Uncategorized

Dunmore's Proclamation, Liberty to Slaves

On November 15, 1775, Lord Dunmore, the royal governor of Virginia, issued a proclamation declaring “all indentured Servants, Negroes, or others (appertaining to Rebels) free, that are able and willing to bear Arms, they joining his Majesty’s Troops”. In this Revolutionary City skit at Colonial Williamsburg, Eve, a slave in the household of Mrs. Peyton Randolph, concludes a meeting where she and others discussed the proclamation’s potential impact on them. Eve evidentally took advantage of Lord Dunmore’s proclamation; a document dated January 5, 1776, listed her as “gone over to the enemy”. However, history suggests that she returned to and escaped from, possibly more than once, the Randolph household. There her days were long and exhausting; she laid out Mrs. Randolph’s clothes and helped her dress, conveyed her instructions to the other household servants, fetched items she requested, ran errands in town, warmed her bed with a warming pan, and helped her undress for the night. It’s possible that Eve ended her days in freedom; a February 1782 newspaper ad placed by Mrs. Randolph’s nephew Harrison Randolph offers a reward “FOR apprehending EVE, Negro woman slave, who left York after the surrender … and has since been seen on her way to Hampton”. The date of her death is, like that of her birth, unknown.