Black Involvement In The Revolutionary War Argumentative Essay Sample
With voices of freedom and liberty ringing loud throughout the Revolutionary War time period, many African Americans seized this opportunity in hopes of gaining their freedom. Of course, slavery was in effect during the 1770’s, and though the Declaration of Independence was written on the foundation of personal liberty, an odd disconnect between its main message and African Americans existed. What the African American involvement in the Revolutionary War shows is a startling contradiction between what the early Revolutionaries fought for and their treatment of slaves. Furthermore, African American involvement did very little to improve their life economically, politically, or socially.
As war was looming between America and Britain, the issue of the slaves had the potential to swing the war one way or the other. Approximately 20% of the total population of the colonies consisted of slaves in 1775, which was around 450,000 people. With that large of a potential fighting group, appealing to the African Americans would make chances of winning a lot greater. Because of this, African Americans had tough choices and their hands whether or not to remain loyal to the British or join the rebellion. Naturally, the slaves would hold out and decide with side offered them the most.
African Americans ended up fighting on both sides during the Revolutionary War. Initially, the British offered slaves their freedom if they enlisted, as the colonies originally only let free blacks join. This was especially true in the Dunmore Proclamation. John Murray, Earl of Dunmore and governor of Virginia, issued a decree in 1775 that any slaves to join his army would be freed after serving. This proclamation enraged colonists, as an estimated 800 slaves joined his cause. This move created a lot of controversy among colonists and regardless of the Dunmore proclamation, both sides were equally uneasy about arming slaves, fearing a rebellion could take place. This would all change, as the Continental Army faced a shortage of troops. Finally, the colonists had no choice, and in 1777 George Washington rescinded his order about excluding black soldiers from enlisting in the army. After this happened, both the colonists and the British were actively recruiting blacks to join their forces.
The ultimate result of the African American involvement in the Revolutionary War was not one of progress. Although both sides made promises of freedom and were eager to let blacks join the fighting, after the war ended, life did not improve for African Americans. Those slaves who had joined forces with the British army lost their freedom they had been promised, as they lost the war. Many were returned to their masters, while others ended up in slavery in other places, especially the Caribbean. The political effect on African Americans was probably the most disappointing aspect of the Revolutionary War. The promises of individual liberty and freedom were not granted to the slaves upon the conclusion of the war. Despite the fact they fought right along with whites in the Continental Army, upon its conclusion, they were not granted any constitutional rights, as the right to own slaves even appeared in the constitutional written in 1787. It is true that some slaves were freed and had a chance to live a better life, but for the majority, this was not the case. The Revolutionary War was viewed in a hypocritical manor by most in the African American community.
"The Revolutionary War." Africans in America. Accessed January 8, 2015. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part2/2narr4.html.
Nelson, Tina. "Fighting for Whose Freedom? Black Soldiers in the Revolution." University of Maryland-Baltimore. Accessed January 8, 2015. http://www.umbc.edu/che/tahlessons/pdf/Fighting_for_Whose_Freedom_PF.pdf.
Aguilar, Stephanie. "Comparative Slave Rebellions Winter 2011." University of California-Irvine. February 1, 2011. Accessed January 8, 2015. http://sites.uci.edu/slaverebellionswinter2011/african-american-solidiers-and-the-american-revolution/.
"Dunmore's Proclamation: A Time to Choose." History.org: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's Official History and Citizenship Website. Accessed January 8, 2015. http://www.history.org/Almanack/people/african/aadunpro.cfm.
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