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The Black Loyalists were slaves in the Thirteen British Colonies (now the United States of America). They fought with the British Army during the American Revolution after they were promised freedom. They endured hardships and discrimination while trying to fight for freedom.
See the fact file below for more information on the Black Loyalists or alternatively, you can download our 25-page Black Loyalists worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The slave trade brought people of African descent to the thirteen British colonies. They became a significant economic booster because of the free labor they provided.
- Portugal was the first country to invade African colonies to capture slaves, but Britain had the largest slave trade industry during the time.
- The oppressors restrained the Africans they captured using an iron ballast block while they were crammed in ships and transported. Many of them died due to overheating, thirst, and violence.
- They would be sold as slaves and, therefore, become a commodity of their owner.
- These people experienced freedom in their communities before the invaders captured them. Some of them resisted the treatment they got, while some just accepted their fate. When an opportunity to be free came through Dunmore Proclamation, thousands of blacks enlisted.
- There were two main forces during the American Revolution – the Patriots and the Loyalists. The Patriots originally came from the thirteen British colonies in North America fighting for independence against Great Britain. The Loyalists, on the other hand, are those who remained loyal to the British Crown.
- When the British needed to increase their rank in 1775, Lord Dunmore released a proclamation that stated that any slaves who escaped from their owners and joined the royal forces would be given freedom. The declaration was not for humanitarian reasons. However, it was considered the first mass emancipation of slaves in America.
- This proclamation angered the slave owners. They declared that they would execute runaway slaves to stop them from joining the British Army. They also spread the rumor that the British Military would sell the slaves to the sugar cane plantation in the West Indies.
BLACK LOYALISTS MILITARY UNITS
- The proclamation resulted in some black regiments in the British Army. Lord Dunmore created his own, calling it the Ethiopian Regiment.
- Eight hundred Black Loyalists in his troop were trained in the fundamentals of marching and shooting. Their first conflict in the Battle of Kemp’s Landing was successful.
- Overconfident, Dunmore underestimated the Patriots’ number in the Battle of Great Bridge. The Blacks mounted onto the ships of the British Fleet, with Dunmore intending to train them more. However, the cramped conditions resulted in a smallpox outbreak that led to the death of 500 soldiers.
- The British Army also created a Black Loyalists regiment that would do other necessities and not engage in combat.
- They were asked to dig trenches, build roads, and do other manual labor, such as cleaning the streets or attending to scavengers.
- They were called the Black Company of Pioneers. Sometimes, they would do these errands while a battle was ongoing.
- There was also a Black Loyalists military unit called the Black Brigade.
- They were considered to be the most feared Loyalists in New Jersey. Colonel Tye led the unit in raids against the Patriots in Monmouth County and defended the British army in New York.
THE PROMISE OF FREEDOM
- The Patriots ended up being victorious in the American Revolution. It was clear that the Loyalists should evacuate, as staying would only invite retaliation against them. This fear was much more significant to the former slaves who rebelled against the Patriots.
- As stipulated in the Treaty of Paris, the British would evacuate “without carrying away any Negroes or other property of the American Inhabitants”. Many Americans tried to recapture their former slaves, even those born free, and sold them to slavery.
- The British Military made a stand to keep the promises they made. They sent the Black Loyalists to Nova Scotia and other parts of Canada, and some ended up in London.
- The Black Loyalists were full of hope and, at the same time, apprehension. Their fate was now dependent on the fulfillment of the promises given to them. They were free, but the uncertainty of what was next and what promises would be fulfilled by the British army made their freedom bittersweet.
- Their fears turned out to be well-founded, as they had to wait for years before the first black people received their promised land. However, since the Whites were the priority to acquire land, the Black Loyalists were given land that was not suitable for farming. For other Black Loyalists, the promise was never fulfilled.
- They also had to start from scratch when it came to building their home. Some of them dug holes to protect themselves from the cold. Among 30,000 refugees, which also included White Loyalists, they were always the last to receive their rations of necessities.
- As they evacuated with the White Loyalists, the Blacks could not escape how the color of their skin had branded them. The Whites never treated the Blacks as their equals. They did not have the right to vote and have a fair trial in front of a jury. They were discriminated against in social gatherings and had become subject to arbitrary judgments.
- They received much less pay, even with equal skills as the Whites. Despite the exploitation, the Blacks treated it as an advantage, as their services were more in demand than the Whites because they offered cheaper labor.
- Many Black Loyalists became so desperate that they sold themselves into temporary slavery. However, because most of them were illiterate, the Whites tricked them into signing a contract that was longer than the period they agreed to or they did not receive any wages at all.
- The Black Loyalists turned to religion during these trying times. They had their own kind of Christianity even before they fled their oppressors. They were free to make their own rules about their faith and decide their affairs as free people.
SIERRA LEONE AND BIRCHTOWN
- The Blacks gave up hope of better treatment and the fulfillment of what was promised to them.
- In 1791, the landless Blacks in Annapolis and Digby sent Thomas Peters of the Black Pioneers to London to air their grievances.
- He encountered a businessman named Granville Sharp, owner of the Sierra Leone Company. Sharp created a homeland for the poor Blacks in London.
- Before Peters met Sharp, there was already an active campaign led by Thomas Clarkson to end the slave trade in the British Empire.
- There were also plans for the Blacks in London to resettle in Africa. They chose Sierra Leone, as suggested by Henry Smeathman, a plant collector and entomologist who had visited the country.
- Sharp took this decision as an opportunity for the poor Blacks to start over and make a model society. In 1787, he funded the ships and transported 411 people to Africa. They arrived in Sierra Leone after five months.
- Thomas Peters became instrumental in bringing the Blacks from Nova Scotia to Africa and established the Freetown, Sierra Leone. On the other hand, Sharp entrusted John Clarkson to bring the news of relocation to Nova Scotia and persuaded the free Blacks to leave to come to Sierra Leone.
- In 1792, 1,196 Black Loyalists left Halifax for Sierra Leone. The journey was not an easy one, as it involved disease, overcrowding, and death.
- Once they arrived, the settlers still had much to endure. There were conflicts with land distribution and corruption. The promises of a better life in Sierra Leone were not met, and the Black Loyalists who chose to settle there endured another period of hardships and disappointments.
- Those who remained with the Whites persevered. In Shelburne and Birchtown, Whites and Blacks continued to have conflicts. To address this, Lieutenant Governor John Parr authorized an educated Black Loyalist named Thomas Brownspriggs, also known as Chief of the Blacks, to establish a settlement for his people in Guysborough County.
- Under his direction, each family received 40 acres of land, and a settlement was founded in Tracadie, which they named Birchtown. They slowly established small farms and became fishermen, which helped the community survive.
Black Loyalists Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Black Loyalists across 25 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Black Loyalists worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Black Loyalists which were slaves in the Thirteen British Colonies (now the United States of America). They fought with the British Army during the American Revolution after they were promised freedom. They endured hardships and discrimination while trying to fight for freedom.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Black Loyalists Facts
- The Freedom Team
- The Notable Blacks
- Choosing Your Fate
- The Journey to Freedom
- The Loyalists’ Interview
- During the War
- The Loyalists’ Fate
- Anti-Slavery Campaign
- The Loyalists’ Grievances
- The Kneeling Slave
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Link will appear as Black Loyalists Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, December 3, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.