The Forgotten Exodus: 7 Facts About the Black Loyalists and 3,600 Refugee Negroes Escaping American Wars to Canada


The War of 1812

After the War of 1812, former enslaved Blacks fled to Canada and the Caribbean in search for a better life post-slavery. The second war between the British and the young United States of America was waged over tariffs, trade and the conscription of 10,000 American sailors. From 1812-15, this war was a footnote to the much larger Napoleonic Wars of the time.

According to historical records, British vice admiral of the empire’s royal fleet, Sir John Borlase Warren, wanted enslaved Blacks to fight for the Red Coats. To achieve this, Warren promised Black men and their families freedom in exchange for military service.

Immediately, the Royal Navy got word of this and officers began to employ the strategy throughout their forces.


The Voyage to the Great Frozen North and Deep, Deep South

There were an estimated 3,600 former enslaved Africans who came from Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana and Georgia fleeing to the Red Coats’ side.

This large influx of free Black people settled in Nova Scotia, building homes and churches that still stand today. The “Refugee Negroes” also settled in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, and 95 went to the Caribbean island of Trinidad in 1815.

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