Black soldiers of the American Revolution? Not a credible statement in light of what most Americans have read about the Revolutionary War. We have heard of Casimir Pulaski the Pole, Marquis de Lafayette the Frenchman, and Baron von Steuben the German, but not black participants. Yet, close to 5,000 blacks did ﬁght in the war against the British, and others served as laborers, spies, and guides. The absence in our general histories of their activities in this struggle lies with the misconception that the Afro-American has contributed little or nothing towards the creation of the United States and its subsequent development, for in most studies made of the Revolutionary era, there has been little impulse to search for evidences of service by blacks, except perhaps to note the existence of slavery. Histories of Connecticut have generally treated the Revolution in a similar manner. Few of them have acknowledged the contributions of the black soldier. This is partially true because the story of Connecticut's black participant is one about the regular foot soldier in the Revolution and not about the men who led him into battle or the political leaders who guided the nation. And it is these men who most often fill the pages of our history books.
As one phase of the Bicentennial observation, The American Revolution Bicentennial Commission of Connecticut has authorized scholars in a wide range of study to write a series of monographs on the broadly defined Revolutionary Era of 1763 to 1787. These monographs [appeared] yearly beginning in 1973 through 1980. Emphasis is placed upon the birth of the nation, rather than on the winning of independence on the field of battle.
David White was born in Philadelphia. He received his B.A. from Glassboro State College in 1969, and a M.A. in history from the University of Connecticut in 1970. He is a special assistant with the Connecticut Historical Commission directing a program on Black History in Connection with the Prudence Crandall House, Canterbury, Connecticut.