SLAVE AFRICAN AMERICAN Continental Army pay signed JEFF LIBERTY Connecticut 1782 For Sale
SLAVE AFRICAN AMERICAN Continental Army pay signed JEFF LIBERTY Connecticut 1782:
Partially printed Continental Army pay note signed JEFF LIBERTY : "State of Connecticut, Treasury Office, June 1, A.D. 1782." Pvt. Liberty was born a slave—and we just don’t know too much more about himWe know he entered the war at age 55, survived to gain freedom, a wife, two daughtersand a small piece of land. He died when he was 72. He must have been well tendedand cared about in his life CTSSAR Color Guard recently visited Old Judea Cemetery in Washington, Conn. to honor Pvt. Jeff Liberty.Pvt. Liberty was a black soldier who served in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. The Color Guard dedicated a new head stone at his grave in his honor. Judea Cemetery, also known as Old Judea Cemetery, is a colonial era burying ground located on Judea Road in Washington, Connecticut. Before it became a separate town in 1779, and chose to name itself "Washington", the area was known as "Judea", and was part of Woodbury, Connecticut. Judea Cemetery is the site of a monument in honor of "Jeff Liberty and His Colored Patriots", erected in the early 20th century, and is thought to be the resting place of a number of African-American soldiers who served in the American Revolutionary War, including Jeff Liberty. Liberty was owned by Continental Army Captain Jonathan Ferrand, who is buried in Old Judea, and he (Liberty) earned his freedom by fighting in the Continental Army. "Liberty" is known to have been chosen as a surname by a number of slaves freed in this era. Jeff Liberty-Buried in a cemetery inWashington, Ct. Cothran's "History ofWoodbury" indicates that he was the slaveof Jonathan Farrand and had been freed forenlisting in the war (p. 783>. Liberty servedin the Fourth R~giment of Ct. from June 27through October 11, 1781. According tomanuscript records at the State Library a surgeon in the Fourth Regiment that Liberty was too old and "too infirm to endure thefatigues of camp and is an improper subjectfor the Army." He was discharged in October. Liberty's grave in the Judea Cemeteryin Washington, CT, is marked with a plaqueplaced by the local Sons of Liberty chapter. FORT MEADE, Md. (Feb. 27, 2013) -- It's the winter of 1777-1778. Under Gen. George Washington, the Continental Army is waiting out the winter at Valley Forge, Penn. Just one year earlier, they had led lighting-fast, surprise attacks against the British at Trenton and Princeton, N.J. But now, many of the Soldiers are without shoes and blankets. They're starving. They're suffering from exposure, typhus, dysentery and pneumonia. They're dying and they're deserting and Washington has no way to replace them. States aren't meeting their militia quotas. There simply aren't enough willing and able men to left to fight -- willing and able white men, that is. At the start of the war, Washington had been a vocal opponent of recruiting black men, both free and especially slaves. He wasn't alone: Most southern slave owners (and many northern slave owners), found the idea of training and arming slaves and thereby abetting a possible slave rebellion far more terrifying than the British. Black men had long served in colonial militias and probably even saw action during the French and Indian War, explained retired Maj. Glenn Williams, a historian at the U.S. Army Center for Military History, but they had usually been relegated to support roles like digging ditches. In fact, he continued, most southern militias had been created precisely to fight off slave insurrections. As war with Britain broke out in the spring of 1775, however, Massachusetts patriots needed every man they could get, and a number of black men -- both slave and free -- served bravely at Lexington and Concord and then at the Battle of Bunker Hill. In fact, according to documents archived on www.fold3.com, a former slave named Salem Poor performed so heroically at Bunker Hill -- exactly what he did has been lost to history -- that 14 officers wrote to the Massachusetts legislature, commending him as a "brave and gallant Soldier" who deserved a reward. Valor like this wasn't enough, however, and shortly after his appointment as commander in chief, Washington signed an order forofferding the recruitment of all blacks. The British saw an opportunity to divide the colonies, however, and the royal governor of Virginia offered freedom to any slave who ran away to join British forces. Thousands took him up on it, and Washington relented almost immediately. In fact, the famous picture of him crossing the Delaware on Christmas Day, 1776, also features a black Soldier who many historians, according to "Come all you Brave Soldiers" by Clinton Cox, believe is Prince Whipple, one of Washington's own bodyguards, who had been kidnapped into slavery as a child and was serving in exchange for freedom. Another black Soldier, Primus Hall, reportedly tracked down and single-handedly captured several British soldiers after the battle of Princeton a week