During the American Revolution (1775–1783), the British government offered freedom to slaves who would desert their rebel masters as a way of ruining the American economy. Many Black men and women escaped to the British fleet patrolling the East Coast, or to the British armies invading the colonies from Maine to Georgia. After the final surrender of the British to the Americans, New York City was evacuated by the British Army throughout the summer and fall of 1783. Carried away with them were a vast number of White Loyalists and their families, and over 3,000 Black Loyalists: free, indentured, apprenticed, or still enslaved. More than 2,700 Blacks came to Nova Scotia with the fleet from New York City. Black Loyalists is an attempt to present hard data about the lives of Nova Scotia Black Loyalists before they escaped slavery in early South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, and after they settled in Nova Scotia—to bring back into our awareness the context for some very brave and enterprising men and women who survived the chaos of the American Revolution, people who found a way to pass through the heart, ironically, of a War for Liberty, to liberty and human dignity. Ruth Holmes Whitehead is a renowned Mi'kmaq historian and ethnologist. She has worked with the Nova Scotia Museum for over forty years, first as assistant curator in history, and now as a research associate. She is the author of several books, including Six Mi'kmaq Stories, and The Old Man Told Us. She lives in Halifax. June 4 - 7:30 pm
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