager numbers and sail the Carolina blacks to St. Vincent, hoping to combine forces with other pieces of the Carolina Negro Corps Mathew had already requested set sail to St. Vincent. On May 5, 1784 this two contingents of the Carolina Negro Corps met in St. Vincent. Thi s was undoubtedly a bittersweet reunion for some as they exchanged tales of their toil and travels. However, the homecoming did not come without issues. Major W. Chester, placed in charge of the black troops by Governor Mathew, would soon find his troop in a bureaucratic predicament. Mathew gave Chester authority over all troops in St. Vincent in order to lead the barrack and fort repair, however, Governor Lincoln believed that his authority as r arrived in St. Vincent, he busied himself with the task at hand. He gave an order to employ the American Negros brought from Grenada and those already stationed in St. Vincent to begin preparing the land for the new military barracks. The order requested that all 24 Ibid. 25 Ibid.
175 and then proceed to fix the barracks. 26 The local engineer in charge refused to give the order to American blacks already station in St. Vincent. Half of the corps did not show up to work the next day. Governor Lincoln believed he had full authority over the island, while Chester believed he was invested with the Commander of the West Indies authority to look out for the safety of the troops. In order to clea r up the confusion over authority, the Governor and Major Chester agreed to meet over dinner. However, dinner only brought a short respite from the confusion. As the men talked, tensions rose. Chester explained that as a result of his command from Mathew, he was in command of all American blacks across the Island. Governor Lincoln, on the other hand, believed that the restingly, these specific blacks in question were probably serving dinner and cleaning up afterwards while eavesdropping on a conversation about their future. Chester explained that he had no ation work to spare slaves until the Governor could spare them. According to Chester, Governor Lincoln over the explaining how Lieutenant General Mathew had placed Chester in charge over all the forces in the British Caribbean. Chester explained that he would give the as sistance of 26 10 June 1784, CO 101/25/28.
176 rules of the Service only requesting that you would signify your desire to me, either by 27 The two men seemed to ha ve worked out exactly how to precede, thus Chester began to rebuild the barracks. The understanding between these men was short lived, as the Governor served powers. Ju st a month after they struck an agreement, a new liaison, Major of Brigade, he w Governor Lincoln demanded that Major Chester comply with his written orders. Even if any power over them. The next day, Chester wrote his response, which emphatically described that his orders were to take control over the troops and serve the best interests of the empire by protecting the island. Governor Lincoln commissioned a warrant t o court martial Chester, in an attempt to wrest control over the black troop from Chester. On a hot and humid June day, just a few months after arriving, Chester appeared before the court and listened to the grave charges against him. Chester rose and dec lined to comment. He claimed later in a letter black soldiers as servants as long as he officially asked. 27 Ibid.
177 Both Chester and Lincoln felt they held authority over the Negro Co rps, and in a way they were both correct, as blacks even those who were free were subject to the authority of whites. The British Empire did not have a way of dealing with the exceptional case the Negro Corps posed. Lincoln believed the British King appoin ted or his own use. 28 Still angry over the court martial, Major Chester began to attack the Governor for failing to support the troops with provisions. Major Chester chose this opportune ards of five a form to sit down on, or a Table to eat off, in show without Utensil 29 By writing these complaints to Lincoln, Chester hoped to show not only how negligent the Governor had been, but also begin to make a case for his authority. Lincoln replied in a letter expressing that he had indeed offered to provide the troops with supplies, but that Chester turned down the offer. Angry at the implication 28 Major W Chester to Arthur Leith Campbell, 20 June 1784, CO 101/25; Maj or Chester to Governor Lincoln, 7 June 1784, CO 101/25. 29 20 June 1784, CO 101/25/28.
178 offe red at my own risk to purchase Cattle and fatten them for the use of the Garrison knowing as I do the necessity of fresh Provisions for the sick and convalescent, and anxious as I am about their Health, but you then refused my offer, saying you had a fund belonging to the Regiment that would last some time and which you appropriated to that purpose. 30 Lincoln believed that Chester had never officially applied for provisions. Instead of officially applying, Lincoln believed that Chester hoped to blame the Gov ernor for his troops, ordering Doctor Young to examine the military hospital. Young also reported on the quantity and quality of the remaining provisions. The Doctor re ported that 80 pounds of meat a week would be necessary to feed the sick soldiers, and that amount was k with Mathew to 31 instead, he asked Lincoln to supply the hospital with fresh meat for the sick. Healthy soldiers could go without meat, but Mathew believed it was a requirement for the ill recruits. Troops as Barrack Builders The documents describing the travails of the Carolina Negro Corps end with arolina Corps appear in the documents 30 20 June 1784, CO 101/25/28. 31 101/25/28.