later. These were freemen, however, freemen and slaves who were serving in place of their masters, fighting for freedom they would never see for themselves. (In many cases, their enlistment bonuses or even their pay went straight to their masters.) Washington still wasn't prepared to go as far as recruiting and freeing slaves, but many northerners had begun to question how they could call for freedom and enslave others. As that terrible winter at Valley Forge dragged on, the state of Rhode Island learned it needed to raise more troops than it could supply. State legislators not only promised to free all black, Indian and mulatto slaves who enlisted in the new 1st Rhode Island Regiment, but offered to compensate their owners. Desperate for manpower, Washington reluctantly agreed, and more than 140 black men signed up for what was better known as the "Black Regiment," according to Williams, and served until Gen. Lord Charles Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, Va., in 1781. In fact, they fought so bravely and inflicted so many casualties on Hessian mercenaries during the battle of Newport, R.I., in the summer of 1778, that Williams said one Hessian officer resigned his commission rather than lead his men against the 1st Rhode Island after the unit had repelled three fierce Hessian assaults. He didn't want his men to think he was leading them to slaughter. The 1st Rhode Island was a segregated unit, with white officers and separate companies designated for black and white Soldiers. It was the Continental Army's only segregated unit, though. In the rest of the Army, the few blacks who served with each company were fully integrated: They fought, drilled, marched, ate and slept alongside their white counterparts. There was never enough food or clothes or even pay for anyone, but they shared these hardships equally. After watching a review of the Continental Army in New York, one French officer estimated that as much as a quarter of the Army was black. He may have been looking at the 1st Rhode Island or units from Connecticut and New Jersey, which also had high rates of black enlistment, Williams explained. Many muster roles have been destroyed so there isn't an exact count, but Williams said most historians believe that 10 to 15 percent is a more accurate representation of black Soldiers who served in the Revolution. They served in almost every unit, in every battle from Concord to Fort Ticonderoga to Trenton to Yorktown. "I've heard one analysis say that the Army during the Revolutionary War was the most integrated that the Army would be until the Korean War," Williams said. "World War I and World War II both, and of course in the Civil War, there were lots of blacks in uniform, but the men were segregated into separate units. Even the Rhode Island regiment was half black, half white, and the men were segregated into their own companies, but in the rest of the Army, they were integrated throughout the regiments." It was a war for freedom, not only for their country, but for themselves. After the men of the1st Rhode Island and other black Soldiers served bravely at Yorktown alongside southern militiamen whose jobs it had been to round up runaway slaves, the war gradually drew to a close. Soldiers began to trickle home. Some black Soldiers like those in the 1st Rhode Island, went on to new lives as freemen. Far too many, however, returned to the yoke of slavery, some for a few years until their masters remembered promising to free them if they served, but others, having fought for freedom, were doomed to remain slaves forever. And then they were forgotten. The new Congress passed laws forofferding blacks to serve in the military, and by the time it offered pensions to the veterans of the Revolutionary War, Williams said that most of the black heroes were already dead. He calls their service and their heroism "invaluable." It "came at a time when the new United States needed it very badly and they stepped up and they took their place in the ranks. If they were misrepresented in our histories before, then we owe it to them to make sure we include it now, because they certainly did their part to earn not only their own freedom, but ours as well. We should never forget that for them, it was a double fight for liberty: their own and their country's." Gov. Walcott Branch #10, CT Society of the Sons of the American RevolutionGraveside Ceremony Honoring Jeffrey Liberty: Patriot and SlaveSaturday October 19, 2019 | 11 amOld Judea Cemetery, Jude Cemetery Rd,Washington, CtPersonal Commentary: On LibertyPat Wilson Pheanious, JD, MSWRep. District 53Good Morning:I want to thank the—Sons of the American Revolution for hosting this ceremony and inviting meto offer reflections on the occasion.For although we honor Jeffrey Liberty—we are in reality recognizing and honoring many menlike him —men not known to us, but to whom we owe our property, our dignity and our freelives.At this ceremony you bind together patriotism, history and education.You inform and preserve truth in our memory of that war where we took our freedom. Many