The Role of African Americans in the Revolutionary Essay

This essay has a total of 740 words and 5 pages.

The Role of African Americans in the Revolutionary War

The Role of African Americans in the Revolutionary War

An estimated 100,000 African Americans escaped, died or were killed during the American
Revolution(Mount). Roughly 95% of African Americans in the United States were slaves, and
because of their status, the use of them during the revolution was inevitable(Mount). This
led many Americans, especially those from the North, to believe that the South's economy
would collapse without slavery due to the use of slaves on the front lines. However, only
a small percentage of the slave population enlisted in either army.

The concept of using slaves as soldiers was hardly revolutionary. Blacks had served our
country with honor and bravery since the country's earliest days. Not only did the black
troops fight for the United States, but also for England. The British crown used their
heads and made an agreement which would help them draft slave troops. This was a chance
for emancipation of slaves who fought against their masters.

African Americans were active prior to the start of the war. The Boston Massacre was an
event which created a want for independence. On March 5, 1770, the British troops
stationed on King Street in Boston were confronted with an uprising and began shooting
into the crowd(Davis 206). Crispus Attucks, a black man, led the 1770 uprising against
British troops that resulted in the Boston Massacre. It is alleged that he cried out,
"Don't be afraid!" as he led the crowd of protesters against armed British soldiers.
Attucks is considered the first death of the American Revolution(Davis 207).

After the Boston Massacre, a small amount of African-Americans became an active part of
the American cause, fighting at Concord, Lexington, and Bunker Hill; in all these
engagements, black Americans were prominent in the fighting. Paul Cuffe, an African
American, helped supply the American colonies during the American Revolution, smuggling
goods past British patrol ships. Lemuel Haynes served as a minuteman during the American
Revolution, fighting at the siege of Boston and at Fort Ticonderoga. It wasn't until
Valley Forge and the large scale desertion of the Continental Army that Washington was
forced by circumstances to re-think his views and take African-Americans into his army.

The British saw Washington's original actions and promised emancipation for all slaves who
fought for England. Washington's position towards blacks had made it clear that the
individuals running the revolution were not interested in black freedom, so the British
offer literally produced a flood of African-American volunteers to the British Army. The
escaped slaves were not merely good soldiers; they were passionate and saw the British
cause as a way to rebel against their American masters. Despite being on the losing end of
the war, slaves who fought for the British in the American Revolution mark the beginning
of an emancipation movement.

The center of the Southern economy was the slaves and their contribution to the plantation
owners. Southern agriculture was founded on the cultivation of tobacco, wheat, and corn in
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