African American Solidiers and the American Revolution

A Collective Effort to Uncover the Silences in Black History by:

Stephanie Aguilar, Neha Balram, Perrie Garcia, Danh Phan, and Mark Tozer

The Declaration of Independence embodied the ideologies of those American colonists who were in favor of the American Revolution (1775-1783). Written by the Continental Congress, this document boldly endorsed and demanded “certain unalienable Rights”. Among these rights were “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”, which the Continental Congress considered to be explicitly necessary for “all men”. Given the cultural context of this argument and the existing racial hierarchy in the colonies, historians can understand why African people in America, both free and enslaved, were considered undeserving of “unalienable rights”. African people, after all, were denied the right to adopt the title “citizen”. However, the ideas the American colonists fought for during the War provided African people a new cultural, legal and national language. With this new language African people entered the intellectual arena of rebellion; their strongest argument being that their essential service to the colonies had earned them the title “citizen” and therefore the rights listed in the Declaration of Independence.  In an effort to uncover the history concerning the involvement of African-descended men and women in the Thirteen Colonies, this essay examines the lives and known attitudes of and towards the African people in the colonies immediately before, during, and after the American Revolution. In addition, a portion of this essay will analyze the rippling effect of the exclusive ideologies of the French Revolution that were almost immediately adopted and altered by the black Haitians upon hearing the success of the Revolution.

America pre-Revolutionary War divided black society into two classes, free or enslaved. During the 18th century, the Atlantic Slave Trade was a thriving business, which brought needed slaves to the agricultural based Southern states, not excluding the Northern states however, in which slavery was also a legal institution. By 1775, 20% of the total population in the colonies consisted of slaves which approximates around 450,000 enslaved Africans, with half of the enslaved centered in Virginia or Maryland. Working on plantations tending indigo, rice and the most profitable crop tobacco, enslaved African-Americans lived in humble huts scattered around the plantation. Culture was a keen aspect in the enslaved lives, as it was their only way to stay connected to their homeland. Music, architecture, language and eating utensils were central cultural practices that African-Americans upheld throughout their instilment into Colonial America. Roughly 60,000 or 8% of the colonial population consisted of free African-Americans. However not enslaved, free blacks did not enjoy the same privileges as their white counterparts. As a result of black codes, free blacks were not allowed to vote, testify in court against a white person or marry a white person. Distasteful to the white population, most free blacks worked in urban areas where they held jobs as construction workers, metal working and trade of different sorts.

Leading into the American Revolution, African-Americans were put in a predicament of whether to rebel or remain loyal to the crown. Enslaved African-Americans fought for the British because they promised the enslaved freedom, pending on the result of the war.  Though the British were eager to attain blacks for enlistment, the rebels were not. It was not until 1777 that George Washington formally allowed free blacks to enlist because there was a fear of rebellion from the slaves. As the war progressed, the principles that the founding fathers were fighting for were viewed as hypocritical in the eyes of African-Americans. The rebels fought for freedom from the tyranny from Parliament, yet the rebels themselves enslaved people prohibiting them from  natural rights gaunranteed by birth.

As the Revolutionary War began its course through history, revolutionists began using such words as “liberty” and “freedom” as a means to justify their fight for independence. To these revolutionists, “liberty” and “freedom” stood for the inalienable rights they had as human beings, ones that a government can never take away. Furthermore, they believed that it was within their rights to govern their own lives as well as their pursuit of happiness. Using these ideals, revolutionists were able to create a propaganda that would inspire as well as incite other colonists to take action against the British Crown. Though their actions may be motivated by a noble caused, their ideals remained contradictory to all aspects of human life. These contradicting principles were stirred by unrelenting fears of Blacks and their possible rebellions. Up until this point in time, Blacks were merely pawns used in the colonists’ quest for wealth. Their rights were restricted and their identity as humans became lost in the institution of slavery. Furthermore, it was only through rebellions that Blacks were able to create an identity for themselves as well as fear amongst the colonists. It was due to these fears that many colonists refused to allow free Blacks into the Continental Army and continued their brutal treatment of slaves as property while asserting the claim that all men were created equal. While fears of Blacks remained high in the colonies, British forces soon recognized the significant role of Blacks within the war and issued a proclamation that encouraged Blacks to leave their plantations and joined the British in search for freedom. The proclamation would be known as Dunmore’s Proclamation, and it was by this proclamation that the British sought to destroy the southern economy. The Earl of Dunmore forced himself to believe that slaves were motivated by revenge from their cruel treatments rather than the freedom they would attain. Many scholars show that enslaved people “reserved [their] allegiance for whoever made them the best and most concrete offer” (Quarles, 292-293) and believed that “loyalty was not to a place or person, but to a principle” (Quarles, vii). Though the principle would ultimately be identified as freedom, free and enslaved blacks began to question how the colonists defined liberty because even as free blacks, they were denied their rights of citizenry and had to abide by the rules given to slaves. Following Dunmore’s Proclamation, the British also issued the Phillipsburg Proclamation which extended the scope of Dunmore’s Proclamation and proclaimed all slaves in the newly established country belonging only to American patriots were free regardless of their willingness to fight.

