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Carleton was the Governor of Quebec before the events of the Revolutionary War. Carleton helped pass the Quebec Act, which guaranteed Quebec's freedom of religion and French civil code. This helped win the loyalty of Quebecois to the English, but infuriated many in the southern colonies. Carleton was forced to retreat to Quebec City when Benedict Arnold attacked Montreal, but resisted the attack on Quebec, forcing the Americans to retreat to the south.

In 1782, Sir Guy Carleton was appointed as the commander-in-chief of the British forces to replace Sir Henry Clinton. His mission was to recognize the independence of the 13 colonies. Knowing that those citizens who still wanted to be loyal to the British Crown would need a place to live, Carleton looked to the unsettled land in Nova Scotia. Many Loyalists were interested and decided that they would try to build a British colony at this new location.

Arranging travel for the Loyalists was not easy but became more difficult after the peace agreement between the Americas and the British government was signed. It stated that the British would withdraw all their Armies, Garrisons and Fleets from the United States without carrying away any Negroes or other looted property. Carleton decided that the Blacks who had been granted their freedom previous to the treaty couldn't be considered property of any sort and thus weren't covered by the treaty. The Americans disagreed, but were willing to concede the point when Carleton promised compensation.

Carleton established a board of enquiry to hear disputes about who could claim the freedom offered by the proclamations. These officials also recorded the names and former owners of all freed slaves who were evacuated so that their old masters could be compensated. This record became known as Carleton's Book of Negroes.

In the meantime Brigadier General Birch was issuing certificates of freedom to all Blacks who qualified. These certificates were to allow the free Blacks to travel anywhere they wanted, including Nova Scotia. Many of the Blacks who had these certificates traveled to Nova Scotia along with their white counterparts.

Carleton was appointed again as Governor of Quebec, and he continued to serve for many years until 1796. Carleton died in 1808.

Portrait of Governor Guy Carleton
Guy Carleton, commander of the British North American Forces at the end of the Revolutionary war and chief architect of the Quebec Act.

Story: Exile

Peace Treaty

Chaos in New York

Certificates of Freedom


Carleton's orders regarding Black Loyalists