WARS OF 1776 AND 1812.
WILLIAM C. NELL.
PUBLISHED BY ROBERT F. WALLCUT,
No. 21 Coruhill.
WARS OF 1776 AND 1812.
WILLIAM C. NELL.
PUBLISHED BY ROBERT F. WALLCUT,
No. 21 Cornhill.
Entered according to an Act of Congress, in the year 1852,
By WILLIAM 0. NELL,
in the Clerk's Office of the District (;ourt of the District of Massachusetts.
power press of prentiss axd sawyer,
No. 11 Devonshire Street.
The following pages are an effort to stem the tide of prejudice against
the Colored race. The white man despises the Colored man, and has come
to tliink him fit only for the menial drudgeiy to which the majority of the
race has been so long doomed. " Tliis prejudice was never reasoned up and
will never be reasoned down." It must be lived doicn. In a land where
wealth is the basis of reputation, the Colored man must prove his sagacity
and enterprise by successful trade or speculation. To shoAV his capacity for
mental culture he must be, not merely claim the right to be, a scholar. Pro-
fessional eminence is peculiarly the residt of practice and long experience.
The Colored people, therefore, ov.-e it to each other and to their race to ex-
tend liberal encouragement to Colored lawyers, physicians, and teachers —
as well as to mechanics and artisans of all kinds. Let no individual despaii*.
Not to name the living, let me hold up the example of one whose career
deserves to be often spoken of, as complete proof that a Colored man can
rise to social resjDCct and the highest employment and usefulness, in spite
not only of the prejudice that crushes his race, but of the heaviest personal
burdens. Dr. David Ruggles, poor, blind, and an invalid, founded a well
known Water Cure Establishment in the town where I wa'ite, erected ex-
pensive buildings, won honorable distinction as a most successful and skilful
practitioner, secured the warm regard and esteem of this community, and
left a name embalmed m the hearts of many who feel that they owe life to
his eminent skill and careful practice. Black though he was, his aid was
sought sometimes by those numbered among the Pro-Slavery class. To be
sure, liis is but a single instance, and I know it requu-cd pre-eminent ability
to make a way up to light through the overwhelming mass of prejudice and
contempt. But it is these rare cases of strong will and eminent endowment,
— always sure to make the world feel them whether it will or no, — that
will finally wring from a contemptuous community the reluctant confession
of the Colored man's equality.
I ask, therefore, the reader's patronage of the following sheets on several
grounds ; first, as an encouragement to the author, Mr. Nell, to pursue a
subject wluch Avell deserves illustration on other points beside those on
which he has labored ; secondly, to scatter broadly as possible, the facts
here collected, as instances of the Colored man's success — a record of the
genius he has shov,-n, and the services he has rendered society in the higher
departments of exertion ; thirdly, to encourage such men as Eugglks to
jjerseverance, by showing a generous appreciation of their labors and a
cordial sympathy in their trials.
Some things set down here go to prove Colored men patriotic — though
denied a country : — and all show a wish, on their part, to prove themselves
men, in a land whose laws refuse to recognise their manhood. If the reader
shall, sometimes, blush to find that in the days of our country's weakness,
we remembered their power to help or harm us, and availed ourselves gladly
of their generous services, wliile we have, since, used our strength only to
crush them the more completely, let him resolve henceforth to do them jus-
tice himself and claim it for them of others. If any shall be convinced by
these facts, that they need only a free path to show the same capacity and
reap the same rewards as other races, let such labor to open every door to
their eiTorts, and hasten the day when to be black shall not, almost necessa-
rily, doom a man to poverty and the most menial drudgery. There is
toucliing eloquence, as well as something of Spartan brevity, ui the appeal of
a v,'cll known Colored man, Eev. Peter "Williams, of New York : —
<'We are natives of this country: we ask only to be treated as well as
roiiEiGXEiis. Not a few of our fathers suffered and bled to purchase its in-
deoendence ; wc ask only to be treated as well as those who fought against
it. We have toiled to cultivate it, and to raise it to its present prosperous
condition ; -^^e ask only to share equal privileges with those who come from
distant lands to enjoj' the fruits of our labor."
NoKTHAMPTOX, Oct. 25, 1852.
In the mouth of July, 1847, the eloquent Bard of Freedom, John G.
Whittier, contributed to the National Era a statement of facts relative
to the Military Services of Colored Americans in the Revolution of 1776,
and the War of 1812. Being a member of the Society of Friends, he
disclaimed any eulogy upon the shedding of blood, even in the cause of
acknowledged Justice, but, says he, " when we see a whole nation doing
honor to the memories of one class of its defenders, to the total neglect of
another class, who had the misfortune to be of darker comx^lexion, w^e can-
not forego the satisfaction of inviting notice to certain historical facts, which,
for the last half century, have been qiuetly elbowed aside, as no more deserv-
ing of a place in patriotic recollection, than the descendants of the men, to
whom the facts in question relate, have to a place in a Fourth of July pro-
cession, [in the nation's estimation.]
" Of the sei-vices and suffermgs of the Colored Soldiers of the Revolution,
no attempt has, to our knowledge, been made to preserve a record. They
have had no historian. With here and there an exception, they have all
passed away, and only some faint traditions linger among their descendants.
Yet enough is knoA^m to show that the Free Colored men of the United
States bore their full proportion of the sacrifices and trials of the Revolu-
In my attempt, then, to rescue from oblivion tiio name and fame of those
Avho, though " tinged with the hated stain," yet had wai-m hearts and active
hands in the "times that tried men's souls," I wiU first gratefully tender
him my thanks for the service liis compilation has afforded me, and my ac-
knowledgments also to other individuals who have kmdly contributed facts
for this pamphlet. Imperfect as these pages may j^rove, to prepare even
these, journeys have been made to confer with the living, and even jiilgrim-
ages to grave-yards, to save all that may stiU be gleaned from their fast
There are those w^ho will ask, why make a parade of the viilltary ser\aces of
Colored Americans, mstead of recording then- attention to and progress in the
various other departments of civil, social, and political 'elevation ? To this
let me answer, that I yield to no one in aiipreciating the propriety and jDerti-
iiency of evcri/ elTort, on the part of Colored Americans, iu all pxir-
suits, wliich, as members of the human family, it becomes them to share
in ; and, among those, my predilections are least and last for what consti-
tutes the pomp and cii-cumstance of War.
