John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore, royal governor of the British colony of Virginia, signed a proclamation on 7th November 1775 which promised freedom for slaves who left their masters and joined British forces.

In 1779, Sir Henry Clinton issued the Philipsburg Proclamation which freed slaves even if they had not taken up arms on behalf of the British.

It is estimated around 100,000 slaves attempted to reach British lines, although only as few as 3,000 were eventually repatriated to found Sierra Leone in Africa, more slaves found their freedom through these proclamations than any other way until the American Civil War.