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1 The Collision Of Cultures
2 Britain And Its Colonies
3 Colonial Ways Of Life
4 The Imperial Perspective
5 From Empire To Independence
6 The American Revolution
7 Shaping A Federal Union
8 The Federalist Era
9 The Early Republic
10 Nationalism And Sectionalism
11 The Jacksonian Impulse
12 The Dynamics Of Growth
13 An American Renaissance: Religion, Romanticism, And Reform
14 Manifest Destiny
15 The Old South
16 The Crisis Of Union
17 The War Of The Union
18 Reconstruction: North And South
19 New Frontiers: South And West
20 Big Business And Organized Labor
21 The Emergence Of Urban America
22 Gilded-age Politics And Agrarian Revolt
23 An American Empire
24 The Progressive Era
25 America And The Great War
26 The Modern Temper
27 Republican Resurgence And Decline
28 New Deal America
29 From Isolation To Global War
30 The Second World War
31 The Fair Deal And Containment
32 Through The Picture Window: Society And Culture, 19451960
33 Conflict And Deadlock: The Eisenhower Years
34 New Frontiers: Politics And Social Change In The 1960s
35 Rebellion And Reaction In The 1960s And 1970s
36 A Conservative Insurgency
37 Triumph And Tragedy: America At The Turn Of The Century

Washington Returns Slaves to their Owners (October 25, 1781)

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During the American Revolution, the British offered sanctuary and freedom to slaves who escaped and joined their forces. With this order, American General George Washington demanded the return of any slaves that were recaptured, including any that were subsequently put into service in the colonial army. Although African-Americans sought freedom through petitions to the new American government and through direct flight to the British, the new government and its army remained steadfast in their belief that slavery could not be ended while the fate of their new republic hung in the balance. Some revolutionary leaders, including Washington, eventually freed their slaves, but the institution of slavery did not fade away as some of them had hoped. Rather, it thrived in the expanding new nation.

After Orders, Headquarters near York, 25 October 1781.

* * *

It having been represented that many Negroes and Mulattoes the property of Citizens of these States have concealed themselves on board the Ships in the harbor; that some still continue to attach themselves to British Officers and that others have attempted to impose themselves upon the officers of the French and American Armies as Freemen and to make their escapes in that manner, In order to prevent their succeeding in such practices All Officers of the Allied Army and other persons of every denomination concerned are directed not to suffer any such negroes or mulattoes to be retained in their Service but on the contrary to cause them to be delivered to the Guards which will be establish'd for their reception at one of the Redoubts in York and another in Gloucester. Mr. David Ross will have the superintendency and will give passes to enable them to return to their Masters or where that is not practicable will have directions to make other provision for them. Any Negroes or mulattoes who are free upon proving the same will be left to their own disposal. The Gentlemen of the American Army who have made return to the Orderly Office of negroes in their possession agreeably to the Order of the 9th. instant are desired to deliver them to the above mentioned Mr. David Ross this day or tomorrow.

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From George Washington, The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources 1745-1799, vol. 23, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick (Washington, DC: GPO, 1937), pp. 264-65.


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