Tag Archives: revolutionary war

Battle of Bunker Hill and Col. Thomas Grosvenor (1744-1835)

In my research on 1774 and Pomfret, CT, I discovered a specific soldier that fought in the Revolutionary War and who also happens to be from Pomfret, Connecticut. Thomas Grosvenor was the sixth child of John and Hannah Grosvenor. He served in the military, and one of the famous battles he participated in was Bunker Hill. He joined the 1st Co. 3rd Connecticut Regiment, which was commanded by Israel Putnam in the battle of Bunker Hill. He killed 9 British soldiers, and he was also wounded in his right hand, which he bound with a white cravat during battle. (Yale University Library)

FoE_Trumbull_Lieutenant Thomas Grosvenor_0

Lieutenant Thomas Grosvenor and His Negro Servant

The portrait, Lieutenant Thomas Grosvenor and His Negro Servant, is a detail oil sketch from the picture of the Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill by John Trumbull, which was painted 10 years after he painted the original. This repaint was requested by a French portraitist. In the picture, Grosvenor is standing with his “faithful servant.” Both of them are looking to their right anxiously. According to the Yale Center for British Art, they were considering whether to retreat or go help General Warren.

The African-American person standing behind Thomas Grosvenor often has been falsely identified as Peter Salem. However, recent research shows that he might be a slave of the Grosvenor family named Asaba, who is recorded as a free servant in later records. Asaba is noted in Connecticut’s Black Soldiers 1775-1783 by David O. White. Asaba is also listed in National Mall Liberty Fund D.C.’s The Hometowns of Connecticut’s African American Revolutionary War Soldiers, Sailors and Patriots.

The Rectory School’s East part of the Main building was built by Col. Thomas Grosvenor in 1792; it was known as the Mansion House. “The house was always open to the chance visitor and for many years was a refuge for the remnants of Indian tribes that still lingered in Connecticut…” It is said that a young Mohican Indian danced upon the ridgepole as part of the celebration.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Grosvenor

White, David. Connecticut’s Black Soldiers 1775-1783, Pequot Press, 1973.

www.libertyfunddc.org

Clement, Peter. “The Rectory School – Main House – Grosvenor Text.” Rectory School Archives, 2002.

Image:

http://interactive.britishart.yale.edu/slavery-and-portraiture/299/lieutenant-thomas-grosvenor-1744-1825-and-his-negro-servant

African American slaves earned position by fighting in the Revolutionary War!

 

Lafayette-and-James-Armistead-1780s-215x300

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.”

 

 

Abigail Adams

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.”

African-American soldiers doing labor

 

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.

Sources: http://libertyfunddc.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/WINDHAM-COUNTY-BACKGROUND-AFRICAN-AMERICAN-REVOLUTIONARY-WAR-RESOLUTION.pdf

http://www.historyisfun.org/learn/learning-center/colonial-america-american-revolution-learning-resources/american-revolution-essays-timelines-images/african-americans-and-the-american-revolution/

http://slavenorth.com/connecticut.htm

http://teachersinstitute.yale.edu/curriculum/units/1980/6/80.06.09.x.html

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)

http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/history-archaeology/black-troops-civil-war-georgia

http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=2

 

Bermuda Supporting the Colonies

As our 2017 Project Base Learning class has continued to look into 1774 regarding slavery and freedom in Suffield, Connecticut, we have been expanding to our search to the surrounding colonies and the Triangle Trade. The Triangle Trade was very crucial to the colonies economy. Slaves from Africa were sent to the West Indies to work on sugar plantations. This sugar was then transported up to the Colonies to be sold, and in return the Colonies traded food and supplies to the West Indies. The islands in the West Indies were populated with sugar plantations, and with this monopoly and wealth, they had enough money to pay whatever necessary funds for food and supplies. This allowed for the Colonies to charge high prices and enabled anyone to get in on the trade. I was curious of my hometown of Bermuda and where it fit into all of this during this era so, I started investigating our role in the trade.

I discovered Bermuda was not only apart of the triangle trade but also sympathized with the colonists idea of freedom. In the book “In the Eye of all Trade”, by Michael Jarvis, the details of Bermuda’s role in the trade is presented. Bermuda’s economy was dependent on trade by sea, and merchant ships from the Colonies and the West Indies. Being such a small island, Bermuda was not able to join the Colonies in their rebellion against the British, so instead they assisted the Colonies by selling them over a thousand Bermuda Sloops, which are very fast sailboats. However, along with the West Indies, when the revolution began, Bermuda worried of starvation as they relied heavily on imports of food from the Colonies. Likewise, the Colonies depended on Bermuda for salt, so Bermuda began exchanging salt for food. To further assist the Colonies, two Bermudians, Benjamin Franklin and Henry Tucker, robbed a hundred barrels of gunpowder to send to the Colonies.  As the Revolutionary War continued,

Sept61775georgewashingtonlettertoBermuda.jpg

Scan of letter from George Washington to Bermuda

Bermuda was still unable to join due to the power of the British Royal Navy. Nevertheless, George Washington wrote a letter to Bermuda addressing the topic of trade and Bermudas role in assisting the colonies. In his letter, Washington stated that if Bermuda continued to assist the Colonies in their fight for freedom, he would ensure that “your island may not only be supplied with provisions, but experience every mark of affection and friendship, which the grateful citizens of a free country can bestow on its bretheren and benefactors”.

The connection between Bermuda and the Colonies is clear and their support during the Revolutionary War was very beneficial in the fight for freedom. The small island of Bermuda played its own role in the rebellion and was a large part of the triangle trade.

http://www.bermuda.com/do-you-know-what-george-washington-promised-the-people-of-bermuda-in-1775/

https://allthingsliberty.com/2014/11/the-bermuda-powder-raids-of-1775/

Jarvis, Michael Joseph. “In the eye of all trade”: maritime revolution and the transformation of Bermudian society, 1612-1800. N.p.: n.p., 1998. Print.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Bermuda#Bermuda_and_the_American_War_of_Independence

http://www.bermuda-online.org/history1700-1799.htm

 

 

 

 

Titus Kent In and After the War.

In our American Studies class, we have been researching freedom and slavery in Suffield during 1774. We continue to find people, events and places linked to both topics.

In my previous research I was looking into Old Ti and his family and heritage. Since then I was looking into his life, specifically his father fighting in the Revolutionary War along with his owner Elihu Kent. I was also looking for proof of Titus Kent fighting in the war as well as him getting his freedom and his pension.

jonathan

J Kent Seeking T Kent’s Pension

In my research I found, by looking through old war documents, monuments and lists, that Titus Kent did indeed fight in the Revolutionary War along with Elihu Kent and Elihu Kent Jr. I am still uncertain whether Titus got his freedom after the war, but I found records of applications for his pension. What is interesting about these documents is that they are not filed so that Titus himself can retrieve his pension. They are filed so that other people could get his pension.

As I was looking for documents proving Titus Kent’s position in the war, I came across Ancestry.com. This website contains original documents from the war, as well as containing information about the Kent family.

This also proves that Titus Kent did indeed survive fighting in the war. As for his freedom, it doesn’t mean he necessarily got his freedom.
As I progress in my research, I intend to research what happened to Titus Kent after the war? If he gets his freedom even though he didn’t get his pension? And who Jonathan Kent is in relation to Titus?