179 almost a year later in Grenada as Mathew decides to use the troops to repair the Barracks and the Fort. Grenada, just as St. Vincent, shifted ownership frequently. The British returned to find the Fort almost unusable. Mathew decided to repair the Fort, The first French settlers built the original groundwork for the fort around 1715 and since this time, each succeeding regime added hap hazardly to the fort. The fort became British Empire. Mathew used black corps repair th e Fort for military and personal reasons. Mathew found his own accommodations, the Old Government House at Fort George, lacking. So, Mathew moved into the officer barrack, which he then slated for a complete refurbishment, alongside the fort repair. The officer barrack was an old wooden building, which had not fared well in the rigors of a Caribbean climate. In a letter to Lord Sydney, Mathew explained how Colonel Kemble surveyed the work and old one now stands, The stone is found upon the spot and very good for the purpose, 32 In order t o undertake such a large project the repair of the fort and the refurbishment of the officer barracks a large contingent of blacks were needed to provide the labor. This large number of laborers would be also be necessary for 32 30 March 1785, CO 101/26/30
180 Quarters Bombproof, in order to serve as effectual covering in the event of a siege, Officer and 30 Men, which smal l detachment, with some heavy Guns, will fully occupy day and Rum, the expence cal culated at 6d sterling per man The common hire of 33 By utilizing black soldiers, farmers would not have to spare field slaves from the sugarcane fields. The Barracks would be built on a prime piece of land near the se a and would be purchased by the colony. Mathew ordered the In order to help speed the process, the colony voted to buy additional slaves to 34 about the likelihood of French uprisings, and his own place to live, Mathew wanted the work to be done quickly. 35 33 30 March 1785, CO 101/26/30. 34 23, 16. 35 of the regiment I have be
181 barrack and repair the Battery at Fort Shirley. Their second project would be to reinforce towards the sea with very bold and abrupt rocks; on its summit is a level, on which, if found necessary, orders may be given hereafter to assistance in negro labor for th 36 Reinforcing the Battery at Fort Shirley became such a priority that blacks were pulled from all other projects. Frazer station, and for making the Defences more considerable, was perfectly reconciled to post pone any Establishment upon the western Cabrite, by way of Citadel, till the works now directed shall be completed, when the operation of them may be more distinctly 37 On June 1791, Mathew expressed how the fortification at Richmond Hill was progressing. In order to save the colony money, he wanted to furnish a working party of of common Labore 38 Once he received permission, Mathew dismissed all the hired Corps and that the House of Assembly had granted an aid of twenty Negro masons with one Master Mason and one Master Smith, for six months, towards completing 36 Ibid. 37 Ibid. 38 4 June 1791, CO 101/31/63, Folios 222 223.
182 charted out his estimate for the labor and materials necessary to erect a barracks on Mount Cardigan. (Table 6 1). How t o Distinguish Slaves from the Negro Corps There had been little to no distinguishing factors between enslaved blacks and those blacks who occupied a quasi free position working in the military Corps for the British government. As shown by the issues with S t. Vincent, Mathew continued to battle against ingrained administrative and personal ingrained prejudices which placed the Negro Corps on the same footing as slaves. The situation became even more pronounced when the Grenada voted to buy slaves to help spe ed the along the project. The new slaves would be working alongside the auspiciously free Black Carolina Corps, thus creating an illusion of the enslavement of the Corps. As slaves began to work alongside the Carolina Negro Corp, Mathew began to institut e small markers to distinguish the two groups, mainly through the allotment of provisions, leadership, and punishment. Mathew began to distinguish the Carolina Corps. He believed that the black troops should be provided provisions whereas hired blacks woul 39 Enslaved men were supposed to grow their own food and tend to their own needs, while the colony would pr ovide provisions for black soldiers. As for leadership, Mathew recommended to Grenville that Lieutenant Colonel provincial rank of Colonel, would be a situation in whic h he could render great service to 39 14 July 1791, 101/31/75, CO Folios 252 253.
