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[223] ordered a fort to be built at the Great Bridge on the
Chap. LV.} 1775. Nov.
side nearest Norfolk.

Encouraged by ‘this most trifling success,’ Dunmore raised the king's flag, and publishing a proclamation which he had signed on the seventh, he established martial law, required every person capable of bearing arms to resort to his standard, under penalty of forfeiture of life and property, and declared freedom to ‘all indented servants, negroes, or others, appertaining to rebels,’ if they would ‘join for the reducing the colony to a proper sense of its duty.’ The effect of this invitation to convicts and slaves to rise against their masters was not limited to their ability to serve in the army: ‘I hope,’ said Dunmore, ‘it will oblige the rebels to disperse to take care of their families and property.’ The men to whose passions he appealed were either criminals, bound to labor in expiation of their misdeeds, or barbarians, some of them freshly imported from Africa, with tropical passions seething in their veins, and frames rendered strong by abundant food and out of door toil; they formed the majority of the population on tide-water, and were distributed among the lonely plantations in clusters around the wives and children of their owners; so that danger lurked in every home. The measure was a very deliberate act which had been reported in advance to the ministry, and had appeared an ‘encouraging’ one to the king; it formed a part of a system which Dunmore had concerted with General Gage and General Howe. He also sent for the small detachment of regulars stationed in Illinois and the northwest; he commissioned Mackee, a deputy superintendent, to raise a regiment

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