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Still Landless go backgo upgo to next Peters in London

By the 1790's the blacks had given up hope of fair treatment in Nova Scotia. They were ready to leave for a new promised land, and soon their opportunity arrived in the form of the Sierra Leone Company, eager to recruit Black Christians for their new colony on the west coast of Africa. Intended as a homeland for free blacks, the reality was somewhat less inspiring, but the Black Loyalists decided that an uncertain future was better than certain misery. Those who were free to go overwhelmingly left, including the entire religious community.

Thomas Peters in England

The landless blacks of Annapolis and Digby appointed Thomas Peters of the Black Pioneers to bring their petition of grievances to the powers in England, having given up hope of fair treatment here. Once he arrived there he came into contact with prominent English abolitionists, including the remarkable Granville Sharp.

The Sierra Leone Company

The Sierra Leone was not a new endeavour created to solve the problems of the Black Loyalists. It had been started in 1788 by Granville Sharp to create a homeland for the black poor of London. These were Black Loyalist sailors and some slaves who had been freed by the groundbreaking legal decision ending slavery in England. Their settlement however, had been ill fated from the beginning.

Clarkson's Mission

Sharp entrusted John Clarkson to bring the news of his offer to the Black Loyalists to Nova Scotia. Clarkson traveled and worked tirelessly to spread the word, and brought compassion and charity to the poor of the colony. Those who were free to leave overwhelmingly chose to do so.

Unlikely Opposition

Those who had profited from the exploitation of black workers now feared the consequences of their departure. From Governors to landowners to some leading blacks, many were less than enthusiastic about the proposal. A coalition opposing the Sierra Leone adventure came into existence, spreading rumors and actively resisting their departure.

Passage to Africa

The return voyage to Africa in many ways resembled the trip that had brought them here: long overcrowded, and filled with disease. Many did not survive the crossing.


Once the Black Loyalists arrived in Sierra Leone their trials were only beginning. Their leaders died, the settlement was uncut and unsurveyed, and too many of the promises made to them turned out to be lies. Soon resentment was spreading through the settlers, but they were determined to succeed in their new homeland.

Still Landless go backgo upgo to next Peters in London
Image Credit Jason Buchanan and Tina Elliott
10 years after they first arrived in Nova Scotia, the Black Loyalists were eager to leave.

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Clarkson's Mission to America