Role of Blacks in the American Revolutionary War

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“And I hereby further declare all indented servants, Negroes, or others (appertaining to Rebels) free, that are able and willing to bear arms, the joining of His Majesty's Troops, as soon as may be, for the more speedily reducing the Colony to a proper sense of their duty, to this Majesty's crown and dignity.”

-- Lord Dunmore's Proclamation

The quote above is from the British governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore who proclaimed freedom for African American slaves who fought for the British, after George Washington announced there would be no additional recruitment of Blacks in the Continental army in 1776. For numerous free blacks and enslaved blacks, the Revolutionary War was considered to be an essential period in black manifestation. Many public officials (like Dunmore), who initially had not expressed their views on slavery, saw the importance of African Americans and considered them an imperative tool in winning the war. Looking back, it almost seems like an inherent paradox in white America’s desire of emancipation from England while there still enslaving blacks. This concept has different grounds in white’s idea of liberation in comparison to that of the African-Americans. To white Americans, this war was for liberation in a political/economical tone rather than in the sense of the privatized oppression that blacks suffered from. But what started this war and what would this mean for blacks? How did these African Americans contribute to the war effort? What were there some of their duties? How did the white communities perceive them? How did it all end for these blacks? The main topic of this paper is to show how the use African Americans helped the control the outcome of the war while monitoring their contributions.


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