Liberty or Death: The Surprising Story of Runaway Slaves who Sided with the British During the American Revolution

Liberty or Death: The Surprising Story of Runaway Slaves who Sided with the British During the American Revolution

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by Margaret Whitman Blair

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It was the War for Independence, but fighting for your freedom meant something different depending on who you asked… See more details below

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It was the War for Independence, but fighting for your freedom meant something different depending on who you asked…

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Bobbie Lowe
Runaway slaves who sided with the British during the American Revolution are featured in this title in which. Lord Dunmore, royal governor of Virginia, issues a proclamation in 1775 offering freedom to any slaves who leave their masters to fight for the British during the American Revolution. Within two weeks, 300 runaways sign up and that number grows to more than 20,000 men, women, and children. It is a true-life, deeply moving story about the history of the country, its mistakes, and its leaders. It also shows the reader truth, justice, and sometimes the harsh reality of bad endings that people of the nation had to suffer. The graphics and pictures really capture the eye and make this book a page-turner. Quotes, tidbits of information about battles, important documents, slaves, and leaders spread over the pages in smaller text boxes to accompany the main text. Especially helpful are the time line, resource guide, index, and a list of sources at the back of the book, giving students a great extension to their reading and help if they are researching or looking for more information. Reviewer: Bobbie Lowe
VOYA - Juli Zimmerman
Little information is available on the role of African Americans and their contribution to the Revolutionary War. This historical piece adds a much-needed dimension to the role of African Americans during this time period. Promised freedom and land in exchange for serving with the British, slaves risked their lives in hopes of finding a better life after the war's end. Neglect, deceit, disease, and the continued power struggle by whites led the surviving slaves to the barren land of Nova Scotia. This piece of literature helps give voice to the suffering and struggle many African American men, women, and children faced for the promise of freedom. This book will enhance any historical collection for students in middle school. Reviewer: Juli Zimmerman
VOYA - Kristin Andersen
Liberty or Death brings to light the irony of Patrick Henry's famous oration. The patriots who wanted "liberty or death" for themselves were not willing to give their slaves the same consideration for liberty. It tells the story of the African Americans who chose to serve in the British military during the Revolutionary War because the British were willing to offer them their freedom. After the war, these former slaves—who were offered property and money in exchange for their military service—had another battle to fight: the promises made to them at the beginning of the war were not willingly kept. This book follows the former slaves from America to Nova Scotia and finally to Sierra Leone. While it is clear that the British were more forward-thinking about the morality of slavery than were their revolutionary counterparts, it is also clear that they were more interested in winning a war than in making any grand statements about slavery in general. This book deals with an interesting topic that has not been given much coverage. While attractively packaged it would be better if it contained more information. Full-page graphics detract from the narrative flow and make the reader feel like the illustrations are compensating for a lack of informational content. While this is a worthwhile book to add to collections, it will leave readers wanting more detailed information about the subject. Reviewer: Kristin Andersen
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—In 1775, when British loyalist Lord Dunmore of Virginia issued a proclamation promising that escaped slaves who agreed to fight for the British could earn their freedom, hundreds of desperate men, women, and children answered the call. Riveting portrayals of famous battles and harrowing sea adventures, along with stories of slaves' ingenuity, the crucial part they played on both sides of the war, their fight to be compensated as they were promised, and, most importantly, their valiant efforts to seize their freedom highlight this little-known chapter of American history. Historical documentation such as certificates of freedom, emancipation proclamations, and reproductions of 18th-century oil paintings and drawings appear throughout. Personal quotes and anecdotes help to reveal the slaves' resolve and hopefulness and explain the difficult choices they made in regard to which side to ally themselves.—Margaret Auguste, Franklin Middle School, Somerset, NJ

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Product Details

National Geographic Society
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.70(w) x 10.20(h) x 0.50(d)
1160L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 13 Years

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