At the end of the war, colonists demanded the return of their property, including slaves, although the British helped many (about 4,000 documented cases) leave the country.
One, Thomas Peters, had run away from slavery in North Carolina to join the British after hearing Dunmore’s proclamation.
He fought throughout the war and at the end, was taken to Nova Scotia with other Loyalists and African Americans who fought for the British.
The British gave the blacks land that could not be farmed and denied them the same freedoms as their white counterparts.
Crispus Attucks, a tradesman of African and Wapanoag descent, was among the first casualties of the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770, which foreshadowed the Revolutionary War.
Attucks and four others killed during the Massacre were all hailed as heroes and buried in Boston’s Granary Burying Ground, which contains the graves of other notables, including John Hancock, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.Blacks Patriots fought in the Revolutionary War alongside their white neighbors, about 5,000 total, including Prince Hall, who hoped to improve their white’s perception of their capabilities.When George Washington took command of the Continental Army in 1775, he recommended to the Continental Congress, which agreed, that freed African Americans should no longer be recruited into the army.The black press was instrumental in documenting black history and giving voice to blacks, who were, at best, ignored in the larger press. Established in 1827 by two freed black men in New York, Presbyterian minister Samuel Cornish and John B.Russwurm—the first black man to graduate from college—the paper reported on current events and contained editorials against slavery, lynchings, and other injustices.Many states already barred blacks, Native Americans, and other groups from joining their militias since it implied their inclusion as citizens in the young nation; a militia represented “the people in arms” and conferred the right to bear arms and receive military training.Freed blacks who were already in the army were allowed to continue fighting; some African Americans, like Agrippa Hull, fought in the war for over six years.In response, they formed their own society, culture, and religious practices as best they could.Some slaves ran away or organized rebellions, most of which were brutally put down.By November 1777, the manpower required to continue the war forced a reversal in the policy of exclusion and the Congress authorized the enlistment of any Negro, the term used at the time, be he free or slave. Free men of color were accepted if they had prior military experience (January 1776) and later (January 1777) recruitment was extended to all free blacks.Among Southern states, only Maryland permitted black troops to serve, so the story of black troops in the Continental Army was that of northern blacks almost exclusively.