Category Archives: African-Americans in the Revolutionary War

Titus Kent’s Narrative and Driving Questions

Samuel Kent’s Probate, 1772 NB: “Negro Titus” bequeathed to his son Elihu

Titus Kent was an enslaved individual who lived in Suffield, Connecticut from 1733-18xx. His Owner was Elihu Kent who was also an officer in the town’s militia. Titus served in the American Revolution for the Connecticut militia. We do not have any documents describing the relationship that Titus had with Elihu. Nevertheless, we do have documents showing Titus’ first enlistment in the Connecticut State Militia and other regiments throughout the entire Revolutionary War. 

Titus appeared in Samuel Kent’s 1772 probate record when Samuel Kent, father of Elihu, bequeathed Titus and Cato to his son Elihu. Elihu was a captain at the start of the Revolutionary War and led Suffield’s large contingency to the Lexington alarm in 1775. He later became a major.

Fold3 document, Connecticut’s Third Regiment: https://www.fold3.com/image/20744718

Suffield’s nineteenth century town historian, Hezikiah Spencer Sheldon, interviewed older residents in the late 19th century who recalled Old Ti, Titus Kent’s son, and learned that Titus married Rose, who was a slave for the minister, Reverend Ebenezer Gay. Titus Kent and Rose had three children who were manumitted in 1814 by Reverend Ebenezer Gay’s two sons, Reverend Ebenezer Gay jr. and William Gay. 

Titus Kent fought throughout the American Revolution, and our preliminary research discovered him serving in the Third Regiment and was notably getting paid for his service. This is an interesting fact because we do not have any documented evidence of his freedom. Did he keep this money for himself or was he obliged to give some or all of the money to the Kent family?

View Interactive Map at the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington: https://tinyurl.com/ydeeqbg2

George Washington, a significant leader during this colonial time period, captures most of the attention and light written in history books throughout the years. He was the symbol for our country, and at this time Titus Kent was enslaved by the Kent family in Suffield. When George Washington passes through Suffield in 1775 on his way to become General of the Continental Army in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Titus Kent likely attended this parade through town. Titus Kent must have been impressed with Washington’s height, manner, and presence as many of his fellow colonists were at the second Continental Congress in Philadelphia when the appointed Washington to lead the army. Was this encounter a factor that motivated Titus Kent to join the fight on the Patriot side? What inspired Titus Kent to fight along side of other African American in his units for the Patriot cause? Or was he fighting for his freedom?

Here are more documents that the class curated from Fold3.

More documents regarding Titus Kent’s military records discovered in Fold3.

No one really knows about Salem Poor

Salem Poor Biography at Black History Now - Black Heritage ...
This is Salem Poor in a picture and what he might have looked like.
Salem Poor - Wikipedia
This is Salem Poor on a U.S. Stamp.

Salem poor is from my hometown Andover Mass, and it seems no one really knows about him around the town from what I have seen on the internet and in the Andover Townsman. Salem Poor lived in Andover and was owned by John Poor. Then when the revolutionary war came around, John Poor had already released Salem and they had a pretty good relationship, Salem decided to enlist. He enlisted in 1774 and was immediately thrown into the fight. He ended up being in Boston for most of his service, and he is best remembered for what he did at the Battle of Bunker Hill, where he was credited with killing the British Lieutenant James Abercrombie. I don’t think enough people really know about Salem Poor and I want to change that.  

The Life of Joseph Munn, an Unrecognized Hero

            

The Battle of Bemis Heights
First Battle of Saratoga (Battle of Bemis Heights)

Joseph Munn enlisted as a private in 1776. While a soldier, Joseph Munn fought in the regiment of Colonel Thaddeus Cook. This regiment fought in both battles of Saratoga. These took place September 19, 1777 and October 7, 1777. What’s even more amazing is that Munn fought throughout the entire Revolutionary War. 

            The petition that Joseph Munn made for his freedom was actually during his time in the army as a private. He did not just make a petition for his own freedom; he also argued slavery’s existence in general. The source of his petition that I got is an excellent and knowledgable one with very useful information. It was created by Raechel Guest, a Waterbury historian. He also implies that he got stolen from Africa, his homeland. The beginning of his petition is below.

“The Petition of Joseph Munn, a poor African Humbly sheweth that your unfortunate Petitioner, while but a Child, was Snatched by the hand of Fraud and violence from his Native Land and all his dear Connexions and brought into this Land, and notwithstanding by the Constitution of the Great Parent of the Universe who hath made of one blood all Nations of men for to dwell on the face of the earth, he was in Common with others entitled to Freedom and the unalienable rights of Humanity, yet in Violation thereof he was Sold a Slave for Life….”

By reading about the definition of slavery from other enslaved African Americans, I have learned major things about African American history in the colonial era. The first significant thing is that greed had major power during the time. This aspect of human nature is partly what drove the institution of slavery. With Salem Poor, the only way that he got freed from his master was by paying him off. Additionally, I have learned about the act of joining the British side for freedom that many African Americans followed. Stephan Blucke and Deborah Squash sought freedom however best they possibly could.