After a harsh winter at Valley Forge and a large number of deserters, members of the Continental Congress began to identify the pressing need for soldiers.  With the Continental Army’s numbers dwindling, the Continental Congress ordered a draft to raise an army. Initially in order to avoid the draft, slave owners substituted themselves with their slaves while privately offering freedom for such a task. Once the Continental Congress gave their orders, General Washington rescinded his previous order of excluding black soldiers and allowed free blacks to enlist in the Continental Army in January, 2 1777. Blacks who chose to join the Continental Army were promised freedom following the war. However, once the war ended blacks were captured by English as well as British officers and taken as spoils of the war. Others were returned to their masters unless they were able to provide papers stating their freedom. One such example arose from the life of James Armistead Lafayette, a Black spy of the Continental Army whose missions led to the British surrender of Yorktown. James Armistead was born in Virginia in 176 as a slave to William Armistead and was granted permission from his master to volunteer for the Revolutionary War and ultimately served under the French commander, Marquis de Lafayette. During his missions, James Armistead was able to transfer information to Continental forces that then created a successful French blockade of British reinforcements, forcing General Cornwallis to surrender. However great his contributions were to the success of the Continental Army and the creation of The United States, James Armistead was forced to return to his master in the aftermath of the war because he was considered a “slave-spy” and was not eligible for emancipation. In the following years after, James Armistead was able to petition to the Virginia legislator for his emancipation with the assist of the Marquis de Lafayette and eventually earned his freedom in January 1786.  Some slaves decided against facing the anger of their masters and the repercussions of their actions by evacuating with British forces. In the years following the Revolutionary War, the British began to ship 1568 Blacks to Jamaica in August of 1783 and by December 23, 1782 an additional 1786 Blacks were taken to St. Augustine as they began their evacuation of Savannah, Georgia. Contrary to their hopes, some evacuating slaves were sold to plantations in the West-Indies while others settled in various lands such Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone.

The history of African people in the American colonies has been preserved through collective memory, or the collection and preservation of historical details that are purposely edited by a group of affiliated individuals, either culturally or politically, in order to protect the group’s interests, historical image, and pride. However, American collective memory has often harmed the African community by failing to acknowledge their contributions to colonial America. Historical figures, such as Crispus Attucks, have been devalued or ignored because of their racial identity as a person of African descent. Crispus Attucks, who was present during the Boston Massacre of March 1770, is believed to be the first casualty of the American Revolution. Attucks’ racial identity was rarely advertised in 18th century literature. Attucks was occasionally distinguished racially from the colonists who died that night by the absence of “mister” before his name or the description of him as a “mulatto man”. (Kachun, 252, 258) The ambiguity about his racial identity was not a result of lack of witness or information, but a strategic attempt to reserve the image of a hero for white colonists. Acknowledging Attucks as a hero or a martyr, an honor Attucks earned from the black community during the 1850s when abolitionist discourse was emerging, threatened the racial hierarchy that white men had established. This artificial hierarchy was manufactured initially for the purpose of economy but quickly branded African people with an identity of  less value than a white man’s identity.  African people, having adopted the legal language of the Declaration of Independence, argued that their service in the colonies, whether it was laboring on a plantation or helping in the colonists fight for independence, qualified them for rights as citizens. Attucks came to symbolize the “black citizen-soldier”, who embodied African patriotism, military service, sacrifice and citizenship.  However, in order for white America, as a new nation, to accept the image of the “black citizen-soldier” and of Crispus Attucks as the first martyr, not casualty, of the American Revolution, colonists would have to recant their concept “race” and remove the embedded notion of racial hierarchies.

