January 17, 1776


The Virginia Convention, in Richmond, orders the jailing of all African Americans who carried arms in Dunmore’s service.  They are then to be appraised and sent to the West Indies or Bay of Honduras to be sold.

Dunmore’s Proclamation, which is called by some Dunmore’s “Emancipation Proclamation,” was signed on November 7, 1775 by John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore, royal governor of Virginia, and declared martial law and promised freedom of all slaves of American revolutionaries who left their owners and joined the royal forces.  Of all fears that could be offered up to southern Americans, this was the greatest, and many were terrified that a general slave uprising – certainly Murray’s hope and intent – would follow. While a flood of slaves did escape and join the British, the hope of a general slave uprising never transpired, and Murray was ultimately forced out of the colony, taking about three hundred escaped slaves with him.


To take part in one of Philadelphia’s best walking tours, or to join us for a Historical Vacation, contact us at Bow Tie Tours.


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