Blacks in the American Revolution Essay

Blacks in the American Revolution Essay

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The American Revolution resonated with all classes of society, as it stood to divide a nation’s loyalties and recreate the existing fabric of society. During the 1770s to mid 1780s, no group living in the British American colonies was left unaffected. For blacks enslaved in America, the war presented the fleeting possibility of freedom in a nation that was still dependent on an economic structure of oppression and bondage. For those blacks that were free, they chose their alliances wisely in hopes of gaining economic opportunities and improving their status in the American colonies. The American Negroes, whether free or enslaved, could be found on either side of the battlefront. They took on many different roles, some fighting on the frontlines, while others remained servile labourers. To better understand the impact of the American Revolution on blacks, it is necessary to reflect upon the political and economic conditions of the time. With this, it becomes clear that blacks’ loyalty rested with the side that made them the quickest and best offer in terms of their “unalienable rights.” Although many enslaved blacks did not obtain their freedom, together they brought to light the incompatibility between the slave labour system and the ideology that fuelled the revolution. In looking at the wartime experience of free and unfree blacks, both Patriot and Loyalist, it can be seen that blacks succeeded in finding their voice in the American colonies and transforming the American Revolution into their own war for independence.

Many political and economic factors contributed to the involvement of blacks in the American Revolution. Despite their numbers, blacks, for the most part, remained oppressed and subservient leading up to the o...


... middle of paper ...


...story where slaves were able to vote with their feet.

In the spring of 1775, there was a call for military volunteers to serve the Patriot cause, and although blacks were not directly affected by revenue stamps, sugar duties or tea parties, they presented themselves to the Patriots and were initially accepted into the army. They took part in the first military engagement to destroy the military supplies at Concord. However, the inclusion of blacks in the Patriot ranks quickly faded and within ten months after Lexington and Concord a pattern of exclusion had developed. Since most of the Negroes who had enlisted were slaves, their service violated the property rights of their masters. The dominant reason, however, for the elimination of blacks’ service was fear. Many prominent decision-makers believed that “a slave with a gun was an open invitation to trouble.”

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