At first, neither George Washington nor the Continental Congress approved of enlisting African Americans in the new army. Nevertheless, Black men—both slave and free—filled the ranks and served in all of the early battles. Black sailors also saw action in every major naval battle of the Revolution, including members of John Paul Jones's crew aboard the Bonhomme Richard. At least thirteen Black Americans served in the newly formed US Marine Corps during the war.
Bravery among African Americans was commonplace, as recognized by their commanders and state governments, and their bravery is recorded here in the stories of citizen Crispus Attucks at the Boston Massacre; militiaman Price Esterbrook at Lexington Green; soldier Salem Poor at Bunker Hill; and marine John Martin aboard the brig Reprisal.
As interest in colonial history enjoys renewed popularity due to works like Hamilton, and the issues of prejudice and discrimination remain at the forefront of our times, African Americans in the Revolutionary War offers an invaluable perspective on a crucial topic that touches the lives of Americans of every color and background.
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About Michael Lee Lanning
Michael Lee Lanning retired from the army as a lieutenant colonel after more than twenty years’ service. During his assignment to Vietnam, he served as both an infantry platoon leader and a company commander in the 199th Infantry Brigade (Light). He lives in Phoenix, Arizona.
About Bill Andrew Quinn
Bill Andrew Quinn is a veteran in the voice-over world. In addition to hundreds of commercials and audiobooks, his many credits include work on The Sopranos, The Montel Williams Show, and Showtime at the Apollo, as well as characters for Grand Theft Auto IV and other video games. Totinos, Corona, Lincoln-Mercury, and McDonald’s are among his many television campaign clients.