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The Common CauseCreating Race and Nation in the American Revolution$
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Robert G. Parkinson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469626635

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469626635.001.0001

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“Britain Has Found Means to Unite Us” 1775

“Britain Has Found Means to Unite Us” 1775

(p.98) Chapter 2 “Britain Has Found Means to Unite Us” 1775
The Common Cause

Robert G. Parkinson

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter concerns the first months of the Revolutionary War through the end of 1775. Beginning in the summer, stories of British officials' (royal governors, naval captains, Indian agents) scheming with Indians and enslaved people to aid the crown in quelling the rebellion began to spread over North America. Governors in Virginia and the Carolinas were alleged to have armed, or actually had armed, slaves. This shaped the Revolutionary experience for many people across the South. Rumors of British agents on the northern frontier negotiating for Indian support also began in the summer and fall of 1775. Newspaper printers reported these stories with increasing coverage over the year. The Continental Congress made use of these reports, declaring in their first official proclamations that British plotting with Indians and slaves was a signal reason why colonists must take up arms. This chapter is about stories the patriots sponsored, but it is also about ones they did not tell. That theme is explored through the lack of reportage of the Benjamin Church affair; Church's treasonous communication with the British command did not leave significant traces in colonial newspapers. Patriot leaders tried to keep it quiet, lest they risk losing popular confidence in their trustworthiness.

Keywords:   North Carolina, Virginia, African Americans, slave insurrections, Continental Congress, Benjamin Church

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