The African-American and His Majesty's .
Army in the Age of the American Revolution.
"And I do hereby further declare all indented servants, Negroes, and others, (appertaining to Rebels), free, that are able and willing to bear arms, they joining His Majesty's Troops, as soon as may be, for the more speedily reducing the Colony to a proper sense of their duty, to His majesty's crown and dignity." On November 7th, 1775, Lord Dunmore made his fated proclamation; this utterance changed the course of the American Revolution for the African-American. If the subject is to be justified then a historical context for Dunmore's proclamation must be provided. What was the position of the British army at the end of 1775? Had the rhetoric of American liberty accounted for the African-American? The injustices served out to the African-American between 1775 and 1776 by the white American patriot made the British promise of emancipation both appealing and logical. Lord Dunmore and the British commanders were sensitive to these Negro injustices: the decision to recruit the black bondsmen, therefore, was based on pragmatic and strategic reasoning.
At the end of 1775 His Majesty's army was in a hapless position. From the beginning of the conflict in America the British government was short of able recruits. In January 1775 five regiments of Hanoverians became British mercenaries; three regiments were sent to Gibraltar to release British troops and the remaining two were sent directly to America. If the British hoped to sustain the conflict and subdue the colonies then great reserves of manpower were required. After the battle of Bunker Hill on June 17th, 1775, the British had been forced to evacuate Boston and earlier in the month Lord Dunmore had taken the decisive step of quitting Williamsburg and seeking asylum aboard the vessel Fowey. His Majesty's army was already in a precarious position; it was in grave danger of losing control of the colonies before the year was complete.