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During the war of 1812 the British gained the service of American slaves through runaways who were sheltered and freed. These Black Americans used this opportunity to gain their freedom and aided the cause of the British by spying, scouting and other aid that benefitted the British war effort. These were not un American activities but more activities to gain their freedom and to be treated as people. The British actively recruited runaway slaves as guides for their troops and enlisting some 400 into a special squadron called the Colonial marines. These troops helped the British strike into Virginia’s interior and eventually, to bring the war to the nation’s capital. Once the runaways showed their  value to the war effort, the slave got commitments to free their families who were then put aboard British ships for safety. This of course was not met well by the Virginians as their economy was based on slave labor and were always deathly afraid of a “slave revolt”. The slaves were considered the internal enemy of the Virginia slave owners so this mass flight was devastating. The slave owners were so blinded by their own fears that they never realized that the slaves only wanted be treated as people on equal footing with  other Americans. There was no evil intent beyond freedom and equality. Apparently this struggle is still going on. This post is excerpted from a book by Alan Taylor, the book is: The Internal Enemy, published by Norton.

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