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Modern Voices
Betty Wood on blacks leaving the U.S. with the British
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Q: If I am an African American leaving with the British in the North, what do I see as my future? What is my future going to hold for me?
Betty Wood

A: If you were an enslaved person or free African American leaving with the British from a northern port at the end of the war, your future would be a very uncertain one. Your future might depend where you eventually settled: in Canada, perhaps in West Africa, in Britain itself. And it was perhaps by no means clear to an evacuee standing on a boat in New York harbor or in Philadelphia, what exactly lay at the end of the voyage. There were, of course, ideas, fact-fiction about the character of British society, fact-fiction about Canada, fact-fiction about West Africa. But in some ways, perhaps, for many evacuees, the future that awaited them was perhaps as uncertain as that which awaited European migrants as they were poised to emigrate from the Old World to the Americas.
Betty Wood
Professor of History
Oxford University

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