183 Government. The want of a commanding Officer is, at present, a consistent inconvenience; and should the Corps be recruited, as has been proposed to Your 40 In order to garner respect for his new Corps, Mathew attempted to provide them with the same structure as white corps. In so doing, the Carolina Corps were also held to the same standard in terms of punishment. In St. George, four soldiers from the 60 th Regiment were indicted for one of those sentenced to death, who had served in the Black Dragoons and as a successor: on this Island, Mr James Greene, who served several years as an officer in the 28 th Reg presents himself, he is recommended to me, as equal to fill the station with credit to himself, and to the Corps. 41 was found Guilty of a Capital Offence and sentenced to suffer Death. His Execution took place at the same time with the above soldiers. 42 60 th Regiment indicted of Capital Crimes were foun d Guilty and sentenced to suffer Capital Offence and sentenced to suffer Death. His Exe cution took place at the same 43 The Carolina Corps received the same provisions and 40 17 July 1791, CO 101/31/77. 41 15 April 1789, CO 101/28/102, Antigua Folios, 348 349. 42 19 March 1785, CO 101/26/29, Grenada F olios 116 117. 43 Edward Mathew to Right Honorable Lord Sydney, 19 March 1785, CO 101/26. Mathew explained that find that even the Cloathing then d elivered was not completely sufficient for their numbers, and I now find myself under the absolute necessity of permitting the Three Captains to write a joint Letter, under my authority, to Messieurs Bishopp and Brummell, to order out cloathing for their e ffective numbers,
184 leadership as white soldiers, but were subject to the same punishment as their white counterparts. Across the Caribbean In the fall of 1790, Governor Mathew decided to return the Carolina Corps to military service; however, he needed to bolster the ranks in order to create a viable troop. Mathew tried to recruit free blacks and mulattos from the islands. However, this was met with serious resis tance from the Antiqua Governor. Rebuffed in the Caribbean, Mathew turned to Canada. Mathew then set his eyes on the blacks Governor Carleton removed to Nova Scotia. Mathew began a recruiting operation in which a few blacks signed up for military service. The ranks grew to support the troop becoming a viable fixture in the Caribbean. As work progressed in Grenada, Mathew wanted to transition the Carolina Negro Corps away from manual labor return the Corps to their original intention as a black military fo order to carry out his plan, Mathew believed he would need to bolster the ranks that had servite blacks into the Negro Corps. Mathew needed more troops. In order to increase the size of his force, he hatched according to the Plan I had formerly proposed: inclosed is the Estimate for Three Suits, Dragoon Artificer, and Pioneer; this is cheaper than the cloathing used by the Infantry, I shall pay the amount, with the freight, but a warrant on t he Deputy Pay Master General here, and I have to request of your Lordship to ir Artificers; and also
185 .of considerable years, Grenada deal with the free mulatto and runaway Negro population. La Grenada was very receptive to the idea of opening military service to free mulattos. After meet ing with great influence, from his character, property, and situation as Captain of a colored impress for the incorporation of free mulattos into the Black Corps. 44 While La Grenada believed the i ncorporation of mulattos was a viable option, Sir Thomas Shirley, the Governor of Antigua vehemently disagreed. Shirley believed that the recruitment of free Caribbean mulattoes was tantamount to fomenting a revolt. The free mulatto population shared too m any commonalities with the enslaved black population. He recommended that the House of Assembly reject the military recruitment of free mulattoes. outburst by changing tactic. Instead, company for the nine Regiments here, and ten for each station of Royal Artillery, might 44 Mathew even went so far as to request an extra medal be attached to his former awards as a result of to be appended to the Ribbon as this would be a very favourab le moment to bestow so honorable a mark
186 be much better raised, and with very little expence, in the Provinces of Nova Scotia and in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were free, Mathew number of free negroes, who had been employed as Pioneers the Army serving in the southern states of America, took ref would be interested in leaving Canada. Mathew believed that the crop cultivation in the northern rocky climes was very difficult for free blacks. His correspondences explained that the now Nova Scotia blacks day laborers, and dissatisfied with the long winters of that climate, to which they have te, Mathew believed he could solve the ongoing military shortage. The recruitment of northern blacks who won their freedom under Sir Guy Mathew argued that the cost of recruiting in Canada w ould be much cheaper than the actual purchase of blacks from the islands, especially when the plantations were not willing to give up its profitable labor source. 45 Mathew explained that the expense would not nearly be as great as buying slaves to supplemen t the regiments. we should gain able bodied men, equal to all the fatigue duties, and already trained to such service, and we could at the same time raise a sufficient numbe r of Recruits to 45 apprehensi ve, it may be found necessary for this purpose to send an officer to Nova Scotia, on the 203.
