- Joanna Brooks
Born into slavery near Charleston, South Carolina, Boston King followed his parents into labor on the plantation. His father was a native-born African, kidnapped and sold into slavery as a child; his mother was a healer who learned herbal medicine from local American Indians. At the age of sixteen, King was bound as an apprentice to a carpenter, who subjected him to cruel beatings. King fled his master when the British captured the city of Charleston during the American Revolutionary War, and he won his freedom by taking refuge behind British lines.
Many thousands of enslaved African Americans like Boston King gained freedom by joining the Loyalist forces during the Revolutionary War. British colonial and military officials promised freedom to black defectors twice during the war—with the Dunmore Proclamation of November 1775 and the Philipsburg Proclamation of General Henry Clinton in June 1779 in the hope of encouraging ...
A version of this article originally appeared in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619–1895.