Marine History Collection - Painting – Black Loyalists Arriving at Sierra Leone

Eyewitness to History

This iconic image captures a pivotal moment in human history – the return to Africa of Black Loyalists freed from North American slavery. They had earned their freedom in exchange for fighting on the side of those loyal to the British during the American Revolutionary War. The watercolour painting by George James Rowe is the only known view of the arrival of the fleet of Nova Scotian ships carrying those who founded the city of Freetown in Sierra Leone. Led by Black Loyalist leader Thomas Peters and abolitionist John Clarkson, the first ships arrived on March 4, 1792. While this was a landmark event, the presence of the large American slave ship you see in the painting’s foreground is a potent reminder that the campaign against the slave trade was far from over.

Donor: Robert G. Kearns

Object type: 
Painting
Object #: 
M2008.38.1
Collection name: 
Date (age/made): 
1792/1820
Origin/place: 
England
Materials: 
Watercolour on Paper
Dimensions: 
43.6 cm in length by 6.4 cm in width