My second topic is how the Revolutionary War led to changes in laws about slavery and how people thought about the African-American slaves.
“By 1775 more than a half-million African-Americans, most of them enslaved were living in the 13 colonies including Connecticut.” Early in the 18th century, people suggested that slavery was against the original goal of this new nation, but they were ignored. By the 1760s, however, as the patriots began to speak out against British ruling, more Americans “pointed out the contradiction between advocating liberty and owning slaves.” Abigail Adams wrote in 1774, “it always appeared a most iniquitous 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.”
The idea of freedom and equalness of everyone spread widely. Thousands of slaves had high expectations for their future, 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 slaves, fought against the British at the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill. By 1776, more and more black people participated in the war.” However, the war didn’t give African-Americans the freedom they wanted.
African-Americans served as the “helper” in the army; their jobs were doing hard labors, carrying guns, cannons, and food, and making camps. They weren’t treated equally in the army in the beginning. However, after more and more men died in the war, they started to serve as formal soldiers in the army. The government even set up troops that are all formed by African Americans. The African Americans showed their bravery and wisdom during these years; some earned social position and respect from white soldiers. According to the data, “there were 820 soldiers from Connecticut, which represents 16 percent of the known 5,000 African Americans who served from the 13 colonies and territories. Ten of them are from Pomfret, they are “CAESAR, CATO, DICK, GROSVENOR, ASABA, JAMES, LEWIS/LUIS, SQUIB, CHRISTOPHER, JEREMIAH, WAMPFE and JOSH.”
After the patriots won the Revolutionary War, more and more people started looking for equality and liberty for black people as they had contributed in the Revolutionary War. Some of them felt bad because according to the Continental declaration, everyone was born as equal and free. They began to find a way to change the treatment of the African-Americans. Their efforts were seen by the government, and in 1784, The “Gradual Emancipation Act” declared that the children of enslaved African Americans born after March 1, 1784, were to be granted freedom upon reaching the age of 25.
I think the African-American soldiers who served in the Revolutionary War earned their rights through hard-working and bravery. They made efforts to change people’s opinion of them, they proved that they were warriors, not slaves. They could fight the same as the white people.
Photo Credits: http://www.historyisfun.org/learn/learning-center/colonial-america-american-revolution-learning-resources/american-revolution-essays-timelines-images/african-americans-and-the-american-revolution/(image included in here)