How did African Americans participate in the Revolutionary War? How did their actions reflect a desire to enjoy their natural rights?
- I can connect actions taken by African Americans during the Revolutionary War to an understanding of natural rights of equality and justice.
- I can summarize the main ideas of historical text.
- I can create an argument supported by evidence from primary sources.
General Sir Henry Clinton, the supreme commander of the British Army fighting in the colonies, issued the following proclamation from his headquarters in New York. Clinton was not as desperate for recruits as Lord Dunmore, but still saw the value of undermining the economy and war effort of American Patriots.
The Phillipsburg Proclamation, 1779
“By his excellency Sir HENRY CLINTON, K.B. General and Commander-in-Chief of all his Majesty’s Forces within the Colonies laying on the Atlantic Ocean, from Nova Scotia to West Florida, inclusive, &c., &c., &c.
Whereas the enemy have adopted a practice of enrolling NEGROES among their Troops, I do hereby give notice That all NEGROES taken in arms, or upon any military Duty, shall be purchased for the public service at a stated Price; the money to be paid to the Captors.
But I do most strictly forbid any Person to sell or claim Right over any NEGROE, the property of a Rebel (Patriot fighting the British), who may take Refuge with any part of this Army; And I do promise to every NEGROE who shall desert the Rebel Standard (Patriot flag or side of the fight), full security to follow within these Lines, any Occupation he shall think proper…
Given under my Hand, at Head-quarters, Phillipsburgh, the 30th of June, 1779.
Comprehension and Analysis Questions
- According to this document, what had the Patriot Army allowed by 1779?
- What will happen to an African American serving in the Patriot (Rebel) Army, if captured? What does this proclamation promise to African Americans? What evidence does this document provide about the role of African Americans in the Revolutionary War?
- Does this document provide any evidence of an understanding of natural rights by the author or its intended audience? Explain.
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Joseph Plumb Martin of Connecticut eagerly joined the cause of the Revolution in 1776 at the age of fifteen years. He served in the Continental Army for almost seven years, keeping detailed diaries of his experiences.
Was the Revolutionary War America’s First Civil War?
As an American in the 21st century, it’s incredibly easy to look back on the Revolutionary War and joke about the "redcoats," but would you really have been a patriot if you lived at that time? In a special episode of Fabric of History, Mary is joined by Dr. Rebecca Brannon, Associate Professor of History and Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and author of "From Revolution to Reunion: The Reintegration of the South Carolina Loyalists," to take a closer look at the reasons why people chose to side as patriots or loyalists, or why they may have decided to walk the challenging tightrope of neutrality. What are some examples of regular citizens navigating this difficult time, and what happened to them after the Revolution? What unique challenges did the Revolution pose for minorities and women?