The Role of African Americans in the Revolutionary War
An estimated 100,000 African Americans escaped, died or were killed during the American Revolution(Mount). Roughly 95% of African Americans in the United States were slaves, and because of their status, the use of them during the revolution was inevitable(Mount). This led many Americans, especially those from the North, to believe that the South's economy would collapse without slavery due to the use of slaves on the front lines. However, only a small percentage of the slave population enlisted in either army.
The concept of using slaves as soldiers was hardly revolutionary. Blacks had served our country with honor and bravery since the country's earliest days. Not only did the black troops fight for the United States, but also for England. The British crown used their heads and made an agreement which would help them draft slave troops. This was a chance for emancipation of slaves who fought against their masters.
African Americans were active prior to the start of the war. The Boston Massacre was an event which created a want for independence. On March 5, 1770, the British troops stationed on King Street in Boston were confronted with an uprising and began shooting into the crowd(Davis 206). Crispus Attucks, a black man, led the 1770 uprising against British troops that resulted in the Boston Massacre. It is alleged that he cried out, "Don't be afraid!" as he led the crowd of protesters against armed British soldiers. Attucks is considered the first death of the American Revolution(Davis 207).
After the Boston Massacre, a small amount of African-Americans became an active part of the American cause, fighting at Concord, Lexington, and Bunker Hill; in all these engagements, black Americans were prominent in the fighting. Paul Cuffe, an African American, helped supply the American colonies during the American Revolution, smuggling goods past British patrol ships. Lemuel Haynes served as a minuteman during
Cited: Davis, David Brion. The problem of slavery in the age of revolution, 1770-1823 / David Brion Davis. New York : Oxford Universtiy Press, 1999 Kolchin, Peter. American slavery, 1619-1877 . Ed. Eric Foner. New York: Hill and Wang, 1993. Luo, Michael. ""In Manhattan, Another Burial For 400 Colonial-Era Blacks"." New York Times. . Mount, Steve. "Constitutional Topic: Martial Law." USConstitution.net. 30 Nov 2001. http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_mlaw.html (3 Dec 2001)