The American Revolution and the events leading up to it were not an isolated occurrence in that they gave blacks a legal framework to protest and challenge their enslavement, due to the language of equality among men.[1] Even if the Founding Fathers did not view blacks as men, the language contained within documents (i.e., The Declaration of Independence) would later give abolitionists such as David Walker a vocabulary and language to use in order to articulate their cause:


Are we MEN!! – I ask you O my brethren I are we men? See your Declaration [of Independence] Americans!!!  Do you not understand your won language?  Hear your languages proclaimed to the world, July 4, 1776 – “We hold these truths to be self-evident – that ALL    MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL!!  that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!!”  Compare your own language above, extracted from your Declaration of Independence, with your cruelties and murders inflicted by your cruel and unmerciful fathers and yourselves on our fathers and on us – men who have given your fathers the least provocation!!!! [2] (emphasis David Walker’s)


More immediately, however, there is at least one other such event involving slavery coupled with the ramifications of a legal framework and vocabulary of equality: The French Revolution.  Before I go any further, I must emphasize that, per lectures given in Robert G. Moeller’s  History 70B: Revolutions class given at UCI during the Winter Quarter of 2011 A.D., there was not just one French Revolution.[3] I hereby arbitrarily, for the purposes of this paragraph, mean the period between 1789 A.D.  This is when the Estates-General was convened to the point when Napoleon Bonaparte came into power a little later than 1800 A.D., and even possibly beyond.  This encompasses more than phase of the original French Revolution (or multiple revolutions).  One also must see that the connection between the French Revolution and the Haitian Revolution are that the same revolution, “an Atlantic revolution,” according to Laurent Dubois.[4] Therefore, the two are intrinsically connected.  The main point: The French/Haitian Revolution did not give just a legal framework, but a new framework of language and vocabulary, as well as additional motivation from which to work for freedom.

It would be problematic to say carte blanc that the French Revolution gave slaves a legal framework from which to operate.  This is because of the multitude of different demographics of “colored” people involved.  There were free mulattoes and free blacks, whom were not slaves.  Piecing together various readings, it is obvious that (at least initially) the free nonwhites had vastly different interests from the slaves (indeed, quite a few free nonwhites actually owned slaves).  For the free nonwhites/mulattoes, the French Revolution was a battle for racial equality[5], while for the slaves, it was coupled for their want of freedom[6].  According to C. L. R. James, enslaved blacks were antagonistic towards the free blacks and mulattoes, especially in the southern regions of French San Domingue (present-day Haiti)[7].  Therefore, the free blacks were not united with the enslaved blacks in the interests of all blacks.

However, there was major a similarity.  The (American) Declaration of Independence and the (French) Declaration of the Rights of Man were both “hypocritical” in that both left out a mention for rights for black men while at the same time arguing, especially in the French case, giving the rights to just about all sections of the male white society. While (according to this group’s blog’s argument) the Declaration of Independence was used by blacks as a framework for their own emancipation, the Declaration of the Rights of Man was used by Mulattoes and free blacks and groups such as The Friends of the Black Man to get rights for free persons of color[8]. Slaves were not in this particular argument and abolition was a separate argument based on a separate issue due to the vocal colonial lobby in the National Convention of France[9].  However, once slavery was abolished in 1793 A.D., it gave the blacks extra reason to fight vociferously to defend their freedom, thus giving them even more motivation to defend their freedom in the midst of attempts by Napoleon Bonaparte to re-enslave them[10].

The French Revolution on the European continent led to a successful rebellion in Haiti by slaves and Mulattoes.  This did not occur in America.  When the American Revolution was over, some slaves were freed, particularly several of those whom fought in the army.  But most of those who served as laundrymen, trench diggers, teamsters, etc. ended up back in slavery[11].  There was no armed rebellion[12].  It is common knowledge that the notion of a separate, independent nation in the southern region of the United States of America composed of free blacks, as championed by certain individuals in the antebellum period, would never come into existence.  In conclusion, the American Revolution did not give the black population as a whole a motivation for violently overthrowing the American government (despite later attempts by John Brown and Nat Turner to do so), as happened in Haiti.  Instead, the slaves and the their supporters (the abolitionists) would attempt to use the legal system, both in the legislative and judicial branches, to overthrow the racist laws, but not the actual government.