Did -the limits of tliis work permit, I could furnish an elaborate list of
those who have distinguished themselves as Teachers, Editors, Orators, Me-
chanics, Clergymen, Artists, Farmers, Poets, Lawyers, Physicians, Mer-
chants, etc., to whose perennial fame be it recorded, that most of their
attainments were reached through difficvdties unknoAvn to any but tliose
whose sin is the curl of the hair and line of the skin.
There is now an institution of learning in the State of New York, Central
College, which recently employed, as Professor of Belles Lettres, a young
Colored man, Chakles L. Reason, and who, on resigning his chair, dropped
his mantle gracefully upon the shoulders of "William G. Allex, another
Colored young man as Avorthy for scholastic abilities and gentlemanly
These men, as Teachers, especially in Colleges open to all, irrespective of
accidental cUflerences, are domg a mighty work in uprooting prejudice.
The influences thus generated are already felt. Many a young white man
or woman who, in early life, has imbibed wrong notions of the Colored
man's inferiority, is taught a new lesson by the Colored Professors at
McGra-\v"ville ; and they leave its honored walls with thanksgiving in their
hearts for their conversion from Pro-Slavery Heathenism to the Gospel of
Christian Freedom ; and are thus prepared to go forth as Pioneers in the
cause of Human Brotherhood.
But the Orator's A'oice and Author's pen have both been eloquent in
detailing the merits of Colored Americans in these various ramitications of
society, while a combination of circumstances have veiled from the public
eye a narration of those military services which are generally conceded as
passports to the honorable and lasting notice of Americans.
Boston, May, 1851.
SERVICES OF COLORED AMERICANS.
Ox the fifth of March, 1851, a petition was presented to the Massa-
chusetts Legislature, asking an appropriation of $1,500 for erecting a
monument to the memory of Crispus x^ttucks, the first martyr in the
Boston Massacre, of iMarch 5th, 1770. The matter was referred to
the Committee on Military Affliirs, who granted a hearing of the peti-
tioners, in whose behalf appeared Wendell Phillips, Esq. and Wm.
C. Nell, hut finally submitted an adverse report, on the gi-ound that
a boy, Christopher Snyder, was previously killed. Admitting this
fact, (which was the result of a very different scene from that in which
Attucks fell,) does not offset the claims of Attucks, and those who
made the fifth of March famous in our annals — the day which history
selects as the dawn of the American Ee volution.
Botta's History, and Hewes's Reminiscences (the tea-party survivor)
establishes the fact that the colored man, Attucks, was of and with the
people, and was never regarded otherwise.
Botta, in speaking of the scenes of the fifth of March, says : " The
people were greatly exasperated. The multitude, armed with clubs,
ran towards King Street, crying, ' Let us drive out these ribalds ;
they have no business here ! ' The rioters rushed furiously towards
the Custom House ; they approached the sentinel, crying, ' Kill him,
kill him ! ' They assaulted him with snowballs, pieces of ice, and
whatever they could lay their hands upon." The guard were then
called, and, in marching to the Custom House, " they encountered,"
continues Botta, " a band of the populace, led by a mulatto named
Attucks, who brandished their clubs, and pelted them with snowballs.
8 SERVICES OF COLOIIED AMERICANS.
The maledictions, the imprecations, the execrations of the multitude,
were horrible. In the midst of a torrent of invectives from every
quarter, the military were challenged to fire. The populace advanced
to the points of their bayonets. The soldiers appeared like statues ;
the cries, the bowlings, the menaces, the violent din of bells still
sounding the alarm, increased the confusion and the horrors of these
moments ; at length the mulatto and twelve of his companions, pressing
forward, environed the soldiers, and striking their muskets with their
clubs, cried to the multitude : ' Be not afraid, they dare not fire ;
why do you hesitate, why do you not hill them, tohy not crush them at
once ! ' The mulatto lifted his arm against Captain Preston, and
having turned one of the muskets, he seized the bayonet with his left
hand, as if he intended to execute his threat. At this moment, con-
fused cries were heard : ' The loretches dare not fire ! ' Firing suc-
ceeds. Attucks is slain. The other discharges follow. Three were
killed, five severely wounded, and several others slightly."
Attucks was killed by Montgomery, one of Captain Preston's
soldiers. He had been foremost in resistmg, and was first slain ; as
proof of front and close engagement, received two balls, one in each
John Adams, counsel for the soldiers, admitted that Attucks
appeared to have undertaken to be the Hero of the night, and to lead
the army- with banners. He and Caldwell, not being residents of
Boston, were both buried from Faneuil Hall. The citizens generally
participated in the funeral solemnities.
The Boston Transcript, of March 7, 1851, published an anonymous
correspondence disparaging the whole affair; denouncing Crispus
Attucks as a very firebrand of disorder and sedition, the most con-
spicuous, inflammatory, and uproarious of the misgTiided populace, and
who, if he had not fallen a martyr, would richly have deserved hanging
as an incendiary. If the leader, Attucks, deserved the epithets above
applied, is it not a legitimate inference that the citizens who followed
on are included, and hence, should swing in his company on the gaUows ?
If the leader and his patriot band were onisguided, the distinguished
orators who, in after days, commemorated the fifth of March, must,
indeed, have been misguided, and with them the masses who were
inspired by then* eloquence ; for John Hancock, m 1774, invokes the
injured shades of MavericTc, Gray, Oaldivell, Attucks, Carr.
And Judge Dawes, in 1775, thus alludes to the band of misguided
incendiaries. "The provocation of that night must be numbered
SERVICES OF COLORED AMERICANS. 9
among tlie master springs wliicli gave the fii'st motion to a vast ma-
chinery a noble and comprehensive system of national independence."
