African American Contributions to American History

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Many blacks contributed to the success of our country in every war that we as a people have ever fought. In order to properly thank them for their heroic effort, I as a Hispanic Caucasian must give credit where credit is due. In order to properly do so, I must begin with the contributions of “Black America” beginning with the American Revolution and continue up until the World War II. Make no mistake blacks made contributions well past World War II, but in the interest of time and accuracy I must stay within the confines of our earlier history. One main aspect that should be analyzed is the fact that no matter how hard the struggle, blacks have always overcome adversity no matter what the cost. Of course, contributions made by blacks are not limited to war alone, but include a wide spectrum of achievements that have advanced civilization as a whole. My personal respect and thanks go to all people who have served and continue to serve this country at any capacity. But we must never forget the contributions made by our black brothers and sisters who gave their lives fighting for a cause that so greatly affected their lives as well as our well being. Charles Dickens said it best in his book A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times it was the worst of times”. The American Revolution was a time of great struggle for people of all races. But, Blacks in particular understood the literal meaning of patriot rhetoric, eagerly took up the cause of American freedom, fighting bravely in the early confrontations with the British. Though the revolution freed some blacks and set the country on a course toward the abolition of slavery, political accommodation to plantation owners forestalled emancipation for many blacks in the south for 90 more years. A black man was one of the first martyrs of the patriot cause. Crispus Attucks, apparently a slave who had run away from his owner 20 years before, died in the Boston Massacre in 1770. Though facts were disputed at trials then as now, witnesses said Attucks hit a British officer with a large piece of firewood, grabbed a bayonet and urged the crowd to attack just before the British fired. Attucks and two others were killed while eight were wounded, two mortally. Blacks served at the battles of Lexington and Concord. Peter Salem, a freed slave, stood on the green at Lexington facing the British when the first battle broke out with the shot that was heard around the world. One of the last men wounded in the battle as the British escaped to Boston was Prince Estabrook, a black man from West Lexington. At least 20 blacks, including Peter Salem, were in the ranks two months later when the British attacked an American position outside Boston in the Battle of Bunker Hill. Salem has been honored for firing the shot that killed Major John Pitcairn, the British officer who led the Redcoats when they had attacked his small unit at Lexington. Unable to venture outside Boston and then threatened with cannon surrounding the city, the British left Boston for New York. As the war changed from a Massachusetts endeavor to a broader conflict throughout the colonies, the politics of race changed dramatically. Blacks had been welcomed in the New England militia, but Congress initially decided against having them in the Continental army. Congress needed support from the South if all the colonies were to win their independence from England. Since southern plantation owners wanted to keep their slaves, they were afraid to give guns to blacks. Congress ordered all blacks removed from the army, but black veterans appealed directly to George Washington, who took up their cause with John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress. Blacks serving in the army were allowed to stay, but new enlistments were forbidden. Though the Declaration of Independence declared that "all men were created equal," many blacks soon saw more opportunity on the British side. The British governor of Virginia...
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