The Virginia Gazette

Today in the 1770s: November 25

WILLIAMSBURG, November 25, 1775.
Should there be any amongst the Negroes weak enough to believe that Dunmore intends to do them a kindness, and wicked enough to provoke the fury of the Americans against their defenceless fathers and mothers, their wives, their women and children, let them only consider the difficulty of effecting their escape, and what they must expect to suffer if they fall into the hands of the Americans. . . . Can it then be supposed that the Negroes will be better used by the English, who have always encouraged and upheld this slavery, than by their present masters, who pity their condition , who wish, in general, to make it as easy and comfortable as possible, and who would willingly, were it in their power, or were they permitted, not only prevent any more negroes from losing their freedom, but restore it to such as have already unhappily lost it. . . . Be not then, ye Negores, tempted by this proclamation to ruin yourselves.

Virginia Gazette (Dixon & Hunter) November 25, 1775

About this entry:

This excerpt from a longer comment following the publication of Dunmore's Proclamation, was written by an unknown author. On the one hand, he incites fear of capture by Americans to those slaves who choose freedom, and on the other hand gives a rosy portrayal of a slave's life under an American master. Fear of the unknown made many slaves choose what to them was the lesser of two evils, to remain with their masters. The decision was further complicated by the fact that the offer was only available to slaves owned by rebel masters, and in 1775 there were still a large number of Loyalist slaveowners in Virginia.

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