Jun 21, 2015 - Emancipation    No Comments

Proclamations to Incite Slave Revolt

Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation of 1863 to incite race war was patterned after Lord Dunmore’s of November, 1775, and Vice Admiral Cochrane’s of April, 1814. In Lincoln’s case, the edict freed no slaves in territory under Northern military control and assumed he was in a position of authority in States which had left the old Union.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org


Proclamations to Incite Slave Revolt

“War with Great Britain brought unexpected trouble to the planters of coastal Georgia, many of whom had strong family and commercial ties to the British Empire. No doubt [the planters’] blood boiled when [they] read the April 2, 1814 proclamation of Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, who commanded “His Majesty’s Ships upon the North American Station.”

The admiral promised that unhappy settlers, meaning the slaves of the Southern States, would be welcome aboard British vessels, freed from bondage, and sent to British possessions in North America and the West Indies, “where they will meet with all due encouragement.”

Pierce Butler was reminded of the similar pronouncement issued by the Earl of Dunmore [Royal Governor of Virginia] during the Revolution. In his mind it was, once again, a dangerous emancipation proclamation that might lead to violent insurrection . . . Admiral Cochrane’s proclamation was much more realistic than Lord Dunmore’s. The Revolution had altered the British position in that the loss of the American colonies removed six hundred thousand slaves from the empire. In 1814, it was not Great Britain who was the greatest slaveholding nation in the world. With slavery no longer the economic force it had been, abolitionists came to the forefront in England and were better able to argue their cause.

The pleasant quiet [along the Georgia coast] ended abruptly on January 10, 1815, when an expeditionary force of Royal Colonial Marines landed on Cumberland, the southernmost of Georgia’s barrier islands. Unaware that Andrew Jackson had repulsed the British at New Orleans . . . . [Admiral] Sir George Cockburn . . . directed the landing in Georgia. It was he who put the torch to public buildings in Washington . . . and who had conducted the vindictive raids on Chesapeake Bay. Following the ruthless burning of Washington, a citizen of Pughstown, Virginia, offered a reward of five hundred dollars for each of Admiral Cockburn’s ears – “on delivery.”

(Major Butler’s Legacy, Five Generations of a Slaveholding Family, Malcolm Bell, Jr., UGA Press, 1987, pp. 170-171)

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