African Americans and the War of 1812
"...thanks be to God I arrived in this safe place..."


During the War of 1812, many of Maryland's enslaved people attempted to escape to British ships. Some of the early fugitives were captured and placed back into bondage, while others made it aboard, to face an uncertain future. To encourage further unrest, on April 2, 1814, Admiral Alexander Cochrane of the British forces issued a proclamation offering immediate emancipation to any person willing to take up arms and join the colonial marines. The proclamation also included the families of any person who joined the colonial marines and settled in British Colonies.

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proclamation

Proclamation by The Honorable
Sir Alexander Cochrane, April 2, 1814

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Upwards of 700 slaves from Maryland took this opportunity to seek freedom, including a group of 21 slaves that left from Annapolis. Twenty of those enslaved people consisting of men, women, and children fled from Henrietta M. Ogle, the widow of Governor Benjamin Ogle. Following the war, Maryland slave owners submitted claims for compensation for the loss of their slaves and other property. The claim for the 20 slaves belonging to Mrs. Ogle, deceased by the end of the war, was submitted by her son Benjamin Ogle.

Gabriel Hall. The only known photograph of an African American refugee from Maryland who settled in Halifax following the War of 1812. Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management.

Gabriel