187 [previously enslaved American blacks] now reside would be eased of an i ncumbrance; the [blacks] would be gratified with an improvement of their situation; and the Islands 46 Thus, Mathew hoped to save the Caribbean islands the money for expensive white troops by bolstering the Black Corps with recruit s from Canada. By 1795, the disparate contingents of American blacks formed the first West India Regiment. The West India Regiment became the first black troop in the Caribbean. The largest American regiment, the Carolina Corps went on to serve at Britain 's capture of Martinique, St. Lucia an d Guadeloupe in 1795. The Corps also served at St. Vincent and Grenada in 1796 when the Carolina Corps formed part of the garrisons in St. nt helped to found the first official black corps stationed in the Caribbean. 47 Once the troops received official status as the West India Regiment, the troop remained as a normal part of the military service. The space had been created for a free black and employed presence on the islands. While the Spanish and to a lesser extent, the French, Empires had instituted ways to deal with free blacks, the British Empire began to widen the gap between free and enslaved. The British response to blacks after the Ame rican Revolution paved the way for those blacks freed after the War of 1812. The War of 1812 was fought, in part, as a response to the lingering anger over stolen slaves. The British, relying upon a tactic that worked so well in the American Revolution, 46 1 March 1791, CO 101/31/43, Page 17. 47 There might even have been a Carolina man or his Grenada born s on at the battle of New Orleans in 1812.
188 be gan to raid for slaves up and down the east coast. At the end of the war, the British yet again shipped these blacks off with the intention of bolstering its military ranks. However, these slaves requested land. They wanted to build a life for themselves. Thus, after much debate, the first free black community on Trinidad was founded by American blacks. The British institutionalized ways for blacks to control their own destinies.
189 Table 6 1. List of Seized and Condemned Slaves Registered i n St. Augustine on July 22, 1779 48 NAMES Philip Venus Amaritta Caesar Sarah Juliet Flora Jack King Quasheba Little King Daphene Tira Toney Philips Moll Titus Charlotte Kinda Jupiter Diana Sally Hannah Linda Jereny Mary Anne Kate Billey Nanny Sue B en Pamela Little Ben Betty Hercules Lizey Jack Phoebe Ryna Flora Carolina Chloe Sam Venus Rose Nancy Abira George Little George Bob Joe Hagar Jack Rachael Jack Jacob Peter Clarinda Nobie Little Peter Judy Abraham July Quash Lilley Abigail Sam Bru tas Amelia Roger Stephen Elk April Phobe Ishmail Rynah Myrtilla Little Ishmail Phoebe Eve Fasinny [?] Arron Febra Rona Tiva Pompey Abigail Jane Sampson Mily Nancy Seabore Polydore A Child Prisse Sylvia Lynda Bince Felix Dye Juda Minah Tim Moll A braham John Phoebe Smart Boss Charles MaryAnne Jack Owen Frank Ansel Lydia 48 Court of Vice Admiralty Papers, TPNA The Papers of the East Florida Claims Commission, 77/26.