Ramsay's History of the American Revolution, Vol. I., p. 22, adds,
" The anniversary of the 5th of March was observed with great so-
lemnity ; eloquent orators were successively employed to preserve the
remembrance of it fresh in the mind. On these occasions the blessings
of liberty — the horrors of Slavery, and the danger of a standing
army were presented to the public view. These annual orations ad-
ministered fuel to the fire of libei-ty, and kept it burning with an
The 5th of March continued to be celebrated for the above reasons,
until the Declaration of American Independence was substituted in its
place, and its orators were expected to consider the feelings, manners,
and principles of the former as giving birth to the latter.
In judging, then, of the merits of those who launched the American
Revolution, we should not take counsel from the Tories of that or the
present day, but rather heed the approving eulogy of Lovell, Han-
cock, and Warren.
Welcome, then, be every taunt that such correspondents have flung
at Attucks and his company, as the best evidence of their merits and
strongest claim on our gratitude. Envy and the foe do not labor to
abuse any but prominent champions of a cause.
The rejection of this petition was to be expected, if we accept the
axiom that a Colored man never gets Justice done him in the United
States, except by mistake. The petitioners only asked for that Justice,
and that the name of Crispus Attucks be surrounded with the same
emblems constantly appropriated by a grateful country to other gaUant
And yet let it be recorded that the same session of the Legislature
which had refused the Attucks monument, granted one to Isaac
Davis, of Concord, — both were promoters of the American revolution ;
but one was white, the other black — and this fact is the only solution
to the problem why Justice was not meted out.
Extract from the Speech of Hon. Anson Borlingame, in Faneuil
HaU, October 13, 1852, when alluding to the volunteer participa-
tion of Boston officials in returning Thomas Sims to bondage, in
AprH, 1851: —
" The conquering of our New England prejudices in favor of liberty,
10 SERVICES OF COLOBED AMERICANS.
' does not pay.' It ' does not pay,' I submit, to put our fellow citi-
zens under practical martial law ; to beat the drum in our streets ; to
clothe our temples of justice in chains, and to creep along, by the light
of the morning star, over the ground wet with the blood of Crispus
Attucks, the noble Colored man, who fell in King Street, before the
muskets of tyranny, away in the dawn of our Revolution ; creep by
Faneuil Hall, silent and dark ; by the Green Dragon, where that
noble mechanic, Paul Revere, once mustered the sons of liberty ;
within sight of Prospect Hill, where was first unfm-led the glorious
banner of our country ; creep along, with funeral pace, bearing a
brother, a man made in the image of his God," not to the grave — oh,
that were merciful, for in the grave there is no work and no device,
and the voice of a master never comes — but back to the deoradation
of a Slavery which kills out of a living body an inmiortal soul. (Great
sensation.) Oh ! where is the man now who took part in that mourn-
ful transaction, who would wish, looking back upon it, to avow it."
During the Revolutionary War, public opinion was so strongly in favor
of the abolition of Slavery, that, in some of the country towns, votes were
passed in town meetings that they would have no Slaves among them ;
and that they would not exact, of masters, any bonds for the mainte-
nance of liberated blacks, should they become incapable of supporting
themselves. A liberty-loving antiquarian copied the following from
the Suffolk Probate Record, and published it in the Liberator, of
"Know all men by these presents, that I, Jonathan Jackson, of
Newburyport, in the county of Essex, gentleman, in consideration of
the impropriety I feel, and have long felt, in beholding any person in
constant bondage, — more especially at a time when my country is so
warmly contending for the liberty every man ought to enjoy, — and
having sometime since promised my negro man, Pomp, that I would
give him his freedom, — and in further consideration of five shillings,
paid me by said Pomp, I do hereby liberate, manumit, and set him
free ; and I do hereby remise and release unto said Pomp, all demands
of whatever nature I have against said Pomp.
" In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal, this
nineteenth June, 1776.
" Jonathan Jackson. [Seal.]
" Witness, Mary Coburn, Wm. Noyes."
SERVICES OF COLORED AMERICANS. 11
It only remains to say a word respecting the two parties of the forc-
Jonathan Jackson, of Newburyport, we well remember to have
heard spoken of, in our boyish days, by honored lips, as a most upright
and thorough gentleman of the old school, possessing talents and char-
acter of the first standing. He was the first Collector of the Port of
Boston, under Washington's administration, and was Treasurer of the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts for many years, and died in 1810.
A tribute to his memory and his worth, said to be from the pen of the
late John Lowell, appeared in the Columbian Centinel, March 10,
1810. His immediate descendants have long resided in this city, are
extensively known, and as widely and justly honored.
Pomp took the name of his late master, upon his emancipation, and
soon after, enlisted in the army, as Pomp Jackson, served through the
whole war of the revolution, and obtained an honorable discharge at
its termination. He afterwards settled in Andover, near a pond,
still known as " Pomp's Pond," where some of his descendants
yet live. In this case of emancipation, it appears, instead of " cutting
his master's throat," he only slashed the throats of his country's
The late Governor Eustis, of Massachusetts, the pride and boast of
the democracy of the East, himself an active participant in the War,
and therefore a most competent witness, states that the Free Colored
Soldiers entered the ranks with the whites. The time of those who
were Slaves was purchased of their masters, and they were induced to
enter the service in consequence of a law of Congress, by which, on
condition of their serving in the ranks during the War, they were made
Freemen. This hope of Liberty inspired them with courage to oppose
theu- breasts to the Hessian bayonet at Red Bank, and enabled them
to endure with fortitude the cold and famine of Valley Forge.
Seymour Burr was a Slave in Connecticut, to a brother of Col.
Aaron Burr, from whom he derived his name. Though treated with
much favor by his master, his heart yearned for liberty, and he seized
an occasion to induce several of his fellow servants to escape in a boat,
intending to join the British, that they might become Freemen ; but
being pursued by their owners, armed with implements of death,
they were compelled to surrender.
