• Slaves and the Revolutionary War

    Black people first began coming to America in the 1600s, as slaves for plantation owners who had come from Spain and England. These Africans helped build the country in those early days, yet they’re rarely mentioned.


    Fun Facts

    • During the 1700s, American colonists were getting tired of Britain’s rule over them. They were tired of heavy taxes and soldiers staying in their houses. They wanted their independence.
    • By the time the Revolutionary War began, more than 450,000 black people lived in America, both slaves and free.
    • The British promised freedom to any slave who helped them fight. The slaves wanted their freedom just as much as the colonists wanted to be free from British rule. Thousands of them joined the British troops.
    • George Washington didn’t allow black people in his army. He was afraid they might use their weapons against their former owners. But later, after Washington had lost many soldiers, he changed his mind. Many black men signed up to fight with the colonists then.
    • The war finally ended. The British no longer could control or tax the colonists and their property. But slaves were still considered property in most situations. Slaves in New England states like Massachusetts were set free because these states abolished slavery. Black men who had fought for Washington during the war were also set free.
    • The rest were stuck. Some went to Canada and some went to Britain. Most became slaves again.
    • When the Constitution was written, the slaves hoped they would finally be freed. They were once again disappointed.


    Questions and Answers

    Question: Why didn’t leaders free the slaves after the Revolutionary War?

    Answer: It’s a complicated answer, but greed is at its heart. Slave labor was needed to sustain plantations and build homes, roads, and businesses. Wealthy men would have to change their way of living if slaves were set free.


    Learn More

    Read more about slaves during the Revolutionary War.


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Tobin, Declan. (2024). Facts for Kids about Slavery During the Revolutionary War. American History for Kids. Retrieved from https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/slaves-and-the-revolutionary-war/

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