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Abstract

This paper provides an account of the experiences of Black Loyalists in Nova Scotia, London, and Sierra Leone after the American Revolution. Tens of thousands of North American slaves fled to the ranks of the British army when they were promised freedom in return for service. When the British lost the war, they began the evacuation of both White and Black Loyalists out of the colonies. Black Loyalists were sent primarily to Nova Scotia and England and, to a lesser extent, the Bahamas and West Indies. Yet the Black Loyalists were not content with freedom alone; they actively fought for equality and against discrimination in their new countries. Black Loyalists thus took charge of their own emancipation by fighting for the British and continuing to fight for equality even after their exodus from the colonies. The results of the Black Loyalist exodus were mixed, as shown by letters from the Sierra Leone colonists themselves. Yet the experience of the Black Loyalists is significant because this massive migration of free Blacks had international implications, the founding of the Sierra Leone colony being one example. This narrative also brings into question the concept of the Revolution as a national struggle for independence, in addition to revealing the complexity of Loyalist ideology.

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