African Americans and the Revolutionary War   Leave a comment


African Americans and the Revolutionary War

The Revolutionary War was an important era for both free and slaved African Americans.

Public officials who never gave much notice to slaves now realized that African Americans accounted for 20% of the colonies. Both sides began to beg favor for the slaves and the free African Americans to come fight for their side. It is estimated that 5,000 slaves decided to fight for the Patriots and 20,000 fought for the British cause. New England offered to allow integration and pay African Americans the same pay as whites, yet not one was ever promoted past a corporal.

One of the major reasons slaves chose to fight for the British had to do with one case, the case of James Somersett.

James Somersett was a slave who was taken to England with his master Charles Stuart, he ran away and was recaptured. He sued for his freedom and it was granted by Lord Mansfield, Chief Justice of the King’s Bench. He noted that slavery was so odious that nothing can be suffered to support it, but positive law. However, this did not apply to the British Colonies, unfortunately, slavery was only outlawed in England and Wales.

Sadly, many slaves believed this law applied to all who lived under the British rule, when it didn’t. At the end of the Revolutionary War, one general from the British side refused to reneg on their promise to the African Americans he asked to fight for them in return for their freedom. Their wish was granted and the African Americans returned with the British to England.

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Posted February 23, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Uncategorized

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