men have died in too many wars in defense of this nation’s liberty.And far too many of them have been forgotten.That fate was especially likely for men like Jeffrey Liberty—American Patriots of Color.Pvt. Liberty was born a slave—and we just don’t know too much more about himWe know he entered the war at age 55, survived to gain freedom, a wife, two daughtersand a small piece of land. He died when he was 72. He must have been well tendedand cared about in his life.But Oh, we know the irony of his name. LIBERTY. LIBERTY!The name given to a man born a slave.Was this a cruel joke, a prayer…a constant yearning, or a prophecy?We gather today to reflect, and—to bring a long lost dignity to a simple man.A man who fought for his freedom while fighting for the freedom of a precious Ideal:AMERICA.When I reviewed today’s program, I noticed in Pvt. Liberty’s biography that the word “owned”was in quotation marks. It started me thinking:I understand that in this day and age, the concept of “OWNING” someone seems foreign anduncomfortable. It should.But I think that to truly appreciate the LIBERTY we enjoy….we may need to be reminded ofwhat it meant to be enslaved.A person enslaved, forfeit his status as a human being.Forfeit the protection of society.Forfeit the right to protect oneself — to protect his own children.An enslaved person’s only value was in what he could do for his owner.A person owned could be sold away from all he knew and loved.Whether she lived, bore children or died was based on somebody else’s need orwhim.The past didn’t matter; nor could connections to others in the present.The future was always uncertain.A slave couldn’t own anything, and could not benefit from his own efforts.He was discouraged from any recognition of personal achievement.He could not legally marry, learn to read, or gather in groups of more than two withoutserve — these things had limited utility, becausethe fruits of an enslaved man’s efforts accrued to somebody else.There was no point in saving because nothing could be protected or passed on. Slavery stole value from people who looked like me.It appropriated their talentsIt tried to steal their humanity, their identity, their dignity and their self-worth.It cruelly separated people from their culture, their history, and all the things thatgive our lives purpose and meaning.I know that some people don’t like to talk about slavery, because it is uncomfortable, painful,and because it happened so long ago. But if we do not listen to history we cannot learn from it. If we do not discuss such things, we cannot develop words to teach truth and tolerance to ourchildren. If we won’t teach our children truth, we will doom them to a life of ignorance andpsychic pain.LIBERTY. ….LIBERTY!Can we truly know what the word means to this country, what the state of being free is…. if weallow ourselves to forget its opposite?Jeffrey Liberty and many Black men fought for their freedom by fighting for the freedomof a country which would so often continue —to deny freedom to them.Last year I had a special and unique experience.I gained 5 generations of personal history in a single afternoon.Dennis Culliton, a master at ancestry and then a teacher at Addams Middle School hadfor some time researched the history of Guilford and the forgotten people who hadhelped to build it.He founded the Witness Stones project—an educational program based on a model usedin Germany recognizing forgotten holocaust victims. After extensive research of primarysources— wills, property, probate documents and church records, a small marker isplaced —a testament acknowledging, “We know you were here and your life matters”.Under his leadership, Dennis and his students carefully researched the lines of Mossesand Phyllis—two teenagers kidnapped from Africa and brought to the home of aGuilford Merchant.The students found their daughter Flora— who married the freedman Sharper Rogersand hadCeasar Rogers who hadAbel Rogers whose daughter marriedAlexander Wilson who hadWilliam Wilson who hadBertram Wilson Sr. who hadMy father, Lt. Col Bertram Wilson, Jr. who married my mother and had me!Dennis was elated to have found a living end to his tireless research.In one afternoon I learned of this lineage. And that experience caused me to want to learn moreabout what was now, MY American History. So I studied.And when I did I was surprised to learn things nobody ever taught me when I was in school.In my education there was.LOST CONTEXT:I had no idea there were slaves in Connecticut. I always thought slavery was more or less asouthern plantation thing.I learned that Slavery was practiced by Europeans prior to arrival in the Americas andthat it was important to all of the colonial powers and existed in all of the European NorthAmerican Colonies.I never understood the intentionality or pervasive impact of slavery. I never fullyappreciated that Slavery was an institution of power designed not just to create maximumprofit but to break the will of the enslaved.Slavery was a relentless quest for profit… abetted by racism. And it is written into ourConstitution and