Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution

TitleRough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsSchama, Simon
Number of Pages445
PublisherBBC Books

Set against the backdrop of the American Revolution and its aftermath, Rough Crossings is the gripping, astonishing epic of the struggle for freedom by tens of thousands of slaves who believed that their future as free men and women was bound up with staying British, not becoming American. In response to a declaration by the last royal governor of Virginia that any rebel-owned slave who escaped and served the King would be emancipated, tens of thousands of slaves escaped from farms, plantations and cities to try to reach the British camp. This mass movement lasted as long as the American Revolutionary War did, and a military strategy originally designed to break the plantations of the American South had unleashed one of the great exoduses in American history. Schama details the odyssey of the escaped blacks through the fires of war and the terror of potential recapture at the war's end, into inhospitable Nova Scotia, where thousands who had served the Crown were betrayed and, in a little-known hegira of the slave epic, sent across the broad, stormy ocean to Sierra Leone.

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