Estimates have appeared in print for generations that 3,000 to 5,000 Black soldiers served in the American military in the Revolution.
For centuries, many towns failed to acknowledge the contributions of Black soldiers in the War of Independence. Only in 2021 were Jamestown slaves first identified by public historian Peter Fay and honored by the town. They had been sold to the rebel government and promised their freedom for serving.
The introduction of African bondage was a transformative experience that lasted over a span of four centuries and shaped the settlement, economic, religious and cultural growth of the Western Hemisphere.
In late 1779 Newport’s black residents, free or enslaved, faced a predicament: should they stay or should they go? Should they choose freedom but risk an uncertain future under British protection, or should they stay enslaved in wartime Rhode Island?
A Fight for Freedom and Dignity: The Recruitment, Service , and Legacy of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment
The attempted formation of a regiment of soldiers composed entirely of enslaved men who had enlisted to earn them their freedom.