Burr's master, contrary to his expectation, did not inflict corporal
punishment, but reminded him of the kindness with which he had
12 SERVICES OF COLORED AMERICANS.
been treated, and asked what inducement he could have for leaving
him. Burr replied that he wanted his liberty. His owner finally
proposed, that if he would give him the bounty money, he might join
the American army, and at the end of the war be his own man. Buek,
willing to make any sacrifice for bis liberty, consented, and served
faithfully during the campaign, attached to the Seventh Eegiment,
commanded by Colonel, afterwards Governor Brooks, of Medford.
He was present at the siege of Fort Catskill, and endured much suffer-
ing from starvation and cold. After some skirmishing the army was
relieved by the arrival of Gen. Washington, who, as witnessed by
liim, shed tears of joy on finding them unexpectedly safe.
Burr married one of the Punkapog tribe of Indians, and settled in
Canton, Mass., where his widow now, aged one hundred and one
years, draws his pension.
Primus Hall, a native Bostonian, and long known to the citizens
as a soap-boiler, served in the revolutionary war, and used to enter-
tain the social circle with various anecdotes of his military experience ;
among them an instance, where being himself in possession of a blan-
ket, at a time when such a luxury had become scarce, Gen. Washing-
ton entered the tent, having appropriated his own bedding for the
worn-out soldiers, Hall immediately tendered his blanket for the
General, who replied, that he preferred sharing the privations with his
fellow soldiers, and accordingly Gen. Washington and Primus Hall
reposed for the night together.
Mr. Hall was among those Colored citizens who, in the war of
1812, repaired to Castle Island, in Boston harbor, to assist in building
fortifications. [See Appendix.]
Joshua B. Smith narrated to me " that he was present at a company
of distinguished Massachusetts men, when the conversation turned
upon the exploits of Revolutionary times ; and that the late Judge
Story related an instance of a Colored Artillerist who, while having
charge of a cannon with a white fellow soldier, was wounded in one
arm. He immediately turned to his comrade and proposed changing
his position, exclaiming that he had yet one arm left with which he
could render some service to his country. The change proved fatal to
the heroic soldier, for another shot from the enemy killed him upon the
spot. Judge Story furnished other incidents of the bravery and devo-
tion of Colored Soldiers, adding, that he had often thought them and
their descendants too much neglected, considering the part they had
sustained in the Wars ; and he regretted that he did not, in early life,
gather the facts into a shape for general information.
SERVICES OF COLORED AMERICANS. 13
At the close of the Revolutionary War, John Hancock presented
the Colored Soldiers, called the "Buck's of America," an appropriate
banner (bearing his initials) as a tribute to their courage and devotion
in the cause of American Liberty, through a protracted and bloody
struggle. This banner is now in the possession of Mrs. Kay, whose
father was a member of the company.
When a boy, hving in West Boston, I was familiar with the pres-
ence of " Big Dick," and of hearmg the following history confirmed.
It is not wholly out of place in this collection.
Big Dick. — Richard Sea vers, whose death in this city we lately
mentioned, was a man of mighty mould. A short time previous to his
death, he measured six feet five inches in height, and attracted much
attention when seen in the street. He was born in Salem or vicinity,
and, when about sixteen years old, went to England, wkere he entered
the British Navy. When the war of 1812 broke out, he would not
fight against his country, gave himself up as an American citizen, and
was made a prisoner of war.
A surgeon on board an American privateer, who experienced the
tender mercies of the British Government in Dartmoor prison, during
the War of 1812, makes honorable mention of King Dick, as he was
"There are about four hundred and fifty negroes in prison No. 4,
and this assemblage of blacks affords many cuiious anecdotes, and
much matter for speculation. These blacks have a ruler among them
whom they call Mng Dick. He is by far the largest, and I suspect
the strongest man in the prison. He is six feet five inches in height,
and proportionably large. This black Hercules commands respect,
and his subjects tremble in his presence. He goes the rounds every
day, and visits every berth to see if they are all kept clean. When
he goes the rounds, he puts on a large bearskin cap, and carries in his
hand a huge club. If any of his men are dirty, drunken, or grossly
negligent, he threatens them with a beating ; and if they are saucy,
they are sure to receive one. They have several times conspu-ed
against him, and attempted to dethrone him, but he has always con-
quered the rebels. One night several attacked him while asleep in his
hammock ; he sprang up and seized the smallest of them by his feet,
and thumped another with him. The poor negro who had thus been
made a beetle of, was carried next day to the hospital, sadly bruised,
14 SERVICES OF COLORED AMERICANS.
and provokiugly laughed at. This ruler of the blacks, this king
Richard IV. is a man of good understanding, and he exercises it to a
good purpose. If any one of his color cheats, defrauds, or steals from
his comrades, he is sure to be punished for it." — Boston Patriot.
The Hon. Tristam Burgess, of Rhode Island, in a speech in Con-
gress, first month, 1828, said : "At the commencement of the Revo-
lutionary War, Rhode Island had a number of Slaves. A regiment of
them were enlisted into the Continental service, and no braver men
met the enemy in battle ; but not one of them was permitted to be a
soldier until he had first been made a freeman."
" In Rhode Island," says Governor Eustis, in his able speech against
Slavery in Missouri, 12th of twelfth month, 1820, ''the blacks formed
an entire regiment, and they discharged then' duty with zeal and fidel-
ity. The gallant defence of Red Bank, in which the black regiment
bore a part, is among the proofs of then- valor." In this contest it will
be recollected that four hundred men met and repulsed, after a terrible
and sanguinary struggle, fifteen hundred Hessian troops, headed by
Count DoNOP. The glory of the defence of Red Bank, which has
been pronounced one of the most heroic actions of the War, belongs in
reality to black meu ; yet who now hears them spoken of in connection
with it ? Among the traits which distinguished the black regiment,
was devotion to their ofiiccrs. In the attack made upon the American
lines, near Croton river, on the 13th of fifth month, 1781, Colonel
Greene, the commander of the regiment, was cut down and mortally
wounded ; but the sabres of the enemy only reached him through the
bodies of his faithful guard of blacks, who hovered over him to protect
him, every one of lohom was hilled.
