African American serving in the American Revolutionary War
African American serving in the American Revolutionary War


Crispus Attucks was the first African American killed in relation to the American Revolution. He was present in Boston on March 5, 1770, when the so-called Boston Massacre happened. He was one of the six who were shot and killed by the British troops that day.

Attucks was a dockworker. He was part African, and part Native American. He was killed during the Boston Massacre. Historians don't agree on whether Attucks was a free man, or an escaped salve. Historians don't actually know that much about him at all; there are a lot of little bits of historical evidence, such as an advertisement in the Boston Gazette on October 2, 1750 about a runaway slave, that could refer to him but then again, maybe not.

Both the Loyalists and the Patriots promised to free the slaves that fought on their side in the war. After fighting in wars some Africans went back to Africa and some went to Canada.
The freed slaves settled in the British colony of Sierra Leone in Africa.

Over all, about 100,000 African Americans died or escaped over the course of the Revolutionary War. Lord Dunmore told all of the African American slaves that he would free them if they came and joined the British army. But if a slave with a loyalist master came to him, he would not accept their help and return them to their master. Which made it seem like the British assumed that all Loyalist masters were "good", and it was okay for them to have some slaves; whereas Patriot masters were absolutely terrible and any slave who was "owned" by a Patriot should run away and join the British army.

Both Rebels and the British had slave in their army. And in reality, the British officials who claimed that they would free all formerly Patriot-owned slaves couldn't care less about the slaves themselves. They weren't really that compassionate (not that many other people were, towards slaves of that time period). The British did it purely out of the idea that they would have more troops, not their loving personalities. Maybe not that extreme, but still, it was mainly an issue of "We're going to find every way we can to turn everybody against the Patriots and make them love the British" not "We understand that slavery is not right and are giving slaves freedom out of kindness and compassion". One British general, Sir Henry Clinton, said that he promised "to use slaves as weapons against their masters."

Sometimes Loyalists even RECEIVED runaway slaves for helping the British during the war. Like they were being given real live people as rewards for being good British colonists and following the King's every command.

But the Patriots were really not very awesome at all. They kept talking about big ideas like LIBERTY and FREEDOM and RIGHTS and how they were going to break away from this tyrannical other government, and meanwhile, they're still being the "owners" of all these other perfectly deserving people, and calling them their "slaves". Many of the Patriots were extremely hypocritical. It's still really difficult for me (and other people, I think) to UNDERSTAND why in the world they wouldn't try to change this giant hypocrisy they were still keeping in existence. Why didn't they just stop? Why didn't they just come out and SAY that slavery was really un----un---un----just so UN GOOD and that it shouldn't BE anymore? Why didn't they admit it? There must have been other people thinking the same thing. And if there weren't, well, why? I know that John Laurens of South Carolina tried to do something about it; he thought up plans to free a lot of slaves, but they never got approved, and they apparently never got acted upon. So WHY?

Maybe it's not even worth dwelling on; maybe we just have to move on with our modern-day life and make sure that things like slavery never happen again. But there are also probably issues today that years from now, people will be bewildered about our stupidity, and be asking the same questions then that I'm asking about slavery and Revolutionary hypocrisy right now. So we need to look around and find those problems, open our awareness to find the unfair, not necessary, and possibly even stupid aspects of our own society and do something to make those things better, or just get rid of those things altogether.

I am reading Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson in Ms. Cernera's class. I noticed that in that book, if a black person was imprisoned, they were treated unfairly among the group. For instance, they would steal blankets from them and they would eat most of the food, leaving scraps for the slaves.

Benjamin Banneker was a free African American living in Maryland. Although he went to a private Quaker school he was largely self educated. After his father died he devoted his entire life to mathematics and natural science. Benjamin was so good at math that Thomas Jefferson asked him to survey land for the new capital at Washington D.C. When one of the architectures left and took half the maps with him. Then Ben surprised everyone by recalling the maps by memory and drawing them. Ben was soon a symbol of freedom to other blacks. Eventually Ben was granted freedom.

Colonel Louis Cook was perhaps the most high-ranked African American in the American Revolution.He fought against many British troops,

Slaves were treated really badly by their masters. They were branded, whipped, hung, and tortured in terrible ways. People seemed to think that just because African Americans looked different than them, they could treat them horribly. George Washington originally didn't want to have any slaves fighting on his side of the army, because he was scared that once they were armed they would start a rebellion. Later in the war however, he must have changed his mind, because about 5,000 African Americans battled on the Patriot side.

African Americans could fight in the war to earn their freedom, as long as get paid for fighting and being part of the militia. A lot of African Americans didn't care who won, they just wanted the war to be over. The only reason that they were fighting is so they could be free and no longer enslaved.


Many white slave owners would send slaves in their place to fight in the revolution in return for their freedom. Even though the slave owners would say that they were going to give the slaves their freedom, many slaves would not get that, or they would die fighting.

"Stories from the Revolution." The American Revolution. N.p., 04/12/2008. Web. 26 Jan 2011. <http://www.nps.gov/revwar/about_the_revolution/african_americans.html>.

African-American slaves started to be politically active and supported the King, mostly in Virginia, the royal governor actively recruited black men into the British forces in return for manumissiom, protection for them and their families, and land grants.










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