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Black Americans in the Revolutionary War

75 Court Street
Plymouth, MA 02360
(508) 746-1620


Cato Howe (1750-1824)
[Negroes should not have to pay taxes, since they have] no voice or influence in the election of those who tax us

Petition to the Massachusetts legislature in 1780
from Paul Cuffe, a free black shipbuilder of Dartmouth, Massachusetts

Many Black Americans fought in the Revolution, on both sides, to win their personal freedom. Several wealthy merchants and gentlemen in the Plymouth area kept one or two slaves as house servants. With enlistment quotas for each town, some men found it easier to arrange for a slave to go in their place. Some states, like Rhode Island, automatically freed slaves when they passed muster. Massachusetts, in 1780, became the first state to outlaw slavery altogether.

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18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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