Lieutenant-Colonel Barton, of the Rhode Island militia, planned a
bold exploit for the purpose of surprising and taking Major-Geueral
Prescott, the commanding officer of the royal army at Newport.
Taking with him in the night about forty men, in two boats, with oars
SERVICES OF COLORED AMERICANS. 15
muffled, be Lad the address to elude the vigilance of the shijis of war and
guard boats, and baving arrived undiscovered at tbc General's quarters,
they were taken for tbe sentinels, and tbe General was not alarmed till
his captors were at the door of bis lodging chamber, which was fast
closed. A negro man named Prince instantly thrust bis bead through
tbe pannel door and seized tbe victim while in bed. The General's
aid-de-camp leaped from a window undressed, and attempted to escape,
but was taken, and with the General brought off in safety. — Timelier'' s
Military Journal, August 3, 1777.
Hon. Calvin Goddard, of Connecticut, states that in the little circle
of bis residence, he was instrumental in securing, under the Act of
1818, tbe pensions of nineteen Colored Soldiers. " I cannot," be
says, " refrain from mentioning one aged black man. Primus Babcock,
who proudly presented to me an honorable discbarge from service dur-
ing tbe war, dated at the close of it, wholly in the handwriting of
George Washington. Nor can I forget the expression of his feelings,
when informed, after his discbarge had been sent to the War Depart-
ment, that it could not be returned. At bis request it was written for,
as be seemed inclined to spurn the pension and reclaim tbe discharge."
There is a touching anecdote related of Baron Steuben, on the occasion
of the disbandment of tbe American army. A black soldier, with bis
wounds unhealed, utterly destitute, stood on tbe wharf just as a vessel
bound for a distant home was getting under weigh. The poor fellow
gazed at the vessel with tears in his eyes, and gave himself up to de-
spair. The warm-hearted foreigner witnessed bis emotion, and, inquir-
ing into the cause of it, took bis last dollar from bis purse, and gave it
to him with tears of sympathy trickling down his cheeks. Overwhelmed
with gratitude, tbe poor wounded soldier hailed the sloop, and was
received on board. As it moved out from the wharf, he cried back to
bis noble friend on shore, " God Almighty bless you, master Baron ! "
During tbe Revolutionary War, and after tbe sufferings of a pro-
SERTICES OF COLORED AMERICANS.
traeted contest had rendered it difficult to procure recruits for the army,
the Colony of Connecticut adopted the expedient of forming a corps of
Colored Soldiers. A battalion of blacks was soon enlisted, and
throughout the War conducted themselves with fidelity and efficiency.
The late General Humphreys, then a Captain, commanded a company
of this corps. It is said that some objections were made, on the part
of officers, to accepting the command of the Colored troops. In this
exigency, Capt. Humphreys, who was attached to the family of Greneral
Washington, volunteered his services. His patriotism was rewarded,
and his fellow officers were afterwards as desirous to obtain appoint-
ments in that corps as they had previously been to avoid them.
The following extract, furnished by Charles Lenox Kemond, from
the pay rolls of the second company fourth regiment of the Connec-
ticut line of the revolutionary army may rescue many gallant names
Caiptain, David Humphreys.
, SERVICES OF COLORED AMERICANS. • 17
Boston, 24th April, 1851.
Dear Friend Nell :
The names of the two brave men of Color who fell, with Ledyard,
at the storming of Fort Griswold, were Sambo Latham and Jordan
All the names of the slain, at tliat time, are inscribed on a marble
tablet, wrought into the monuraent — the names of the Colored Sol-
diers last — and not only last, but a blank space is left between them
and the whites — in genuine keeping with the " Negi'O Pew " distinc-
tion ; setting them not only below all others, but by themselves — even
And it is difficult to say why. They were not last in the fight. "V\Tien
Major Montgomery, one of the leaders in the expedition against the
Americans, was lifted upon the walls of the fort by his soldiers, flour-
ishing his sword and calling on them to follow him, Jordan Freeman
received him on the point of a pike, and pinned him dead to the earth.
[ Vide Hist. Collections of Connecticut.'] And the name of Jordan
Freeman stands away down, last on the list of the heroes, perhaps the
greatest hero of them all.
Yours, with becoming indignation,
Ebenezer Hills, died at Vienna, N. Y., August, 1849, aged 110.
Ho was born a Slave, in Stonington, Conn., and became free when
twenty-eight years of age. He served through the revolutionary war,
and was at the battles of Saratoga and Stillwater, and was present at
the surrender of Burgoyne.
The Colored inhabitants of Connecticut assembled in Convention in
1849, to devise means for their elective franchise, which is yet denied
to seven thousand of their number ; a gentleman present reports the
following extract : — "A young man, Mr. West, of Bridgeport, spoke
with a great deal of energy, and with a clear and pleasant tone of
voice, which many a lawyer, statesman, or clergyman might covet, nobly
vindicating the rights of the brethren. He said that the bones of the
Colored man had bleached on every battle-field where American valor
had contended for national independence. Side by side with the white
man, the black man stood and struggled to the last for the inheritance
which the white men now enjoy, but deny to us. His father was a
soldier Slave, and his master said to him when the liberty of the country
was achieved, ' Stephen, we will do something for you.' But what
18 SERVICES OF COLORED AMERICANS.
have they ever done for Stephen, or for Stephen's posterity ? This
orator is evidently a young man of high promise, and better capable
of voting intelligently than half of the white men who would deny
him a freeman's privilege."
