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Finding Freedom: London - Portrait of General Sir Henry Clinton
In 1779, British General Sir Henry Clinton’s Philipsburg Proclamation offered protection to any enslaved people owned by American rebels who fled to the British lines in search of freedom. This was broader than Virginia Royal Governor Lord Dunmore's 1775 proclamation, which only applied to enslaved men who joined the British forces to fight for the King.
The Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, D.C.
Finding Freedom: London - Portrait of Brigadier General Benedict Arnold
London served as a trumpeter in the American Legion, a Loyalist force formed by British Brigadier General Benedict Arnold. This portrait by an unknown artist shows Arnold in his British Army uniform. In the fall of 1780, just a few months before London joined the American Legion, Benedict Arnold infamously defected from the Continental Army and joined the British.
Courtesy of Clive Hammond
Finding Freedom: London - “Inspection Roll of Negroes,” Book 1, Page 43
These pages are from a British Army document called the “Inspection Roll of Negroes,” written in 1783. London’s name is recorded on the left side of the first page near the top. The second page records that London was formerly enslaved by Robert Pleasants in Virginia. The “Inspection Roll of Negroes” records the roughly 3,000 formerly enslaved men and women whom the British evacuated from New York City at the end of the Revolutionary War. Most of these people, such as London, settled in Canada with assistance from the British. London is recorded as a trumpeter in the American Legion, a Loyalist military unit. London boarded the ship “Elizabeth” bound for Saint John in New Brunswick, Canada.
National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC
Finding Freedom: London - Troop Return of the American Legion
London arrived in New Brunswick, Canada, in 1783 with fellow members of the American Legion, a Loyalist military unit. This list of troops in the American Legion from 1785 records that London, then called London York, died at some point between 1783 and 1785. Like many other formerly enslaved men and women who resettled in Canada, London may have died due to sickness caused by the harsh living conditions and cold weather. Unfortunately, London died prior to receiving a plot of land in New Brunswick on which he could live as a free man.
Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, RS108 Land Petitions: Original Series