Salem Poor was a slave from Andover, Massachusetts. Salem Poor is a perfect example of race relations during the time of the Revolutionary War as Poor was described as a war hero, but did not receive the treatment he deserved. Historians have argued that Poor is a forgotten hero because of his race. It begs the question if would he be forgotten heroes if he had been a white man as many political figures built their reputations in the war. Salem Poor defied the stereotype of African Americans who had small roles in the Army, but was not rewarded for his efforts. While his peers commended Poor’s bravery in the battle, not much came out of it in terms of race relations. Poor fought for freedom but was never able to enjoy that freedom after the war as he received almost no economic benefit from fighting in the war, and in the end dies a poor and forgotten hero of the Revolutionary War.
Salem Poor was an African-American slave who purchased his freedom from his owner to fight in the Revolutionary War. There is no information as to why Poor decided to purchase his freedom as poor was treated as “near family.” Salem Poor bought his freedom for 27 pounds, which was a large sum of money at the time. Poor married shortly after in 1771 and had a child born in late 1774. In 1775 Salem poor decided to leave his family to fight in the American Revolution. Records in Andover show that as early as 1765 Andover residents wanted to break away from the oppressive British rule due to the taxes that were being levied against those who lived in Andover. There are also records that Andover settlers passed a resolution that prohibited the sale of British imported tea. Clearly in Andover there was a section of the population that were clamoring for...
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... them. African Americans like Salem Poor had to choose if they wanted to rebel against the British or remain loyal to the crown. The colonists were reluctant to allow slaves to join the army because they were fearful of slave rebellions. It was not until 1775 that Washington formally allowed slaves to enter into the army. Salem Poor was able to join the army because he bought his freedom from his owner. Poor’s motivations for joining the army are not well known except for the fact that Andover was on the whole an anti-British settlement. Poor fell under the paradox of fighting for freedom that he would never be able to enjoy. African Americans like Salem Poor must have thought that the colonists were acting hypercritical when they were fighting against an oppressive group denying them rights when African Americans were experiencing the same oppressive conditions.
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