The Kev. Dr. Harris, of Dunbarton, N. H., a revolutionary veteran,
stated in a speech at Francestown, N. H., some years ago, that on one
occasion the regiment to which he was attached was commanded to
defend an UBportant position which the enemy thrice assailed, and from
which they were as often repulsed. " There was," said the venerable
speaker, " a regiment of blacks in the same situation — a regiment of
negroes fighting for our liberty and independence, not a white man
among them but the officers — in the same dangerous and responsible
position. Had they been unfaithful, or given way before the enemy,
all would have been lost. Three times in succession were they attacked
with most desperate fury by well-disciplined and veteran troops, and
three times did they successfully repel the assault, and thus preserve
an army. They fought thus through the war. They were brave and
The anecdote of the Slave of General Sullivan, of New Hampshire,
is well known. When his master told him that they were on the point
of starting for the army, to fight for liberty, he shrewdly suggested
that it would be a great satisfaction to know that he was indeed going
to fight for his liberty. Struck with the reasonableness and justice of
this suggestion, Gen. S. at once gave hun his freedom.
Barnet, May 20, 1851.
Dear Sir :******
In August 16th, 1777, the Green Mountain Boys, aided by troops
from New Hampshire, and some few from Berkshire County, Massa-
chusetts, under the command of Gen. Starks, captured the left wing
SERVICES OF COLORED AMERICANS. 19
of tlie Britisli Army near Bennington. Soon as arrangements could
be made, after the prisoners were all collected, something more than
seven hundred, tlicy were tied to a rope, two and two, and one on each
side. Gen. Starks called for one more rope.
Mrs. Robinson, wife of Hon. Moses Robinson, said to the General,
I will take down the last bedstead in the house, and present the rope
to you, with one condition. ' When the prisoners are all tied to the
rope, you shall permit my negro man to harness up my old mare, and
hitch the rope to the whippletree, mount the mare, and conduct the
British and tory prisoners out of town. The General willingly accept-
ed of Mrs. Robinson's proposition. The negro mounted the mare,
and thus conducted the left wing of the British Army into Massachu-
setts, on their way to Boston. *****
Gen. Schuyler writes from Saratoga, July 23,' 1777, to the Presi-
dent of Massachusetts Bay, " That of the few continental troops we
have had to the Northward, one third part is composed of men too far
advanced in years for field service — of boys, or rather children, and
mortifying barely to mention, of negi'oes."
The General also addressed a similar letter to John Hancock, and
again to the provincial Congress, that the foregoing were facts which
were altogether uncontrovertible. * * * *
Your Humble Servant,
Dr. Clarke, in the Convention which revised the Constitution of
New York, in 1821, speaking of the Colored inhabitants of the State,
said : " My honorable colleague has told us that as the Colored people
are not required to contribute to the protection or defence of the State
they are not entitled to an equal participation in the privileges of its
citizens. But, Sir, whose fault is this ? Have they ever refused to do
military duty when called upon ? It is haughtily asked, who will stand
in the ranks shoulder to shoulder with a negro ? I answer, no one in
20 SERVICES OF COLORED AMERICANS.
time of peace ; no one when your musters and trainings are looked
upon as mere pastimes ; no one wlien your militia will shoulder tlieir
muskets and march to their trainings with as much unconcern as they
would go to a sumptuous entertainment or a splendid ball. But, Sir,
when the hour of danger approaches, your ' white ' militia are just as
willing that the man of Color should be set up as a mark to be shot at
by the enemy as to be set up themselves. ' In the War of the llevolu-
tion, these people helped to fight your battles by land and by sea.
Some of your States were glad to turn out corps of Colored men, and
to stand ' shoulder to shoulder ' with them.
" In your late War they contributed largely towards some of your
most splendid victories. On Lakes Erie and Champlain, where your
fleets triumphed over a foe superior in numbers and engines of death,
they were manned in a large proportion with men of Color. And in
this very house, in the fall of 1814, a bill passed, receiving the appro-
bation of all the branches of your Government, authorising the Gover-
nor to accept the services of a corps of two thousand free people of
Color. Sir, these were times which tried -men's souls. In these times
it was no sporting matter to bear arms. These were times when a man
who shouldered his musket did not know but he bared his bosom to
receive a death wound from the enemy ere he laid it aside ; and in
these times, these people were found as ready and as willing to volun-
teer in your service as any other. They were not compelled to go ;
they were not drafted. No ; your pride had placed them beyond youi-
compulsory power. But there was no necessity for its exercise ; they
were volunteers ; yes, Su", volunteers to defend that very country from
the inroads and ravages of a ruthless and vindictive foe, which had
treated them with insult, degi'adation, and Slavery."
Volunteers are the best of soldiers ; give me the men, whatever be
their complexion, that willingly volunteer, and not those who are com-
pelled to turn out. Such men do not fight from necessity, nor from
mercenary motives, but from principle.
Said jMartindale, of New York, in Congress, 22d of first month,
1828: "Slaves, or negroes who had been Slaves, were enlisted as
soldiers in the War of the Revolution ; and I myself saw a battalion
of them, as fine martial looking men as I ever saw, attached to the
northern army in the last War, on its march from Plattsburg to Sack-
It is believed that the debate on the military services of Colored
men was a prominent feature in granting them the right of suffrage,
SERVICES OF COLORED AMERICANS. 21
though the ungenerous deed must also be recorded, that Colored
citizens of the Empire State were made subject to a property qualifica-
tion of two hundred and fifty dollars.
Plutus must be highly esteemed where his rod can change even a
Negro into a man. If two hundred and fifty dollars will perform this
miracle, what would it require to elevate a monkey to the enviable
I am indebted to Eev. Theodore Parker, of Boston, for the following
Historical Sketch of New York Colored Soldiery : —
" Not long ago, while the excavations for the vaults of the great
retail dry goods store of New York were going on in 1851, a gentleman
from Boston noticed a large quantity of human bones thrown up by
the workmen. Everybody knows the African countenance : the skulls
also bore unmistakable marks of the race they belonged to. They
were shovelled up with the earth which they had rested in, carted off"
and emptied into the sea to fill up a chasm, and make the foundation
of a warehouse.
" On inquiry, the Bostouian learned that these were the bones of
Colored American soldiers, who fell in the disastrous battles of Long
Island, in 1776, and of such as died of the wounds then received. At
that day as at this, spite of the declaration that ' all men are created
equal/ the prejudice against the Colored man was intensely strong.
