that a daily pay of seven shillings and six pence be allowed for the service of such slave while actually employed.
A grand patriot Committee of Conference, civil and military, headed by Dr. Franklin
, was convened1
's headquarters before Boston
; and, five days thereafter, voted, on the report of a council of officers, that negroes, “especially such as are slaves,” should no longer be enlisted; and an order was issued2
accordingly; but Washington
, upon full consideration, wrote3
to the President
of Congress that “the free negroes” are reported to to be “very much dissatisfied at being discarded;” and adds:
As it is apprehended that they may seek employ in the Ministerial Army, I have presumed to depart from the resolution respecting them, and have given license for their being enlisted.
If this is disapproved by Congress, I will put a stop to it.
Congress hereupon decided4
That the free negroes, who have served faithfully in the army at Cambridge, may be reenlisted therein; but no others.
Lord Dunmore, Royal Governor of Virginia
, had ere this issued5
a Proclamation of martial law, wherein he called “all persons capable of bearing arms, to report to His Majesty's standard,” on pain of confiscation, forfeiture, &c., as traitors; and proceeded;
And I do hereby further declare all indented servants, negroes or others (appertaining to rebels), free, that are able and willing to bear arms; they joining His Majesty's troops, as soon as may be, for the more speedy reducing this colony to a proper sense of their duty to His Majesty's crown and dignity.
An answer to this Proclamation was made through a Williamsburg journal, wherein the existence of Slavery in these colonies was attributed to British royal policy, and the negroes assured that they were far more likely to acquire personal liberty by adhering to the cause of American and of general freedom; and were forcibly reminded that--
To none, then, is freedom promised, but to such as are able to do Lord Dunmore service.
The aged, the infirm, the women and children, are still to remain the property of their masters — of masters who will be provoked to severity, should part of their slaves desert them.
Lord Dunmore's declaration, therefore, is a cruel declaration to the negroes.
He does not pretend to make it out of any tenderness to them, but solely upon his own account; and, should it meet with success, it leaves by far the greater number at the mercy of an enraged and injured people.
Some of the negroes listened to the voice of the Royal
charmer; who at one time had large expectations of raising Black troops for King George; but he finally explained6
to his Government that a malignant fever, whereof he had already reported the existence,
has carried off an incredible number of our people, especially the Blacks.
Had it not been for this horrid disorder, I am satisfied I should have had 2,000 Blacks; with whom I should have had no doubt of penetrating into the heart of this colony.
Still, negroes were enlisted on both sides; in the North
, more on the side of Independence; while in the South
a larger number fled from plantation Slavery to strike for King George against their “Rebel” masters.
An official return7
of the negroes serving in the army under Washington
's command, soon after the battle of Monmouth
, makes their number 755; and this was prior to any systematic efforts to enlist them, and while their presence in the army was rather tolerated than invited.
, in 1778, authorized a general enlistment of slaves for the patriot army — every one to be free