the early laws of most of our state. My education didn’t help meunderstand how Slavery shaped the fundamental beliefs of Americans about race andwhiteness…..that white supremacy was both a product and legacy of slavery.LOST HISTORY.I was astounded to learn that at least 820 African American soldiers and seamen fromConnecticut served in the Revolutionary War!That was almost 16% of the 5000 who served from all 13 colonies!Some estimate that up to 10,000 Black Men served in the Revolutionary War.These men fought for their freedom on both sides of the line.There were Black patriots—but there were also Black men who, when promised theirfreedom, fought for the Crown. When the English were defeated, some of these menfled to Novia Scotia and Jamaica. Most were returned to slavery by the English. WhileI’m glad that my ancestors were on the right side of history, I have trouble condemningthe desperate people who fought for anyone that would make them free.Did you know that no less than 80 Connecticut towns are connected to an AfricanAmerican Revolutionary War Patriot.African American men served in at least the 1st through 9th Connecticut Regiment andother units, in the Continental Army.Only last year did I learn that my 5th Great Grandfather, Sharper Rogers served in the 6thConnecticut Regiment as a freedman. He had been free for some time he enlisted. Soimportant to him was the idea of Liberty that he fought for the nascent America. He hadnothing to gain and everything to lose. Still he fought.Only last week I learned that Grandpa sharper also fought alongside the man we honortoday. Apparently when the 6th regimen was restructured, Sharper was moved to ColHumphrey’s Colored Troops—where for at least a year he served in Jeff Liberty’s unit!I didn’t know these things. I am 69 years old. And I have to wonder why a lifetime of the bestAmerican education failed me.You have asked me to provide personal reflections on this occasion. My feelings are complex.First: It pains me that men like Jeff Liberty, my fifth Great Grandfather, and so many thousandsof men have been so long forgotten.Second: I am also gratified that those who keep the legacy of the American Revolution are nowpublicly recognizing the humanity of their nearly forgotten SONS.But most important—an event like this, recognizes my forefathers’ contribution to the birth ofthis nation, and cements in me an indelible sense of belonging and entitlement to this Americanland….Understand me:Even before I learned my history I’ve never felt estranged from this county. I knew I hailed from a distant Africa, but American was all I knew and had.I was raised to be a patriot and to value public service by my father, a man whofought IN THREE WARS—he was a Tuskegee Airman in WII, and as asupervising officer in Korea and in Vietnam.I was raised to understand what it is to be an American, how precious our freedomand our constitution.—how limitless my potential. I was taught how to makemyself strong so I could help build this country and protect her from enemiesforeign and domestic.But, the fact is, that so much lost history, intentional lack of acknowledgement and the norm ofexclusionary treatment, caused me, in most of my younger years, to observe that my presence inthis country was begrudged.I’ve always felt that people like me were like the Nation’s poor relations— tolerated, involuntary“visitors,” unwelcome in this country.Is it any wonder that frustrated people scream “Black Lives Matter?” The objective reality is thatfar too often, they simply don’t.Learning that my family’s roots go back to before this country was born, gives me a sense ofpride and destiny. I don’t have to intuit. I have proof that the sweat and blood of my forefatherscourses through this country’s veins. I am a vibrant and indelible part of this nation’s fabric.With this knowledge:No one will ever again be able to tell me that I should go back to where I came from.Clearly, I am home. I can trace my roots further back than most of the come-latelyimmigrants who might try to make me feel “other” than I am. My roots go back to a timebefore the American ideal itself had a home.I am sad that such taunts ever hurt me.And I am angry that they so unfairly hurt others whose ancestors’ contributions were lost,stolen or strayed.An occasion like this one gives me hope.Hope that patriotism, education and History can be bound together—and will stay thatway.Hope that people who look like me can be nourished by attention to contributions madeso long ago but never acknowledged.I am GRATEFUL that I live in a nation born free.I am PROUD that my folks helped secure that freedom.I am CURIOUS about history’s truths, yet to be uncovered.And, I CHERISH the opportunity to share my experiences, gain new knowledge and teach amore complete history— one with accurate perspectives on how our country grew and why it hasthe potential to become truly great. Jeffrey Liberty fought from bondage to freedom.He did not surrender to doubt— nor to uncertainty— nor efforts to steal his humanity. He earnedthe land he fought to protect, and lived to pass it on.His