The black and the white had fought against the same enemy, under the
same banner, contendmg for the same ' unalienable right' to life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The same shot with promiscu-
ous slaughter had mowed down Africans and Americans. But in the
grave they must be divided. On the battle field the blacks and whites
had mixed their bravery and their blood, but their ashes must not
mingle in the bosom of then- common mother. The white Saxon, ex-
clusive and haughty even in his burial, must have his place of rest
proudly apart from the grave of the African he had once enslaved.
" Now, after seventy-five years have passed by, the bones of these
forgotten victims of the revolution are shovelled up by Irish laborers,
carted oflT. and shot into the sea, as the rubbish of the town. Had
they been white men's relics, how would they have been honored with
sumptuous burial anew, and the purchased prayers and ]3reaching of
Christian divines ! Now they are the rubbish of the street !
" True, they were the bones of revolutionary soldiers ; but they were
22 SERVICES OF COLORED AMERICANS.
black men ; and shall a city that kidnaps its citizens, honor a Negro
with a gi-ave ? What boots it that he fought for our freedom ; that He
bled for our liberty ; that he died for you and me ! Does the ' Nigger '
deserve a tomb ? Ask the American State — the American Church !
" Three quarters of a century hav6 passed by since the retreat from
Lono- Island. What a change since then ! From the Washington of
that day to the world's Washington of this, what a change ! In
America what alterations ! What a change in England ! The Briton
has emancipated every bondman ; Slavery no longer burns his soil oa
either Continent, the East or West. America has a population of
Slaves greater than the people of all England in the reign of Elizabeth.
Under the pavement of Broadway ; beneath the walls of the Bazaar,
there still lie the bones of the Colored martyrs to American 'Inde-
pendence. Dandies of either sex swarm gaily over the threshold,
heedless of the dead African — contemptuous of the living. And
while these faithful bones were getting shovelled up and carted to the
sea, there was a great Slave-hunt in New York : a man was kidnapped
and carried off to bondage, by the citizens, at the instigation of politi-
cians, and to the sacramental delight of ' divines.'
"■ Happy are the dead Africans, whom British death mowed down !
They did not live to see a man kidnapped in the city which their
blood helped free."
The late James Forten, of Philadelphia, well known as a Colored
man of wealth, intelligence, and philanthropy, relates " that he remem-
bered well when Lord Cornwallis was overrunning the South, when
thick gloom clouded tlie prospect. Then Washington hastily gathered
what forces he was able and hurried to oppose him. And I remem-
ber," said he, "for I saw them, when the regiments from Rhode
Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts marched through Philadelphia,
that one or two companies of Colored men were attached to each.
The vessels of War of that period, were all, to a greater or less extent,
SERVICES OF COLORED AMERICANS. 23
manned wltli Colored men. On board the ' Royal Louis,' of twenty-
sis guns, commanded by Captain Stephen Decatur, senior, there were
twenty Colored seamen. I bad myself enlisted in this vessel, and on
the second cruise was taken prisoner, and shortly after was confined on
board the old Jersey Prison Ship, where I remained a prisoner for
seven months. The Alliance, of thirty-six guns, commanded by
Commodore Barry ; the Trumbull, of thkty-two guns, commanded by
Captain Nicholson ; and the ships South CaroHna, Confederacy, and
the Randolph, each were manned in part with Colored men."
The digression from military services to those rendered voluntarily
during the pestilence, seemed to me warrantable in this connection.
In the autvimn of 1793, the yellow fever broke out in Philadelphia,
with peculiar malignity. The insolent and unnatural distinctions of
caste were overturned, and the people called Colored, were solicited in
the public papers to come forward, and assist the perishing sick. The
same mouth which had gloried against them in its prosperity, in its
overwhelming adversity implored their assistance. The Colored peo-
ple of Philadelphia nobly responded. The then Mayor, Matthew
Clarkson, received their deputation with respect, and recommended
their course. They appointed Absalom Jones and Wm. Gtray to su-
perintend it, the Mayor advertising the public that, by applying to
them, aid could be obtained. This took place about September.
Soon afterwards the sickness increased so dreadfully that it became
next to impossible to remove the corpses. The Colored people volun-
teered this painful and dangerous duty — did it extensively, and hired
help in doing it. Dr. Rush instructed the two superintendents in the
proper precautions and measures to be used.
A sick white man crept to his chamber window, and entreated the
passers by to bring him a drink of water. Several white men passed,
but hurried on. , A foreigner came up — paused — was afraid to sup-
ply the help with his own hands, but stood and offered eight dollars
to whomsoever would. At length, a poor black man appeared ; he
heard — stopped — ran for water — took it to the sick man ; and then
staid by him to nurse him, steadily and mildly refusing all pecuniary
Sarah Boss, a poor black widow, was active in voluntary and be-
A poor black man, named Sampson, went constantly from house to
house giving assistance everywhere gratuitously, until he was seized
with the fever and died.
24 SERVICES OF COLORED AMERICANS.
Mary Scott, a woman of Color, attended Mr. Richard Mason and
bis son, SO kindly and disinterestedly, tliat the widow, Mrs. R. Mason,
settled an annuity of six pounds upon her for life.
An elderly black nurse, going about most diligently and affection-
ately, when asked what pay she wished, used to say " a dinner, Massa,
some cold winter's day."
A young black woman was offered any price, if she would attend a
white merchant and his wife. She would take no money ; but went,
saying that, if she went from holy love, she might hope to be pre-
served — but not if she went for money. She was seized with the
fever, but recovered.
A black man riding through the streets, saw a white man push a
white woman out of the house. The woman staggered forward, fell in
the gutter and was too weak to rise. The black man dismounted, and
took her gently to the hospital at Bush-hill.
Absalom Jones and Wm. Gray, the Colored superintendents, say,
" a white man threatened to shoot us if we passed by his house with a
corpse. We buried him three days aftei-wards."
