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 reclaimed the freedom that had been cruelly taken from them, [for a time] aligning their interests with 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

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Watercolour on Paper
43.6 cm in length by 6.4 cm in width