190 CHAPTER 7 TREATY OF PARIS AND BEYOND Hacking his way out of a rotting jail cell in Charleston, South Carolina in 1776, Scipio Handley, a free black fisherman accused of spying f or the British, made a heroic escape by jumping into the sea and swimming after a departing ship. American Rebels caught Handley carrying messages between British battalions and condemned him to death as a spy. 1 Interestingly, while most Africans fled from white oppression, Handley chose to go to the sugar producing islands of the Caribbean where slavery dominated the economy and the culture Because he was a free man and a sojourner, his movement was not limited as were those of enslaved blacks and he lat er was able to depart for the American mainland during the siege of Savannah, where he suffered a permanent debilitating injury when he was shot through the leg by a musket ball. 2 Historians can only speculate as : did he have enslave d family members ; did he feel loyalty to the British ; was he paid ; or was his motivation strictly revenge? Whatever his motivations may have been, Handley barely escaped the Handley was a free black whose remarkable story demonstrates the varied Atlantic connections formed by people of African descent out of the uncertainty created by the American Revolution. 3 1 Memorial of Scipio Handley, British National Archives (Hereafter BNA) 13/119/431, 12/47/117 and 12/109/160, London Audit Office at the British National Archives. (Hereafter AO). 2 Handley later made it to London, where he appeared before the Loyalist Claims Commission requesting compensation for his losses, one of only a handful of claims made by blacks. By returning with the Loyalists as a free man, Handley was able to benefit from opportunities not afforded to the majority of the remaining enslaved blacks. Yet even as a free man and the successful recipient of Claims Commission support of £20 the disabled Handley co poor. Cassandra Pybus, Epic Journeys of Freedom: Runaway Slaves of the American Revolution and Their Global Quest for Liberty (Boston: Beacon Press, 2006), 211 12. 3 Ibid.; Walter J. Fraser, Ch arleston! Charleston!: The History of a Southern City (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1989), 152.
191 escapade; however, he only represents one of the thousands of blacks who forcibly mig rated from the American colonies. The majority of mobile blacks, unlike Handley, remained enslaved. Many Americans who either lost slaves or knew friends and neighbors who lost property began a long campaign to recoup their losses. This final chapter illu strate s how the memory of stolen black property and runaway property like Handley, loomed large in American imagination. Rising concerns over the loss of slaves became a defining feature of early American foreign relations with the British Empire. The 178 3 Treaty of Paris included an article that dealt with the question about what to do with stolen property. However, Americans believed the British violated the treaty terms. For a decade, the cases languished in court. Finally, in 1794 John Jay traveled to Britain specifically to work out not only a trade agreement but also to broker a deal for the unpaid stolen slave property. Slavery came to play an integral role in the diplomatic relations of the early republic. Jay, an outspoken critic of slavery, broug ht up the issue multiple times with his British counterparts. Uncomfortable pressing for the compensation of stolen slaves, Jay could never secure a compromise on the issue. The inability of Jay and his British co unterparts to make a decision on the issue regarding black property simply prevented the language from entering the treaty. In 1799, a commission formed to deal with the unresolved black issue. The new commission still could not reach an agreement on the article regarding the repayment for property stolen in the evacuation. The commission dissolved in 1802. When the War of 1812 broke out, the British attacked United States soil. D uring the war of 1812, the
192 British systematically attempted to lure blacks aw ay from American shores with promises of freedom. Learning from the previous engagement, the British adjusted their official military strategy to include the recruitment of American slaves. In so doing, the animosity between the US a nd the British smoldere d well into the mid 1830s, illustrating that while the war came to a conclusion, the battle to control black lives raged on. Treaty of Paris The 1783 Treaty of Paris was important for many reasons; the document sparked the largest migration from the Amer ican shore, it was the first recognition of the free and property specifically blacks. The treaty included the most important issues to the United States at the time of its creation. The right to own property and slaves were a key foundation and one which warranted a lengthy description in the treaty that concluded the American Revolution. The seventh article of the peace treaty specified that the British would not rem ove property during the evacuation and laid out the way in which both parties would deal with the issue of stolen property. It stated specifically the British could not carry the illegality of stealing American blacks, the Treaty provided the legal basis for which American citizens could begin a process to reclaim stolen goods or people. However, British and American military officials disagreed as to ramifications of the tre aty. Sir Guy Carleton, the British c ommander who migrated 3,000 blacks to Nova Scotia believed that the slaves who fled to the British were no longer property of American owners. Once the blacks crossed the British lines, Carleton considered them free and therefore not applicable to the rules laid out in the Treaty. Carleton and
193 concerning the setting at Liberty the prisoners, the receiving possession of the posts occupied by the British Troops, and the obtaing. the Delivery of all Negroes & other property of the Inhabitants of these States in the possession of the Forces or subjects of, or adherents to his Britannic Majesty 4 ulation to the contract in explained that the Treaty did indeed require the British to return any black property, however at the Time, Carleton went on to describe how the Both parties tation. If the leaders evacuation in the S outh act? As communication grew erratic and the evacuations more chaotic, British officers individually decided how to deal with blacks. Tho se the treaty. The majority of blacks in the S outh did not enjoy the same luck. After the British evacuated, resentment grew as Americans clamored for lost property compensation. 4 George Washington, The Writings of George Washington (New York: G. P. Putnam's sons, 1732 1799) 241.
