The Royal Governor
during the American Revolution
. Dunmore is chiefly famous for issuing Lord Dunmore's Proclamation, which offered freedom
to any slave
of a rebel
who managed to escape to British lines and was willing to enlist
in the army.
This policy served three goals at once. It created a ready pool of conscripts, who had been thin on the ground in George Washington and Thomas Jefferson's home state. It motivated landowners to use their men to guard slaves instead of fight the British. And it served as a form of economic warfare against the plantation owners (who were more or less all patriots), by depriving them of their most valuable resource - slaves. It also earned Dunmore the undying hatred of the entire landowning class, as it called into question the very foundation of their wealth.
In this desperate tactic conceived at a desperate moment, the seed of the first mass emancipation in American history was born. Dunmore's proclamation led to the development of the Black Loyalists as a significant force in the Revolutionary War, and eventually to the founding of Sierra Leone, the first significant imperialist colony in Africa.
Dunmore himself died many years later in England.