While some enslaved men were freed because of their participation in the military, many women used the legal system to gain freedom. Philllis Wheatley, a phenomenal poet, was an enslaved woman. She voiced her “hopes that the principles of liberty and freedom” would result in the abolition of slavery and her poem “created a sensation in Massachusetts” (Berkin, 131). Phillis Wheatley won freedom from her master; however, her work also inspired anti-slavery ideologies to the legal system. “In 1780, the Pennsylvania legislature enacted a gradual emancipation law that directly connected the ideals of the Revolution with the rights of African Americans to freedom” (Berkin, 132). The legislators made a statement that resembled Philis Wheatley’s “insistence on universal humanity” (Berkin, 132). With her remarkable poems and insight, Phillis Wheatley was able to captivate the Massachusetts people, and she unintentionally influenced the prohibition of slavery in the Massachusetts legal system. Another extraordinary woman that utilized this Massachusetts law was a middle-aged slave known as Mumbet. Her knowledge of laws and rights may have been because of her belonging to a prominent and respected lawyer named Colonel John Ashley (Berkin, 132). Mumbet sought out a young and rising lawyer named Theodore Sedgwick to fight for her freedom after the Massachusetts emancipation law. Sedgwick “successfully argued that slavery was incompatible with the guarantee of liberty in the 1780 state constitution” (Berkin, 132). The court ruled in favor of Mumbet and she was freed. These two wonderful stories do describe astonishing accounts of emancipated women. Although these women were the exception, the countless and nameless women that were not freed or freed and lost their freedom to violence or trickery are rarely mentioned and sadly have no significant position in our collective memory.

The end of the war reflected some progress for some slaves. One known fact is that many enslaved individuals were successfully emancipated. For example, Dianah and Hannah of the Linning plantation were physically incapable of escaping bondage. But with the chaos and distractions of the war, these two women, one blind and the other elderly, successfully hid behind the British Army and traveled to Canada where they were free (Berkin, 125). This remarkable story indicated that freedom from slavery did occur for people other than soldiers. Soldiers, on the other hand, were supposed to be granted freedom in gratitude for their American service. Even though many American soldiers were freed, there were cases of soldiers who were returned to slavery. For instance, “some masters had entered slaves as their substitutes, passing them off to the authorities as free men and privately promising them freedom, but when the term of enlistment expired, they tried to repossess their former chattels” (Quarles, 183). This deceiving tactic was indicators of how all soldiers were not freed, and that there were situations when men were tricked back into bondage. Also, it is important to note a few state laws that were enacted in the early years of the republic. “The Connecticut act stated that no child thereafter should be held to service after reaching twenty-five years of age, and Rhode Island declared that all children born of slave mothers after March 1, 1784, would be free”(Quarles, 193). These laws displayed a sense of anti-slavery attitude that was brought on mainly because of the inconsistencies of the rationales for the war. There are some fantastic stories of liberation and bravery among African American slaves during the American Revolution, but through selective historical memory there are many accounts that lacked entertainment and success that were forgotten and under-documented. The average slave should be remembered too because these slaves suffered and many were not ever given their freedom.

The American Revolution not only freed enslaved individuals, it also reinforced racial differences because of the opposing ideologies of freedom. There was an obvious polarized view of what freedom meant which became evident during as well as after the war. Americans were fighting for economic freedom against the British Empire.  In doing so, the Declaration of Independence was created to announce the separation of the thirteen colonies from Britain. However, the work of the document stated, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (Declaration of Independence).  This wording of the declaration was put into question because of the practice of slavery.  The institution of slavery denied equality and rights to enslaved African people. This contradictory showed signs of hypocrisy especially since African American soldiers were fighting for the freedom of America. The war did expand the idea of freedom and may be credited for pushing forward some anti-slavery movements. The war was also responsible for freeing many African American individuals; however, their freedom did not guarantee a happy and prosperous life. Instead, the difficulties of class mobilization and continued racism kept freed African Americans in a secondary citizen position.


