Black Loyalists

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As the American Revolutionary War drew to an end, those in the U.S. who had supported the British found themselves increasingly under suspicion and pressure by those who had supported the Independence movement. Some loyalists re tarred and feathered and placed on rails as they were carried out of town, some slowly migrated north as events turned against the British, and some followed the British army seeking safety in their presence.

In the summer of 1775 the colony of Virginia was taken over by rebel elements and in order to regain control, the British Governor, Lord Dunmore issued a proclamation which stated that any slave or indentured person that was willing to take up arms with the British against the rebels, would be given their freedom. The result was that over 2000 slaves flocked to the British bases and joined up.

There were approximately 100,000 loyalists that fled the U.S. and settled in Canada. About 30,000 of these migrated to the Maritimes, and most of the rest settled in what was to become Upper Canada with a few choosing Lower Canada as their new home. They brought with them a commitment to the British Crown and an opposition to the revolutionary republican politics of the break away colonies. This created an even stronger royalists streak in the Canadian character then had existed before.

The loyalists however were not just Englishmen still supporting the British Empire. Many of them were of a variety of religious, ethnic and national background who had a vested interest or believe in the status quo on England. Many of these were black slaves or freemen who had been promised freedom or additional rights once order was re-established by the British. Once the war was accepted as a lots cause by the British and it's troops, many of these black soldiers, supporters and slaves of other loyalists prudently decided to migrate north to the Canada's and the Maritimes. The black migrants settled mainly in Shelbourne, Nova Scotia, the along the Saint John River Valley in New Brunswick and some smaller settlements along the St Lawrence river. In some cases they were accepted into the societies in which they arrived but in many circumstances they were not treated as full citizens and not extended all the rights and privileges that others valued.

Some of these communities are still thriving and strong in the Maritimes after 230 years of arriving in Canada.

 


Source:
Reference: www.canadahistory.com/sections/eras/eras.html