A Loyalist Plantation in Nova Scotia, 1784-1800
Cottreau-Robins, Catherine M. A.
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At the close of the American Revolution thousands of American Loyalists were forced into exile and made their way to British colonies beyond the United States. Most of the Loyalists landed in British North America, particularly the Maritimes. Along with the trauma and losses of the conflict, the Loyalists brought with them a way of doing things, an intense political history, and ideas concerning the imperial structure that framed their everyday lives. This dissertation is a study of the Loyalists. Specifically, it explores a prominent Loyalist and his journey from Massachusetts to Nova Scotia along with family members, servants, and labourers, including enslaved persons. A central objective of the dissertation is to illuminate the story of the enslaved and magnify their place in Nova Scotia’s eighteenth century colonial history narrative. The objective is addressed by adapting a holistic perspective that considers a single geography – the plantation. The holistic perspective, developed through an interdisciplinary methodology, explores the people, places and culture that formed the Loyalist plantation and were informed by it. The picture that emerges is one that puts into place the structure and organization of a Loyalist plantation in the late eighteenth century. This dissertation argues that an interdisciplinary approach is fundamental when exploring the subject of the plantation and its inhabitants in Nova Scotia. Through study of the slaveholder and the comparison of his plantation spaces, the dissertation argues for Loyalist continuity. Such continuity confirmed a slaveholding culture during the mass migration. Finally, this dissertation argues that the Loyalist period can be described as Nova Scotia’s Age of Slavery. The Loyalist migration represents an unprecedented arrival of enslaved persons to the province. Furthermore, the Loyalist migration represents the unprecedented arrival of a political and ideological framework that carried within it perceptions of race and seeds of discrimination that took root.