The history of American Revolution; that is how the original colonies fought for freedom and broke ranks with the Britain and formed a new nation called the United States of America is well documented and widely known. However, what the African American thought and felt about it is less known. Moreover, their role in the revolution is even lesser known or at least ignored. This paper seeks to establish the blacks’ as well as the whites’ perception of the Revolution, the reality in relation to the ideas and ideals of freedom and to raise a case based on the revolution against slavery.
During the war of independence, blacks as well as the whites had to make hard choices. Whites supported the revolutionary cause or were against it based on their interest. Some supported the revolution as they sought more freedom from the British while some were against it as they felt strained relation with Britain would hurt their economic interests. On the other hand, the greatest motivation for the blacks joining either side of the revolution was freedom. According to Woody Holton (128), “Blacks joined either the patriots or the British Army depending on which side seemed to further their goal of attaining freedom.” Blacks are noted to have enlisted more quickly than the whites in search of freedom.
Before the revolution, many black Americans supported the cause against the British. Even during the revolution more blacks were enlisted on the Patriots Cause that on the British one. They felt that they shared the same ideals with patriots since they were fighting for freedom too. In patriots, they saw a realistic avenue for freedom in their lifetime since a majority of them was slaves. It is documented that Crispus Attucks; a black man was the first one to be shot dead by the British shot Crispus Attucks during the Boston Massacre in 1770.
Blacks in the War of Independence other than as a soldier also served as a guide: There was some terrain that the blacks understood better than the Whites and blacks served as reliable guides through the countryside. Secondly, they proved to be very efficient spies.
In consideration that blacks were comprised of both slaves and free persons. It is important to note that some blacks also joined either side for another different reason other than the cause of freedom. Such as the desire for adventure, to explore the countryside in search of a new better life, secondly, some wanted a chance to join other works other than the mundane jobs they were used to as slaves. Moreover, others were motivated by the likelihood of receiving a bounty when the war was over.
After the revolution, the blacks were hit by a completely different reality. Woody Holton (158) notes that, "The ideals of freedom which they clung to, fought for, suffered for and died for borne a big disappointment." Slavery at its best continued as if nothing had happened. The war of independence brought freedom to the white men but ignored their fellow black men.
Blacks sacrificed so heavily for the cause of freedom. Some might have been in the wrong side of the cause and history, but they died, were tortured for the sake of that great ideal. Some free blacks went even to the extent of selling their property to raise funds for either cause. Such sacrifices and commitment deserved to be repaid by complete abolition of slavery when the revolution was complete and successful. It was immoral to continue enslaving fellow men who died alongside you in a cause on the basis of color.
Hoston, Woody. Americans in the Revolutionary Era: A Brief History with Documents (The Bedford Series in History and Culture). Bedford: St.Martins. 2009. Print.