efforts and those of other forgotten Black men set an example and left a foundational legacyon which my abilities and ambitions could thrive.Today we make a place of honor for this simple man— one where his dignity will be securedforever and where his weary soul can rest. CTSSAR Color Guard recently visited Old Judea Cemetery in Washington, Conn. to honor Pvt. Jeff Liberty.Pvt. Liberty was a black soldier who served in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. The Color Guard dedicated a new head stone at his grave in his honor. Judea Cemetery, also known as Old Judea Cemetery, is a colonial era burying ground located on Judea Road in Washington, Connecticut. Before it became a separate town in 1779, and chose to name itself "Washington", the area was known as "Judea", and was part of Woodbury, Connecticut. Judea Cemetery is the site of a monument in honor of "Jeff Liberty and His Colored Patriots", erected in the early 20th century, and is thought to be the resting place of a number of African-American soldiers who served in the American Revolutionary War, including Jeff Liberty. Liberty was owned by Continental Army Captain Jonathan Ferrand, who is buried in Old Judea, and he (Liberty) earned his freedom by fighting in the Continental Army. "Liberty" is known to have been chosen as a surname by a number of slaves freed in this era. Jeff Liberty-Buried in a cemetery inWashington, Ct. Cothran's "History ofWoodbury" indicates that he was the slaveof Jonathan Farrand and had been freed forenlisting in the war (p. 783>. Liberty servedin the Fourth R~giment of Ct. from June 27through October 11, 1781. According tomanuscript records at the State Library a surgeon in the Fourth Regiment that Liberty was too old and "too infirm to endure thefatigues of camp and is an improper subjectfor the Army." He was discharged in October. Liberty's grave in the Judea Cemeteryin Washington, CT, is marked with a plaqueplaced by the local Sons of Liberty chapter. In “The Negro in the American Revolution,” Benjamin Quarlessaid the African-American was “a participant and a symbol. He wasactive on the battlefronts and behind the lines . . . The Negro’s rolein the Revolution can best be understood by realizing that his majorloyalty was not to a place nor to a people, but to a principle. Insofaras he had freedom of choice, he was likely to join the side that madehim the quickest and best offer in terms of those ‘unalienable rights’of which Mr. Jefferson had spoken.”African-Americans served in the Massachusetts companies and inthe state militias of northern states. The Rhode Island regiment atYorktown was three-fourths black. African-Americans also servedin the navy. It is estimated that about 5,000 African-Americansserved in the war.Many African-Americans fought with the British since the Britishcommander, Sir Henry Clinton, offered freedom to slaves whowould fight for the King. The British used the runaway slavesas guides, spies and laborers (carpenters, blacksmiths, etc.). Byusing the African-Americans as laborers, whites were free to besoldiers.Many slaves left when the British evacuated after the end of the war.Quarles says. “Thousands of Negroes were taken to other islandsin the British West Indies . . . Practically all the black immigrantswere slaves. Many had been brought in as slaves, but many otherswho came expecting to be free were seized by those holding nolegal title . . .”.The Continental Army had two all-black units and a third unit camefrom Haiti. The First Rhode Island Regiment had ninety-five exslaves and thirty freedmen. This unit served throughout the entirewar. Another unit was Boston’s Bucks of America, led by GeorgeMiddleton. Very few facts are known about this group. They gaveBoston merchant’s property as recognition for protection andGovernor John Hancock awarded them a special medallion andflag.A number of black soldiers fought in the patriot ranks at the Battleof Kings Mountain. Pension records indicate that five and possiblysix African-Americans fought for the Patriot cause.Five African-American participants at Kings Mountain:Essius (Esaius) Bowman - a free man, served in Captain JoelLewis’ company from Virginia. He is said to have been one of themen who shot Patrick Ferguson, commander of the Loyalist forceAfrican-Americans in the Revolution1) list the responsibilitiesof African-American soldiersin the Revolution, and; 2) discuss the contributionsof at least three AfricanAmericans of the era.3) identify dutiesmost often performed 1at Kings Mountain.John Broddy - a servant, was with Colonel William Campbellof Virginia. Although he did not bear arms, he was near enoughto the battle to observe the action and while riding horsebacknearby was fired upon by Loyalists mistaking him for ColonelCampbell.Andrew Ferguson - a freeman of Virginia stated that both hisfather and mother were free persons. He was drafted early inJanuary 1780 at the age of fifteen. Two weeks prior to beingdrafted, while with his father, Andrew Peeley, he was takenprisoner by a British pressgang. After escaping, he and hisfather were under