Friday, August 26, 2005

Did Not Know That

Somehow, I knew both ends of this story but never put two and two together. That is, I knew the British had offered freedom to American slaves who deserted into their lines during the American Revolution. It was considered an effective way to undercut the economic base of the rebels. And I knew that they got tens of thousands of them, and took them away to Canada, along with the Loyalists, at the end of the war when they evacuated the new United States.

And I knew that Sierra Leone had been founded by the British as a colony for former slaves. But I thought they were British slaves from the island colonies.

Turns out, according to Simon Schama, the two sets of ex-slaves are one and the same.

At least, I think that's what this article says. It's hard to entirely credit an article with a line like "at the end of the American war of independence in 1776." But then that's almost as bad as the New York Times Sunday Magazine recently describing Liberia, Sierra Leone's equally violent next-door neighbor, as a nation "(f)ounded by freed American slaves," which makes it seem like they did it all on their own initiative.