58 A SCHOOL HISTORY OF THE
pardon if they would escape and return, and a severe
punishment v/as to be inflicted on those who left the
colony if they were caught.
To Offset the Plans of Lord Dunmore, the
Americans proposed to organize a Negro army, to
be commanded by the brave Colonel Laurens ; and
on this subject the following letter was addressed to
John Jay, President of Congress, by the renowned
Alexander Hamilton. This letter also shows in
what esteem the Negro slave of America was held
by men of note :
"Headquarters, March 14, 1779.
" To John Jay.
"Dear Sir:—Col. Laurens, who will have the
honor of delivering you this letter, is on his way to
South Carolina on a project which I think, in the
present situation of affairs there, is a very good one,
and deserves every kind of support and encourage¬
ment. This is, to raise two, or three, or four battalions
of Negroes, with the assistance of the government
of that State, by contributions from the owners in
proportion to the number they possess. If you
think proper to enter upon the subject with him, he
will give you a detail of his plan. He wishes to have
it recommended by Congress and the State, and, as
an inducement, they should engage to take those
battalions into Continental pay.