the command of Captain William Harris andColonel William McCormick. The first engagement in whichFerguson took part was the battle at Allegheny. He recalled thatColonel Morgan, Colonel McCormick, Captain Harris, and thetwo British officers who had captured him were in the battle.Ferguson was in the battles of Maumie, Brandywine (as wasMajor Patrick Ferguson who was the Loyalist Commander killedat Kings Mountain), a battle in Rowan County, North Carolina,Camden (not in the main action, but nonetheless was shot in theleg), Musgrove’s Mill, Kings Mountain, Cowpens, and GuilfordCourthouse. He was wounded in the head at Guilford Courthouse(which was treated by insertion of a plate made of hammeredsilver coins) but went on to fight in the battle of Ninety Six andEutaw Springs. He was granted a pension on his applicationexecuted on August 16, 1838 while residing in Monroe County,Indiana. In 1851 he stated he was aged about ninety-six years. Awell-known and widely respected citizen of the state, Fergusonwas granted 160 acres of bounty land on an application filed in 1855.Primes (also called Primus) - a free man, applied for pension December 16, 1846 while residing in RoanCounty, Tennessee, and aged eighty-six years. He said that he enlisted during 1777. Part of the time hewas under Captains Garter, Abbot, Locke, and Colonel Williams. He was taken prisoner at Charleston,was paroled, violated his parole, and rejoined the army. Primus was again taken prisoner, this time at GumSwamp, and was again released. He was in the battle at Camden (where he was wounded in the head),Kings Mountain, Cowpens, Guilford Courthouse, Eutaw Springs, and the siege of Yorktown. Primes leftno widow at his death, but one son, Primes, Jr., survived him.Ishmael Titus - was born a slave and when aged about thirteen years was sold to John and Richard Marrwho lived on the Dan River in North Carolina and owned an interest in Troublesome Iron Works. He livedwith them a long time and was then sold to Lawrence Ross.While residing with Ross in Rowan County, North Carolina, Titus substituted for Ross who had been draftedfor a one year tour. Titus was promised his freedom in exchange. During this service Titus was stationedat Fort Independence and was in several encounters against Indians and Loyalists. Thereafter, he enlisted,and arrived at Gates’ defeat just as the American force began to withdraw. Titus was under Captain JohnCleveland and Colonel Cleveland in the battles of Deep River and Kings Mountain. Later he enlisted underGeneral Greene and was in the battle of Guilford Courthouse. Titus filed a pension application on October10, 1832 while residing in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, and aged eighty-nine years.Illustrations by Frieda CollinsIV-B: 2Some African-Americans who played a significant role in the American Revolution were:Crispus Attucks - an African-American member of the Sons of Liberty who was the first person killed inthe Boston Massacre, March 5, 1770.Prince Easterbrooks - a slave in Lexington who had enlisted in Captain John Parker’s militia and whowas wounded at Concord, April 19, 1775.Peter Salem - a slave who was one of about 20 black soldiers at the Battle of Bunker Hill. John Trumbull(who witnessed the battle) painted Salem in his “Battle of Bunker Hill.” Salem is credited with killing theBritish leader, Major Pitcairn, in the battle.Salem Poor - a freeman who enlisted in the militia and fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill. He also servedat Valley Forge and White Plains.William Lee - a slave bought by George Washington in 1768, he served with Washington throughout thewar and returned to Mount Vernon where he lived the rest of his life. He is pictured in John Trumbull’s“George Washington, 1780.” The will left by Washington freed him and gave him $30 a year.Oliver Cromwell - enlisted in a company attached to the Second New Jersey Regiment. He was at theBattles of Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, Monmouth, and Yorktown. He served with Washington fornearly 7 years. His discharge was written by Washington. He lived to be 101, dying in 1853.Thomas Peters - Born in Africa, he was kidnapped and became a slave on a plantation perhaps in Louisiana.He was in North Carolina when the war began. He fought during the entire war and was wounded twice.After the war, the British took him to Nova Scotia but did not keep the promises of land grants to Peters andothers. He went to London to complain to the government. While there, he was approached by a companyto lead a group back to Africa. In 1792, he took eighty-four people, including his wife and six children toFreetown, Sierra Leone. He is considered one of the founders of Sierra Leone even though he died shortlyafter returning to Afric Only 50 years after the defeat of the British at Yorktown, most Americans had already forgotten the extensive role black people had played on both sides during the War for Independence. At the 1876 Centennial Celebration of the Revolution in Philadelphia, not a single speaker acknowledged the contributions