David George


The Life of David George

David George was born into slavery in Virginia and achieved his liberty during the Revolutionary War by running away to British-occupied territories and working for the Loyalist troops. After the War, he and his family were given free passage to Nova Scotia, where they settled among Black communities for several years. In 1792, he joined black emigrant groups recruited for colonization in Sierra Leone. Soon after that, he took the opportunity to move to England to receive a formal education, where he also published his memoir.

The Narrative of David George

His memoir, An Account of the Life of Mr. David George (1793) concentrates on his efforts to gain physical and spiritual liberation and salvation, and his struggles with sin and doubt. It gives examples of his missionary successes but also critiques slavery and racial discrimination in North America from a Black perspective.

George’s depiction of his life in Canada highlights both his good standing among whites and their racist resistance to his work. He repeatedly mentions serving racially mixed congregations and getting support from authorities in Nova Scotia so that he could preach in its various towns. However, he notes that whites treated Blacks cruelly and only reluctantly parted with the cheap labor force that they provided. George also recounts how he and his family were forced to leave the town of Shelburne after they were persecuted for his baptism of a white couple.

As he served Black Loyalist communities, his text connects the spiritual strivings of the Black Nova Scotians to their earthly fight against racism and poverty in a challenging environment


Primary Sources

    • George, David. An Account of the Life of Mr. David George, from Sierra Leone in Africa. 1793. Face Zion Forward: First Writers of the Black Atlantic, 1785-1798. Ed. Joanna Brooks and John Saillant. Boston: Northeastern UP, 2002. 177-90.

Selected Research Literature

    • Egerton, Douglas R. Death or Liberty: African Americans and Revolutionary America. New York: Oxford UP, 2009.
    • Gordon, Grant. From Slavery to Freedom: The Life of David George. Lancelot Press, 1992.
    • Siemerling, Winfried. The Black Atlantic Reconsidered: Black Canadian Writing, Cultural History, and the Presence of the Past. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 2015.
    • Stewart, John. “Mission and Leadership Among the ‘Merikin’ Baptists of Trinidad.” Afro-American Ethnohistory in Latin America and the Caribbean. Ed. Norman Whitten, 1976. 17-25.



General Interest and Educational Sources