The Revolutionary War Of Independence

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By the War of Independence, slavery was deeply rooted in the American colonies. However, the Revolution provided African American slaves with several opportunities to obtain their freedom, including through military service in the British and American armed forces. From the war’s outset, both American and British government officials as well as military officers contemplated how they could use African American slaves to further their war efforts. This paper uses a case study approach to explore two instances in the Revolutionary War of slaves gaining freedom in exchange military service. The two cases examined are Lord Dunmore’s Ethiopian Regiment and John Laurens’ proposal to emancipate slaves in the Deep South. Exploring these plans offers insight into how certain British and American leaders viewed slaves and slavery in the context of the Revolutionary War. Each plan was implemented at different times for different reasons. A chief reason in both cases was a shortage of manpower, but not the only reason. For example, Lord Dunmore needed manpower but also hoped to use armed ex-slaves to scare Virginians into submission. John Laurens, on the other hand, had serious moral reservations about slavery and was fueled not only by a shortage of manpower and the deteriorating military situation in the South, but also by his idealistic opposition to slavery.
The argument of this paper is threefold. First, I show the growing, but ultimately narrow scope of antislavery thought in the
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