of African Americans in establishing the nation. Yet by 1783, thousands of black Americans had become involved in the war. Many were active participants, some won their freedom and others were victims, but throughout the struggle blacks refused to be mere bystanders and gave their loyalty to the side that seemed to offer the best prospect for freedom. By 1775 more than a half-million African Americans, most of them enslaved, were living in the 13 colonies. Early in the 18th century a few New England ministers and conscientious Quakers, such as George Keith and John Woolman, had questioned the morality of slavery but they were largely ignored. By the 1760s, however, as the colonists began to speak out against British tyranny, more Americans pointed out the obvious contradiction between advocating liberty and owning slaves. In 1774 Abigail Adams wrote, “it always appeared a most iniquitious scheme to me to fight ourselves for what we are daily robbing and plundering from those who have as good a right to freedom as we have.” Widespread talk of liberty gave thousands of slaves high expectations, and many were ready to fight for a democratic revolution that might offer them freedom. In 1775 at least 10 to 15 black soldiers, including some slaves, fought against the British at the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill. Two of these men, Salem Poor and Peter Salem, earned special distinction for their bravery. By 1776, however, it had become clear that the revolutionary rhetoric of the founding fathers did not include enslaved blacks. The Declaration of Independence promised liberty for all men but failed to put an end to slavery; and although they had proved themselves in battle, the Continental Congress adopted a policy of excluding black soldiers from the army. In spite of these discouragements, many free and enslaved African Americans in New England were willing to take up arms against the British. As soon states found it increasingly difficult to fill their enlistment quotas, they began to turn to this untapped pool of manpower. Eventually every state above the Potomac River recruited slaves for military service, usually in exchange for their freedom. By the end of the war from 5,000 to 8,000 blacks had served the American cause in some capacity, either on the battlefield, behind the lines in noncombatant roles, or on the seas. By 1777 some states began enacting laws that encouraged white owners to give slaves for the army in return for their enlistment bounty, or allowing masters to use slaves as substitutes when they or their sons were drafted. In the South the idea of arming slaves for military service met with such opposition that only free blacks were normally allowed to enlist in the army. Most black soldiers were scattered throughout the Continental Army in integrated infantry regiments, where they were often assigned to support roles as wagoners, cooks, waiters or artisans. Several all-black units, commanded by white officers, also were formed and saw action against the British. Rhode Island’s Black Battalion was established in 1778 when that state was unable to meet its quota for the Continental Army. The legislature agreed to set free slaves who volunteered for the duration of the war, and compensated their owners for their value. This regiment performed bravely throughout the war and was present at Yorktown where an observer noted it was “the most neatly dressed, the best under arms, and the most precise in its maneuvers.” Although the Southern states were reluctant to recruit enslaved African Americans for the army, they had no objections to using free and enslaved blacks as pilots and able-bodied seaman. In Virginia alone, as many as 150 black men, many of them slaves, served in the state navy. After the war, the legislature granted several of these men their freedom as a reward for faithful service. African Americans also served as gunners, sailors on privateers and in the Continental Navy during the Revolution. While the majority of blacks who contributed to the struggle for independence performed routine jobs, a few, such as James Lafayette, gained renown serving as spies or orderlies for well-known military leaders. Black participation in the Revolution, however, was not limited to supporting the American cause, and either voluntarily or under duress thousands also fought for the British. Enslaved blacks made their own assessment of the conflict and supported the side that offered the best opportunity to escape bondage. Most British officials were reluctant to arm blacks, but as early as 1775, Virginia’s royal governor, Lord Dunmore, established an all-black “Ethiopian Regiment” composed of runaway slaves. By promising them freedom, Dunmore enticed over 800 slaves to escape from “rebel” masters. Whenever they could, enslaved blacks continued to join him until he was defeated and forced to leave Virginia in 1776. Dunmore’s innovative strategy met with disfavor in England, but to many blacks the British army came to represent liberation.
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