194 A few years later, one of the original Treaty of Paris authors, John Adams, became the first American minister to the British court. In 1785, Adams was charged with negotiating all violations of the Treaty of Paris, including the slave issue. A war with the Dutch interrupted the diplomatic mission for more than a decade. On April 16, 1794, Chief Justice Jay accepted the lead diplomatic position to resolve these outstanding of the questions which had recently sprung up by reason of the war in Europe, but also of all infractions 5 Even though Jay disagreed with slaveholders, he was tasked with finding a diplomatic solution to the wrongs committed twenty y ears before. Jay and his British counterpart British Foreign Minister William Wyndham began negotiations under the specter of an impending war with Napoleon and the French Empire. On May 12, Jay set sail from New York and landed in Falmouth on June 8. B y initially broken. All blacks who fled to the British lines were considered British property. Military officials boarded many of these previously enslaved blacks. The Treaty of Paris outlined an understanding that the British e mpire would pay Americans for their loss of slaves. However, the British justified the removal and nonpayment of such property b y arguing that blacks who wandered into British camps were British property. Therefore, the British should not repay Americans for British property, as the human property was obviously British. Jay explained that neither party could reach a n agreement and it was 5 R. Ream Rankin, The Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation between Great Britain and the United States, 1794 (Berkeley: The University Press, 1908), 278.
195 slavery 6 Therefore, Jay made a decision to mention slavery in the Treaty, but to include wording that set up a Commission to deal with the issue in the future. While contain multiple articles outlining the creation of a commission to deal with the Treaty declared full and complete compensation for the same will be made by the went on to explain that there will be 5 Commissioners appointed: They shall receive testimony, books, papers and evidence in the same latitude, and exercise the like discretion and powers respecting that subject; and shall decide the claims in question according to the merits of the several cases, and to justice, equity and the laws of nations. Only 3 of the 5 Commissioners were needed to made a decision. The final decisions of Britannic Majesty underta Two boards of commissioners were established to carry these articles into effect. Each consisted of two British and two American commissioners with a fifth appointed by the other four. In 1799, the Council of 12 was deadlocked on many of these article 6 claims and so the British government, as a counter measure, suspended its proceedings under the seventh article. In 1802, the two countries signed a new convention for the mutual payment of claim s. The board constituted under the seventh 6 Rankin, The treaty of Amity 98.
196 article of the treaty of 1794 resumed its work and the American government undertook to pay the sum of £600,000 in satisfaction of the money they might otherwise have been liable to pay under the terms of the sixt h article. To deal with claims by British merchants and Americans who had remained loyal to the Crown, three commissioners were appointed in Britain under the Distribution of Certain Monies Act 1803. Two of these commissioners had previously represented G reat Britain on the former board established for this purpose under the 1794 treaty, while the third had sat on that board as its fifth member. Commissioners considered claims amounting to nearly £5 million of which £1,420,000 were paid. Successful claiman ts received dividends pro rata from the money made available by the American government, which, with interest, amounted to £659,493. The commission made its final adjudication on claims in 1811 and presented its last report to the Treasury in June 1812 jus t as the first shots of the 1812 war began. War of 1812 The War of 1812 was an outgrowth of the Napolenoic Wars. T he w ar officially began on June 18, 1812. The British learned from the previous war that if it offered freedom, blacks would escape to the Br itish lines causing unrest and panic on inland plantations. Governor and Commander in Chief of Guadalupe, Alexander Cochrane accepted a position in 1813 as the commander of the Northern American Station. Cochrane commanded the North American front. As a pr evious Governor of a British Caribbean colony, he had experience with not only Loyalists, but also the integral nature and dependence colonies had upon slavery. Cochrane approached the conflict w intended to capitalize on this knowledge and wrote a proclam ation that would have lasting repercussions in the African American community.
