In Forced Founders: Indians, Debtors, Slaves, and the Making of the American Revolution in Virginia, what role did Native Americans and slaves have in bringing about the Revolutionary War?
In this book, Holton asserts that slaves and Native Americans helped propel the Virginia gentry towards revolution against the British. It should be noted that he does not think that any one group caused the American Revolution but that different groups created what he calls a "web of influence" that helped move the Virginia gentry towards revolution (page xvii). The crown's policies about Native Americans propelled free whites towards revolution because the British policy favored avoiding a war with Native Americans. To do so, the crown restricted the movements of whites who wanted to settle on the western frontier. As Holton writes, settlers had been moving westward in Virgina towards the Appalachians dating back to the 1740s. By the late 1760s, white families had already reached the Appalachians. However, the Proclamation of 1763, passed by the British crown, established a western boundary to white settlement that the Virginia House of Burgesses wanted to repeal. Their petition to do so was rejected by the Privy Council in England. The British policies about slaves also moved the Virginia gentry towards revolution. In 1775, the British Governor, Dunmore, began to provide runaway slaves with arms to counter settlers who disagreed with royal policies. Arming slaves also went against the interest of the gentry and moved them towards the American Revolution.