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Those who had risked everything for their freedom and equality soon realized that neither would be easily obtained. Many saw blacks as inferior creatures; meant only for the most menial tasks and deserving only of the most insulting wages. Others saw blacks as weak people with few resources or friends, who could easily be exploited. Prejudice took many forms, from unjust laws to low wages to outright violence.

Slavery in Nova Scotia

Although it was not as common as in the southern colonies, slavery was an accepted fact in Nova Scotia, made much more common by the influx of white loyalists and their hundreds of Black slaves. Even those who possessed their own freedom could not escape the constant reminder that their colour was a mark of bondage.

Frolicking and Other Crimes

Blacks could not even expect equal treatment before the law. Denied the right to vote and to be tried by jury, blacks were subject to arbitrary judgments and discriminatory laws against their social gatherings. Re-enslavement and public whipping were standard punishments for any transgression.

Fair Pay?

Poor, without legal rights, and lacking friends, blacks were subject to the crudest exploitation. In most jobs, they received only a quarter of what an equally skilled white man would earn. Of course, this made the blacks very useful to certain elements in society.

Last in Line

In a time of chaos and scarcity, the blacks were always the last to receive what had been promised to all loyalists: food, land, and tools. In a crowd of 30 000 refugees, this often meant that backs received nothing at all beyond basic rations, and sometimes not even that.

The Shelburne Riot

As poor white soldiers were forced out of the labour market by blacks, they blamed those same blacks for their continuing poverty. Their resentment exploded into violence in the summer of 1784, when they rampaged through the streets of Shelburne, beating blacks, tearing down their houses, and forcing them to flee for Birchtown. Even when some civility was returned to Shelburne, some continued to attack the blacks in Birchtown for months afterward.

Annapolis go backgo upgo to next Slaves
Image of a slave Auction early 1800's

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