This document is a pass to Nova Scotia for an African American man who enlisted with the British forces during the American Revolutionary War. The Revolution was a time of hope for many African Americans as talk of liberty for all held out the possibility of freedom. This pass stands out, however, as an exception to the general experience of African Americans in the conflict.

Among the African Americans who reported to British lines to enlist and seek protection, many died of disease or in battle. The British typically did not help those who survived to achieve their promised freedom and sometimes actively returned them to slavery. African Americans in the Continental ranks comprised both free blacks from the North and slaves sent to fight in their master’s place as surrogates and generally suffered a similar fate.

Source: “Certificate of Freedom, c. 1783,” still image, April 21, 1783, Remembering Black Loyalists, Virtual Museum of Canada, accessed November 19, 2018.


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