Nova Scotia Archives

African Nova Scotians

in the Age of Slavery and Abolition

Establishment of the Negroes in Nova Scotia Appendix 16



C. Campbell to Lord Gleneig; August 25, 1837:

      It will probably be in your Lordship's remembrance that in 1814 a large number of Refugee Slaves were brought to this place from the United States by the orders of Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane.

      They were settled in the neighbourhood of Halifax, and for the first two years received rations from Government; but they have since been in a great measure dependent on the charity of the Inhabitants of this Town and the County of the Provincial Legislature.

      It was soon found that this climate was ill adapted for them, and that they never could prosper here,—the lots on which they were placed being of very small dimensions, and miserably sterile. His Majesty's Government, therefore, benevolently offered in 1820 to convey them to Trinidad, to which Island they had been invited by the Governor, Sir Ralph Woodford; but of this offer only 80 or 90 chose to avail themselves. It was hoped that, on hearing of the kind reception which these met with at Trinidad, the rest would be disposed to follow, and many did in fact express such an inclination at first;—but on the arrival of a Transport with orders to take them there, they one and all refused to go, influenced, it is thought, by the absurd apprehension, which it was not found possible to remove, that it was intended to return them to their old masters, or to make them Slaves again in the West Indies.

      The same offer has at different periods, and since the passing of the Emancipation Act, been renewed,—but wretched as their condition is and must, I apprehend, continue to be here, has always been resolutely rejected. Here, they are determined to remain: nor will they consent as I have proposed, to be distributed in detachments, in different parts of the Province, where good land might be provided for them, and where, with the assistance of the wages which they might occasionally obtain as Laborers, they, with industry, might earn a comfortable livelihood. But about 100 or 120 of the 250 families, of which this population consists are willing to proceed in a body to some other part of the Province.

      These poor people being in the early part of last Winter in a more destitute condition than usual, I took occasion to bring their unhappy case under the consideration of the Council and Assembly, in a message, of which I inclose a copy; and a Committee of the House having in consequence visited the several Black Settlements the enclosed resolution was subsequently presented to me.

      As they persist in their refusal to remove, except in a large body, I required the Surveyor General to point out the most eligible site for the location of about 100 families and to furnish an estimate of the expense of laying out Lots for them. In the letter from him, which I have the honor to transmit, that expense is reckoned at about £100; but, with the assistance which each family will require towards building a hut, and for its support for the few first months, the whole charge incident to their removal will probably amount to about £500 or £600.

      These refugees have already occasioned so much expense to the Province, (into which they were introduced as Paupers, and against the desire of the Inhabitants), that the Assembly will undoubtedly decline to advance the sum required for the purpose. Without assistance, therefore, from His Majesty's Government, or some other source, these unhappy people must continue to remain in their present pitiable condition. I am induced, therefore, to express a hope that, as H.M. Government have already, on more than one occasion, expressed their readiness to defray the expense of conveying them to and settling them in another Colony they will not now be indisposed to extend their bounty in another shape and bear the charge of transferring them from the barren lands on which they are now living to a better part of the Country, where the fruitful Soil would stimulate them to those industrious habits which have been discouraged by the unproductive nature of the land on which they are now settled.

      Should Your Lordship approve, as I earnestly trust you will, of lands being allotted for them in the situation specified by the Surveyor General, or elsewhere, as may be deemed expedient, and place a sum of money at my disposal for this object, it shall be my care to appoint a competent Committee of Gentlemen to make the necessary arrangements for their removal and location, with the strictest economy.

transcribed by Nova Scotia Archives staff 2004

Date: Publication No. 8, Halifax, N.S., The Public Archives of Nova Scotia, 1948

Author: Prepared by C.B. Fergusson, Assistant Archivist under the direction of D.C. Harvey, Archivist

Reference no.: Commissioner of Public Records  Nova Scotia Archives  RG 1 vol. 115, pp. 56-57 (microfilm no. 15263)