actuate his conduct to a degree equal to the
total destruction of Virginia
His strength will increase as a snowball by rolling, and faster, if some expedient cannot be hit upon to convince the slaves and servants of the impotency of his designs.’
The Virginians could plead and did plead that ‘their assemblies had repeatedly attempted to prevent the horrid traffic in slaves, and had been frustrated by the cruelty and covetousness of English merchants, who prevailed on the king to repeal their merciful acts; that the English
encouraged and upheld slavery, while the present masters of negroes in Virginia
pitied their condition, wished in general to make it easy and comfortable, and would willingly not only prevent any more negroes from losing their freedom, but restore it to such as had already unhappily lost it;’ and they foresaw that whatever they themselves might suffer from a rising, the weight of sorrow would fall on the insurgent slaves themselves.
But, in truth, the cry of Dunmore
did not rouse among the Africans a passion for freedom.
To them bondage in Virginia
was not a lower condition of being than their former one; they had no regrets for ancient privileges lost; their memories prompted no demand for political changes; no struggling aspirations of their own had invited Dunmore
's interposition; no memorial of their grievances had preceded his offers.
What might have been accomplished, had he been master of the country, and had used an undisputed possession to embody and train the negroes, cannot be told; but as it was, though he boasted that they flocked to his standard, none combined to join him from a longing for an improved condition or even from ill will to their masters.