  • March 5, 1770 A.D.
    • Crispus Attucks, an African American, dies alongside several whites in the Boston Massacre.[13]
  • April 1772 A.D.—January 1773 AD.
    • In April of 1772 A.D., Lord Mansfield, Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, rules that slavery is illegal in the British Isles, but slavery could continue in Britain’s Colonies.  Less than a year’s time later in January of 1773 A.D., “the General Court in Boston receives the first of three petitions” challenging the legality of slavery in Britain’s Atlantic Seaboard colonies; Lord Mansfield’s ruling gave slaves the beginning of a legal framework in which to challenge their enslavement.[14]
  • November 5, 1775 A.D.
    • Lord Dunmore’s Proclamation that blacks are allowed to serve in the British Army, and will receive freedom for doing so.  By December 8, 1775 A.D., 300 blacks had joined.[15]
  • December 30, 1775 A.D.
    • George Washington realizes that his troop numbers are far less than those of the British.  He reverses his ban on blacks serving in the Continental Army, and further allows the re-enlistment of the blacks who had been kicked out from the army.[16],[17]
  • July 4, 1776 A.D.
    • Declaration of Independence, while not specifically giving slaves the right to freedom, gives them a legal framework from which they can work with to argue that they deserve freedom.
  • Early 1778 A.D.
    • At least two all-black units are formed; one of them has “the only commissioned black officer in the Continental Army” [18]
  • Circa April, 1781 A.D.
    • James Armistead joins the Continental Army with permission from his master to serve Marquis du Lafayette as a servant.  Little does the master know that his slave will serve as a spy for Lafayette and will gain important intelligence from the British, and will help America win the war.[19]
  • June 1781 A.D.
    • A general from the French Army (ally of the Continental Army) “estimates” that one-fourth of the Continental Army is black.[20]
  • 1782 A.D.
    • The War is over. The Virginia legislature passes a bill allowing slaves who served to become manumitted.  But far more are returned to slavery.[21]
  • 1783 A.D.
    • The Virginia legislature condemns the injustice of the black slaves being kept by their masters when they should have been manumitted for their service in the Continental Army.[22]
  • January, 1789 A.D.
    • James Armistead is one of the few black non-soldiers to get his freedom for his service in the Revolution.  [23]


Discussion Questions

  1. Given the statements made by Benjamin Quarles and an understanding of a slave’s mentality, do you think slaves were motivated by revenge due to their harsh treatment or were they just looking for their independence?
  2. Would you say that the Revolutionary War overall helped emancipate African -American slaves, or do you think the Revolutionary war had little or no affect on American slavery?
  3. Reflect for a moment on the term “collective history” in the context of the American Revolution. Has collective history been more or less beneficial to America as a nation? to African Americans? And what can we, as students of history, do to promote an accurate portrayal of history for future students?
  4. Do you find the Declaration of Independence to be a hypocritical document when it was signed in 1776?
  5. How should the Virginia state legislator’s responses regarding the fact that former slaves who fought in the Continental Army were not being manumitted be interpreted?

Works Cited

Paragraphs 1, 6: Neha Balram

Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1992.

Kachun, From Forgotten Founder to Indispensable Icon: Crispus Attucks, Black Citizenship, and Collective Memory, 1770–1865 Journal of the Early Republic – Volume 29, Number 2, Summer 2009, pp. 249-286

Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2003.

Paragraphs 2-3: Perrie Garcia

“The American Revolution.” U.S. National Park Service – Experience Your America. 4 Dec. 2008. Web. 17 Feb. 2011. <>.

“The Lives of African-American Slaves in Carolina During the 18th Century.” SCIWAY – South Carolina’s Information Highway – SC. 2011. Web. 17 Feb. 2011. <>.

Paragraphs 4-5: Danh Phan

Benjamin Quarles, The Negro in the American Revolution (Chapel Hill:University of North Carolina Press, 1961).

“James Armistead Biography”, The Biography Channel website. 2010. February 3 2011.

Mintz, S. (2003). Lord Dunmore’s Proclamation. Digital History. Retrieve (August 6, 2005) from

Paragraphs 7-13: Mark Tozer

Blackburn, Robin. “Anti-Slavery and the French Revolution.”  History Today 41, no. 11 (November 1991)

Dubois, Laurent.  “An Atlantic Revolution”.   French Historical Studies 32, no. 4 (2009): 655.

Hooker, Richard.  “African Americans in the American Revolution.”  World Civilizations. (accessed Winter 2011)

Hunt, Lynn, and Jack R. Censer.  Liberty, Equality, Fraternity: Exploring the French Revolution.  University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001.

James, C. L. R.  The Black Jacobins. New York: Random House, 1963.

Jefferson, Thomas.  “The Declaration of Independence.”  Charters of Freedom. (accessed Wednesday, March 02, 2011).