The main driving factor in my decision to have Joseph Munn as my research figure is that he lived in Connecticut. While his main location, Waterbury, Connecticut is not very close to my hometown, he was also associated with the Town of Farmington, which is only about ten minutes away from my house. When I found out he was in the Revolutionary War, I decided to pursue research on him. Throughout my research, I have been very fascinated by his life. I found out that he was born in Africa and that he actually fought during the entirety of the war, as a Private in Thaddeus Cook’s Regiment. This includes both battles of Saratoga, two of the most important and significant battles in the entire Revolutionary War. However, I was very disappointed to find out that his life took a turn for the worse after he fought in the war. He ended up losing the little he had for owing shillings, and never got his freedom after a heartfelt petition.

Sources: http://waterburythoughts.blogspot.com/2011/04/unalienable-rights.html

https://www.history.com/topics/american-revolution/battle-of-saratoga

http://www.fortunestory.org/waterburysafricanamericans/josephmunn.asp

Quote Source: http://waterburythoughts.blogspot.com/2011/04/unalienable-rights.html

Image Source: https://www.history.com/topics/american-revolution/battle-of-saratoga

Salem Poor, Brave War Soldier Who No One Knows About.

A drawn picture of Salem Poor.

An African American salve born in 1747, on a farm in Andover Mass, my hometown. He was born into to slavery. Owned by John Poor, where he got his name from, who gave Salem a yearly salary of 27 pounds. Before Joining the revolutionary war, Salem ended up buying his own freedom from his master. Married in 1769 and Lived in with his wife and son in Andover. But in May of 1775 Salem enlisted himself into the Military. He ended up being in Boston for most of his time, he his best remember for what he did at the Battle of Bunker Hill, where he was credited with killing the British Lieutenant James Abercrombie. Poor was enlisted till 1780 and was known to have been at Valley Forge and the Battle of the White Plains. The marriage didn’t last, and Salem ended up re marring. His second wife, Mary Twing, was a free African American. The couple ended up moving to Providence but couldn’t support themselves so had to leave the city. Salem ended up getting Married 4 times and the last time in 1801, ended up dying in 1802.

https://www.nps.gov/revwar/about_the_revolution/salem_poor.html

  http://blackhistorynow.com/salem-poor/

Can You Help With Our Investigation of Joseph Munn?

Joseph Munn’s Petition for freedom.

Joseph Munn was an enslaved man in Connecticut. He was originally from Africa, where he was captured and taken to America as a child, forced into slavery. Later on, he became a soldier in the Revolutionary War. He was with several masters while under enslavement. Initially, he was sold to Thomas Seymour of Hartford, Connecticut. His second master was William Nichols. He was later sold to another master in Waterbury, Thomas Hickcox, the cousin of Nichols. Nichols’ estate was confiscated, so Hickox took it over. Munn Joined the war in 1776. Unfortunately, things did not go well for Munn from that point on. A petition he made for his freedom earlier on was voted against. In addition, he was sued by a man named Chanuncey Deming for owing shillings, and lost the little possessions he had.

Sources: http://www.fortunestory.org/waterburysafricanamericans/josephmunn.asp

http://waterburythoughts.blogspot.com/2011/04/unalienable-rights.html

Image Source:http://www.fortunestory.org/waterburysafricanamericans/josephmunn.asp

Driving Questions:

  • What was his specific reason for fighting in the war?
  • What impact did the war have on him?

Stephan Blucke: The Black Loyalist

Stephan Blucke, 1795

Stephan Blucke was a slave in the Revolutionary War from Barbados. He fought for the British side and was known as a “black loyalist.” During his life he not only fought in the Revolutionary War but also the Province of New Jersey. Stephan was a mullato man like most slaves. This means that he is both black and white. Blucke also had a big part in the war because he was considered as the leader of all the blacks on the British side. A little after the war Blucke decided to move to New York City. Here he will marry his wife Margaret Coventry, Margaret eight years later will later leave her husband.

Signature: Nova, Scotia

Sources:

Image Source: http://blackloyalist.com/cdc/people/secular/blucke.htm .

Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Blucke

Understanding Freedom in the Revolutionary War

Deborah squash was the slave of the former U.S. president George Washington. Deborah and her husband worked very hard while being enslaved by Washington and eventually escaped and ran away. She got onto a British ship and this caused a stir back at the plantation. Washington’s cousin, Lund, was furious at the fact they escaped and decided to pursue the slaves. He offered supplies in exchange for the return of the slaves and the British took the supplies and refused to give up the slaves. This is because they were the United states’ enemies at the time so why would they help the US. Word spread quickly about Washington’s cousin helping the enemy and Washington was furious and said his cousins’ actions were “exceedingly ill-judged.” Deborah then made her way to New York where she hoped to get her freedom from the British.

Source: https://wams.nyhistory.org/settler-colonialism-and-revolution/the-american-revolution/deborah-squash/