Counter-revolution in Virginia : patriot response to Dunmore's emancipation proclamation of November 7, 1775
In mid-November, 1775, Lord Dunmore last Royal Governor of Virginia attempted to enlist the support of rebel owned slaves to crush Patriot resistance to Great Britain. This study examines the slaveholders' response to Dunmore's actions. Virginia's slaveholders fought a counter-revolution in order to maintain traditional race relations in the colony. Patriot propaganda portrayed Dunmore as a race traitor, who became symbolically more "black" than white. Slaveholders characterized Dunmore as a rebel, a madman, and a sexual deviant - stereotypes normally given to slaves by their "masters." Since Dunmore threatened to destroy the defining institution of slavery, planters sought to salvage their identities by defending the paternalistic philosophy and racist assumptions upon which slave society was based. Planters overwhelmingly became Patriots to protect slavery.