Knight, Franklin W.  “The Haitian Revolution and the Notion of Human Rights.”  The Journal of the Historical Society 5, no. 3 (2005): 391

Moeller, Robert.  History 70B: Problems In History: Revolutions lecture notes and lectures.  Given in class Winter Academic Quarter 2011 A.D.  University of                           California, Irvine. (accessed multiple times during the Winter Quarter of 2011)

National Park Service, “Valley Forge Encampment: Diversity of the Revolutionary Soldiers.”  Log On and Learn: Discover Presidential Log Cabins.                                        (accessed Winter of 2011)

Selig, Robert A.  “The Revolution’s Black Soldiers.” (accessed winter of 2011)

Walker, David.  Excerpts from “Appeal”.  Africans in America. (accessed Wednesday, March 02, 2011).

Paragraphs 15-16: Stephanie Aguilar

Berkin, Carol, Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for America’s Independence. Alfred.Knopf, New York 2005.

Quarles, Benjamin. The Negro in the American Revolution. The University of North Carolina Press, North Carolina 1961.



[2] David Walker Appeal:

[3] Based off of lectures given in class plus his course website, which requires a password.  A common question he asked the class during lectures was “[Which French] Revolution?”  Bob Moeller, History 70B: Problems in History: Revolutions ; access through EEE (

[4] Laurent Dubois, “An Atlantic Revolution”, French Historical Studies (2009) vol. 32, is. 4 (655)

[5] C. L. R. James, The Black Jacobins,  Random House: New York, 1963; pages 64—78 (a little too much, but enough to cover everything).

[6] The results are evident of the cause, for the slaves started fighting for their own freedom, as noted in this article: Franklin W. Knight, “The Haitian Revolution and the Notion of Human Rights”, The Journal of the Historical Society, (2005), vol. 5, is. 3, page 391 (quote on page 405).

[7] One of many cases is mentioned in The Black Jacobins; copyright 1963 by Random House, New York; page 129

[8] C. L. R. James in The Black Jacobins quotes Robespierre: “You urge without ceasing the Rights of Man, but you believe in them so little yourselves that you have sanctified slavery constitutionally (there was murmuring in the Assembly).” Pg. 76; on page 77 the efforts of the mulattoes succeed and get their rights.

[9] Robin Blackburn, “Anti-Slavery and the French Revolution”, History Today, issue 41, volume 11 (Nov. 1991) pg. 19

[10] Quasi-similar idea.  Jack R. Censer and Lynn Hunt, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity: Exploring the French Revolution, copyright 2001, Pennsylvania State University Press: University Park, PA.  pg. 128.


[12] Common knowledge.












Danh’s Suggestion For Further Readings

Mullen, Robert. Come All You Brave Soldiers: Blacks in America’s Wars: The Shift in Attitudes from the Revolutionary War to Vietnam. New York: Pathfinder Press.

Adams, Catherine. Love of Freedom: Black Women in Colonial and Revolutionary New England. Oxford University Press, 2010.

Wilkins, Roger. Jefferson‘s Pillow: The Founding Fathers and the Dilemma of Black Patriotism. Beacon Press, 2002.

Malcolm, Joyce. Peter’s War: A New England Slave Boy and the American Revolution. Yale University Press, 2010.

Knoblock, Glenn. Strong and Brave Fellows: New Hampshire’s Black Soldiers and Sailors of the American Revolution, 1775-1784. McFarland & Company, 2003.

Perrie’s Suggestions for Further Research:

U.S National Park Service

American Revolution

Colonial Williamsburg

Neha’s Suggestions for Further Research:

Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem. Black profiles in Courage: A Legacy of African American Achievement. New York: William Morrow and Co., c1996.

Horton, James Oliver. Landmarks of African American History. New York: Oxford University Press, c2005.

Lanning, Michael Lee. The African-American Soldier: from Crispus Attucks to Colin Powell. Secaucus, N.J.: Carol Publ., c1997.

PBS Video Database Resource: Eyewitness Accounts-The Boston Massacre

PBS: The Boston Massacre

PBS: Crispus Attucks

Suggested Videos:

The Patriot (view clip until 3:05)

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A famous Hollywood production, The Patriot, is centered in South Carolina during the American Revolution. Although the film’s historical inaccuracies has been repeatedly noted by historians, we feel that the film is worth watching because it prompts viewers to question the directors motive behind including these inaccuracies, specifically surrounding the African characters. Is The Patriot a modern day example of collective memory, as the term relates to Black History?

Billy and James: Choices Facing African Americans during the Revolutionary War

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