Blacks in the American War of Independence


The American War of Independence, also known as Independance War, started that day. The first battles of Lexington and Concord were fought between the Americans and the British, and essentially started the Great War. As a poet Ralph Waldo Emerson Famous in his track “Concord Hymn”, the battle inspired the phrase “shot heard around the world”. What Emerson didn’t note in his poem, however, was that it was at this time Black and American by birth soldiers first joined the fight, supporting a militia in a war that would rage for eight years.

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Among the black “Minutemen” or members of the militia, former indentured servant Lemuel Haynes stands out prominently. Abandoned by a white mother and an African father, Haynes would work on a farm in Massachusetts until he could gain his freedom from bondage. At the age of 21, Haynes would volunteer to become a Minuteman in Massachusetts before joining a full-fledged military unit in Connecticut.

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Shortly after the Lexington and Concord clashes ended, Haynes marched with his troops towards Roxbury. After the Northern War campaign, Haynes then returned to Massachusetts to work on the farm. Her life’s work didn’t end on the battlefield, however, he himself learned to read and write, eventually entering the ministry. Haynes was fiercely against slavery and believed in the harmonious integration of races. Haynes also has the distinction of becoming not only the first black pastor in a white church, but he was also the first black man to receive a graduate degree (albeit an honorary) from Middlebury College.

Haynes was one of 5,000 African soldiers, both slave and freed, who fought in the War of Independence. His legacy has remained intact through his many essays, some concerning freedom for Africans, and the sermons that have been published. America was slow to recognize the Black Revolutionary Soldiers, although some progress has been made in publicizing them. Today, African Americans in the military are few and far between, accounting for only 13% of the force in the most recent data. Yet the contribution of black soldiers over the years has been simply significant, and the Minutemen of Color show and prove how vital we were in the struggle for freedom yesterday and today.

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