African Americans in the American Revolution: Black History Month, Part 7

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Episode Description:
Enslaved African Americans faced difficult choices at the start of the Revolutionary War. The British royal governor of Virginia promised them freedom, and many joined the Loyalist cause. Up to 100,000 others fled across British lines. And yet about 5,000 served as soldiers in the Continental Army, serving valiantly. We'll learn some of their stories on today's podcast.

Script for African Americans in the American Revolution: Black History Month, Part 7

60-Second Civics, Episode 4249: February 7, 2021

African Americans in the American Revolution: Black History Month, Part 7




African Americans faced a difficult choice at the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775.


Enslaved men and women calculated their chances that the British would give them their freedom.


In fact, Virginia's royal governor promised freedom to any slave held by rebels who joined the British cause.


Thomas Peters escaped slavery, served in the British army, and later organized about 1,200 African Americans to found a settlement in Freetown, Sierra Leone.


Up to 100,00 enslaved men and women fled to the British, some eventually escaping to Britain or Canada.


George Washington originally did not allow African Americans to serve in the Continental Army, but changed his mind when he had trouble recruiting enough troops.


Some 5,000 African Americans eventually served as soldiers for the Patriots, about 5% of the total force.


And they served well.


James Lafayette posed as a runaway slave to serve as a spy against the British, helping win the Battle of Yorktown by providing valuable intelligence.


The First Rhode Island Regiment recruited enslaved African Americans, promising them their freedom, and many of these Patriot troops would fight in the Battle of Yorktown, which won the war.


This has been 60-Second Civics, where civic education only takes a minute. 


60-Second Civics is a podcast of the Center for Civic Education. 


My name is Mark Gage.



Copyright Center for Civic Education. 

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