197 The proclamation he wrote in 1812 was very different from the hasty de claration Dunmore made in 1775. The Dunmore Proclamation offered freedom only to able bodied males who des erted to help fight the British. Moreover, t he Dunmore Proclamation was a rogue document unsanctioned by his superiors. The Phillipsburg Proclamation , attempted to align British policy towards blacks. The Phill ipsburg expanded the previous proclamation to include all American slaves even those who did not choose to fight. The Cochrane proclamation illustrates a marked shift in British wartime policy. On April 2, 1814, Cochrane issued a proclamation that not on ly offered freedom to all blacks men and women who crossed the British lines before he arrived on the American shore but also provided a relocation plan. The proclamation was circulated by word of mouth and was printed in the Niles Weekly Register ni ne days after Cochrane issued the proclamation. The proclamation stated: WHEREAS it has been represented to me, that many persons resident in the United States, have expressed a desire to withdraw therefrom, with a ce, or of being received as free notice, That all those who may be disposed to emigrate from the UNITED or ve ssels of war, or at the military posts that may be established upon or near the coast of the UNITED STATES, when they will have their choice FREE settlers, to the British possess ions in North America or the West Indies, where they will meet with due encouragement. 7 7 Niles Weekly register IV, No.15, 11 June, 1814, p. 242.
198 Cochrane planned the proclamation and its intended disruptive influence from Bermuda. His action illustrate d a shift in official British policy. Cochrane occupied th e plantation of Dungeness for the duration of the war to lure enslaved blacks to Cumberland Island, Georgia. Freedom was not the only enticement. The British increased the stakes for blacks to pursue freedom. This proclamation stipulated that blacks could choose one of two careers. They could join either the military forces (presumably the Negro Corps already stationed in the British Caribbean) or settle in the Caribbean. Within 30 years, the British not only accepted and institutionalized the idea of freei ng slaves of an enemy, but also provided an extra step to offer transportation and a choice of occupations. Once Cochrane wrote the proclamation, he set sail to America, landing in Virginia. His arrival began a series of raids and counter raids against plantations beginning in Virginia and moving through the south. The cycle of raids increased as British began to arm previously enslaved blacks. The Washington Monitor hundred arm in order to march into Florida. As a unit, the multiracial group moved into Florida are enemies in that nation or in Florida are, and Cochrane launched a series of raids and counter raids, the same tactic used in the American Revolution, which upended the social order and plagued Virginia until his departure. Just after his arrival, Americans retaliated sending 1200 soldiers to the
199 Potomac where they caused a lot of damage. The American force landed and attacked the windows and doors one black escaped the raiding party. One black, left at Mrs. Thompsons, explained to ece believed that the a few moments before the British came up, and that it was impossible it could have been poisoned of this the admiral seems to have been perf Cockburn inflicted more destruction on the countryside as he continued to gather blacks. He returned to his ship the Kinsale Cockburn received orders to move south into Georgia in order to set up a blockade along the eastern seaboard. Cockburn sailed south along the coast until he caught sight of a mansion built in a strategic position. The Dungeness mansion was the tallest structure on Cumberland Island three stories constructed from a Tabby seash ell material. Sailors had long used the home as a solid navigational marker since it was constructed before the American Revolution. George Cockburn landed on Cumberland Island and set up his headquarters at the Dungeness mansion. Cockburn
200 declared the isl paddled 23 miles in a wooden canoe to reach the island. In all, approximately 1,500 The British invaded America for some very specific reasons Negroes and t obacco. An American captain, Joshua Barney stationed in the flotilla service, wrote to the Secretary of the Navy about a British deserter. The deserter, Danish by birth, left the frigate Severn when the British Negroes, with some f s landed, The Dane went on in detail, describing how the officers i n the countryside and then waited for 8 More than just healthy, military age men fled to the British women and children were also specifically mentioned i n the proclamation and some took advantage of the opportunity. Generally, women clustered around the provisions and the encampments. gathered. These dependents were 8 Captain Joshua Barney, Flotilla Serv ice, to Secretary of the Navy Jones US Cutter Scorpion off Nottingham July 24 th 1814. in W. S. Dudley and M. J. Crawford, The Naval War of 1812: a Documentary History (Washington: Naval Historical Center, 1985). 148.
