Cover image for Liberty or death : the surprising story of runaway slaves who sided with the British during the American Revolution
Title:
Liberty or death : the surprising story of runaway slaves who sided with the British during the American Revolution
ISBN:
9781426305900

9781426305917
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : National Geographic, c2010.
Physical Description:
64 p. : ill. (chiefly col.), col. maps ; 27 cm.
General Note:
Map on lining papers.
Contents:
Liberty to slaves -- And some joined the Patriots -- War and its aftermath -- Nova Scotia and freedom -- Africa: the promised land.
Reading Level:
1160 L Lexile
Summary:
Presentation of the little-known story of the American Revolution told from the perspectives of the African-American slaves who fought on the side of the British Royal Army in exchange for a promise of freedom.
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Summary

Summary

Liberty or Death is the little-known story of the American Revolution told from the perspectives of the African-American slaves who fought on the side of the British Royal Army in exchange for a promise of freedom. Motivated by the 1775 proclamation by Virginia's Royal Governor that any slaves who took up arms on his behalf would be granted their freedom, these men fought bravely for a losing cause. Many of the volunteers succumbed to battle wounds or smallpox, which ran rampant on the British ships on which they were quartered. After the successful Revolution, they emigrated to Canada and, ultimately to West Africa. Liberty or Death is the inspiring story of the forgotten freedom fighters of America's Revolutionary War.


Author Notes

Margaret Whitman Blair is the author of several books for young adults, and is active in the Washington Children's Book Guild. A retired Peace Corps volunteer, she was formerly an international trade and business journalist in Washington D.C. She lives in Rockville, MD.


Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-In 1775, when British loyalist Lord Dunmore of Virginia issued a proclamation promising that escaped slaves who agreed to fight for the British could earn their freedom, hundreds of desperate men, women, and children answered the call. Riveting portrayals of famous battles and harrowing sea adventures, along with stories of slaves' ingenuity, the crucial part they played on both sides of the war, their fight to be compensated as they were promised, and, most importantly, their valiant efforts to seize their freedom highlight this little-known chapter of American history. Historical documentation such as certificates of freedom, emancipation proclamations, and reproductions of 18th-century oil paintings and drawings appear throughout. Personal quotes and anecdotes help to reveal the slaves' resolve and hopefulness and explain the difficult choices they made in regard to which side to ally themselves.-Margaret Auguste, Franklin Middle School, Somerset, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Horn Book Review

During the Revolutionary War, slaves were promised freedom in exchange for fighting with the British. The book examines the truthfulness behind the pledge, in addition to individuals' escapes from slaveholders and their struggles to begin lives anew in Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone after the war. Ample reproductions of period art and a map provide additional detail about the Colonial era. Reading list, timeline, websites. Ind. Copyright 2010 of The Horn Book, Inc. All rights reserved.


Kirkus Review

Not much has been written for young readers about runaway slaves who sided with the British during the American Revolution, so this fine work is a welcome addition to the field. As M.T. Anderson did fictionally for older readers in the second volume of the Octavian Nothing saga (The Kingdom on the Waves, 2008), Blair tells the story of Lord Dunmore's Ethiopian Regiment. Though a slaveholder himself, Lord Dunmore offered freedom to slaves who fought for the British, though the offer only applied to slaves whose masters were in rebellion against the crown. Estimates vary, but at least 15,000 to 20,000 slaves answered Lord Dunmore's call. These black loyalists fought in a separate regiment from white soldiers, while the 5,000 who fled to the patriot side fought in integrated units, a fascinating indication of the complex meanings of freedom in this turbulent time. Clear writing and a lively, if busy, format make this an eminently readable work, and maps, drawings, paintings and sidebars heighten the appeal. The epilogue offers historical perspective and celebrates the determination of the black loyalists to "live and thrive as free men and women." Another solid history from National Geographic. (timeline, resource guide, index, sources) (Nonfiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* In too many American history books for young people, the role of African Americans in the Revolutionary War begins and ends with Crispus Attucks at the Boston Massacre. Blair provides a well-researched account of slaves in Virginia who, beginning in 1775, fled to the British. The royal governor of the colony hoped to put down the rebellion in part by offering freedom to slaves of rebels (but not of loyalists) who would flee their masters and fight for the British side. Foraging, fighting, spying, and working as laborers, they risked their lives for liberty, and many of them died. At the war's end, the British transported some 3,000 former slaves to Nova Scotia, and later sent nearly half of those to a new settlement in Sierra Leone. Though told in a matter-of-fact tone, the story is often heart-wrenching: the slaves, offered freedom for strategic rather than moral reasons, died in great numbers, and those who survived were promised benefits that never fully materialized. Colorful reproductions of period paintings, prints, and documents illustrate the clearly written text. Back matter includes a time line, source notes, and lists of recommended books, places to visit, and Web sites. A fine and singular addition to American history collections .--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2010 Booklist