The Patriot Film Fact or Fiction: Events
The Continental Congress offered freedom to slaves who served:
While the militia is in Pembroke loading supplies, Occam stares at the posted announcements. When Dan Scott asks him about what they say, Occam answers that he can't read, so Scott offered to read it for him. Scott then reads an announcement stating that any slaves that serve twelves months in the Continental Army will be given their freedom and also paid five shillings per month served.
Congress never extended such an offer. On the contrary, General George Washington during the first few years of the war issued specific orders that slaves not be inducted in the army.
- Some states did extend such offers. In 1774, New York offered freedom to slaves who served in the militia for three years. To add needed men and to counteract successful offers from the British, the Continental Congress did make various suggestions to the colonies to recruit slaves even offering to pay slaveowners off and free the slaves, but these were opposed.
- The Northern colonies readily included free blacks, but the Southern colonies refused.
- Even though General Washington had issued orders that slaves not be inducted, many slaves did serve when their masters were called for duty. Because the number of men were so few, recruiters did not press the issue and allowed the slaves in.
- The British successfully encouraged desertions with their offers of freedom. Before the British evacuated New York City in 1783, they freed all slaves.
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