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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.
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.
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.
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. White America has always been stereotypical of black people, although blacks have shaped American history through inventions, sports, and political science.The way White America has looked at blacks has never changed.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.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.Note: Your first challenge in studying some of the topics below is finding resources.When conducting an Internet search, be sure to place quotation marks around your search term (try different variations) to narrow your results.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.