201 completely independent of the Garrison. 9 As w omen and children fled to the British for freedom and protection, Americans demanded their return. In one incident, two American commissioners demanded the return of their runawa y enslaved property, both men and women who ran away. The Commissioners T he British official however, refused, stating that he ha husbands, bu t those black men who fought for the British were not considered property. The British official refused to give any person in the British camp to the Americans. Not Sh person to the Americans. Instead, he offered to write to Mr. Baker for his opinion on the n giving 10 Treaty of Ghent Just as the American Revolution ended with the Treaty of Paris, the War of 1812 concluded with the Treaty of Ghent in 1814. Both treaties mentioned runaway slaves and the illegal c onfiscation of property. The Treaty specifically describes how all 9 Captain John Clavell, R.N. to Rear Admiral Sir George Cockburn, R.N 10 W. S. Dudley and M. J. Crawford, M. J. The Naval War of 1812: A Documentary History (Washington: Naval Historical Center, Dept. of Navy, 1985), 34 9.
202 that: There shall be a firm and universal Peace between His Britannic Majesty and the United States, and between their respective Countries, Territories, Cities, Towns, and People of every degree without exception of places or persons. All hostilities by both sea and land shall cease as soon as both parties as hereinafter mentioned shall have ratified thi s Treaty. All territory, the proper authorities a nd persons to whom they respectively belong. Cockburn gave orders to not leave a single black behind. In a letter, he gives orders to Cockburn references the treaty, s thereon Single Negro be left, excep t by his own request, if he joined you prior to the Ratification of the Treaty which took place at 11PM of the 17 th gave such an order knowing that it would be virtually impossible to prove the exact time and date of enlis tment. He assumed any black would choose to lie in order to depart with the British. The story that opened this dissertation described the desperat ely sick and ailing black recruits acted upon as they clung to the sides of a departing British ship. T he st ory of the men and women of African descent embroiled in the Loyalist exodus from the South, of their struggles to maintain familial and communal ties and to claim, or reclaim, various kinds of freedom, reminds us of the sheer number and diversity and numb ers of Black Atlantic experiences. Indeed, these particular stories raise much broader issues
203 relating to how power, agency, and mobility operated during the Revolutionary Era Moncrief and other white Loyalists traveled around the Atlantic World searching for personal advancement and economic opportunity. Blacks also moved around the Atlantic, but in very different circumstances and for very different purposes As we have seen, faced with yet another move when the Mosquito Coast was evacuated a few years a fter their arrival, approximately 350 of Moncrief's enslaved blacks sought refuge in the Spanish backcountry rather than be subjected to another move and possible separation from family and communal ties. In this context, mobility allowed them to exercise a modicum of control over their destinies and personal lives And yet, while "mobility" forced, volunt ary, opportunistic, and planned seems to connect black and white experiences, the term implies a kind of freedom, a degree of volition and power that doe s not reflect historic historical realities: choices to move or not move were made but, especially for blacks, rarely made freely. If mobility, the traversing of traditional boundaries of state and empire, is one of the central themes of Atlantic history, the story of the southern black and white Loyalist migrations after the American Revolution reminds us that Atlantic World mobility worked in many ways and ran in many directions. By 1815, the British changed not only the official attitude towards the rec ruitment of blacks in wartime, but also their treatment afterwards. The blacks who fled to the British in 1815 found their way into the Caribbean, but this time not as slaves. Instead, these blacks moved willingly into the Caribbean as free men and women as black British citizens.
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215 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH After g raduating from the University of Georgia with her B.A. in History and Political Sc ience, Jennifer K. Snyder entered into the doctoral program at the University of Florida in 2004. She received her M.A. i n 2007 and her Ph.D. in 2013. The long and windy road to the completion of her dissertation is dotted with many wonderful experiences w an award winning and innovative design firm, Local Projects. Currently, she is living and working in St. Petersburg for the Florida Humanities Council.