About twenty times as many black nurses as white were thus em-
ployed during the sickness.
The following certificate was subsequently given by the Mayor : —
" Having, during the prevalence of the late malignant disorder, had
almost daily opportunities of seeing the conduct of Absalom Jones
and Richard Allen, and the people employed by them to bury the
dead, I with cheerfulness give this testimony of my approbation of
their proceedings, as far as the same came under my notice. The dili-
gence, attention, and decency of deportment, afforded me at the time
much satisfaction." Signed,
Matthew Clarkson, Mayor.
Philadelphia, Jan. 23, 1794.
On the capture of "Washington by the British forces, it was judged
expedient to fortify, without delay, the principal towns and cities ex-
posed to similar attacks. The Vigilance Committee of Philadelphia
waited upon three of the principal Colored citizens, namely, James
Forten, Bishop Allen, and Absalom Jones, soliciting the aid of the
people of Color in erecting suitable defences for the city. Accordingly,
two thousand five hundred Colored men assembled in the State House
yard, and from thence marched to Gray's ferry, where they labored for
SERVICES OF COLORED AMERICANS. 25
two days, almost without intermission. Their labors were so faithful
and efficient, that a vote of thanks was tendered them by the commit-
tee. A battalion of Colored troops were at the same time organized
in the city, under an officer of the United States army ; and they were
on the point of marching to the frontier when peace was proclakned.
During the week of mob law against the Colored people, August,
1842, the following items were gleaned by a philanthropist.
A Colored man, whom I visited in the hospitals, called to see me
to-day. He had just got out. He looked very pitiful. His head
was bent down. He said he could not get it erect, his neck was so
injui-ed. He is a very intelligent man, and can read and write. I will
give you his story.
Charles Black, over fifty, resides in Lombard Street. Was at
home with his little boy unconscious of what was transpiring without.
Suddenly, the mob rushed into his room, dragged him down stairs, and
beat him so unmercifully that he would have been killed, had not some
humane individuals interposed, and prevented further violence. He
was an impressed seaman on board an English sixty-four gun ship, in
the beo-innino- of the War of 1812. When he heard of the War, he
refused to fight against his country, although he had nine hundred
dollars prize money coming to him from the ship. He was, therefore,
placed in irons, and kept a prisoner on board some time, and then sent
to the well known Dartmoor prison. He was exchanged, and shipped
for France. Shortly afterwards he was taken and sent back to Dart-
moor — was exchanged a second time, and succeeded in reaching the
United States. He soon joined the fleet on Lake Champlain, under
M'Donough ; was with hmi in the celebrated battle which gave
honor (?) to the American arms. He was wounded, but never re-
ceived a pension. His father was in the battle of Bunker Hill, and
his grandfather fought in the old French War.
This devotion and these services of the Colored Pennsylvanians
have been rewarded by excluding 52,000 of then: number from the
26 SERVICES OF COLORED AMERICANS.
[From the Burlington (N. J.) Gazette.]
" I AM One Hundred Years Old to-day."
The attention of many of our citizens has doubtless been arrested by
the appearance of an old Colored man, who might have been seen
sitting in front of his residence, in East Union Street, respectfully rais-
ing his hat to those who might be passing by. His attenuated frame,
his silvered head, his feeble movements, combine to prove that he is
very aged ; and yet comparatively few are aware that he is among the
survivors of the gallant army who fought for the liberties of our coun-
try, " in the days which tried men's souls."
On Monday last we stopped to speak to him, and asked him how he
was. He asked the day of the month, and, upon being told that it
was the 24th of May, replied, with trembling lips, " I am very old —
I am a hundred years old to-day."
His name is Oliver Cromwell, and he says that he was born at
the Black Horse, (now Columbus,) in this county, in the family of
John Hutchin. He enlisted in a company commanded by Capt.
Lowery, attached to the 2d New Jersey Regiment, under the com-
mand of Col. Israel Shreve. He was at the battles of Trenton,
Princeton, Brandywine, Monmouth, and Yorktown, at which latter
place, he told us, he saw the last man killed. Although his faculties
are failing, yet he relates many interesting reminiscences of the revolu-
tion. He was with the army at the retreat of the Delaware, on the
memorable crossing of the 25th of December, 1776, and relates the
story of the battles on the succeeding days with enthusiasm. He gives
the details of the march from Trenton to Princeton, and told us, with
much humor, that they "knocked the British about lively" at the
latter place. He was also at the battle of Springfield, and says that
he saw the house bui-ning in which Mrs. Caldwell was shot, at Con-
New Jersey disfranchises 22,000 of her Colored population.
SERVICES OP COLORED AMERICANS. 27
Even in the Slaveholding States did Colored people magnanimously
" brave the battle field," developing a heroism indeed as tbougb their
own liberty was to be a recompense. But we find no proof that the
boasted chivalry of the Palmetto State extended the boon demanded
by simple justice.
The celebrated Charles Pinckney, of South Carolina, in his speech
on the Missouri question, and in defiance of the Slave representation
of the South, made the following admissions : —
" They (the Colored people) were in numerous instances the pion-
eers, and in all the' laborers of our armies. To their hands were owing
the greatest part of the fortifications raised for the protection of the
country. Fort Moultrie gave, at an early period of the inexperience
and untried valor of our citizens, immortality to the American arms."
TuE Last of Braddock's Men.
The Lancaster (Ohio) Grazette, February, 1849, announces the
death, at that place, of Sajiuel Jenkins, a Colored man, aged 115
years. He was a Slave of Capt. Breadwater, in Fan-fax County,
Vu'ginia, in 1771, and participated in the memorable campaign of
Testimony of Hon. Kobert C. Winthrop, from -his speech in Con-
gress, on the Imprisonment of Colored Seamen, Sept., 1850 : —
* * * "J ijr^yg a^Q impression, however, that, not indeed in
these piping times of peace, but in the time of war, when quite a boy,
I have seen black soldiers enlisted, who did faithful and excellent ser-
vice. But however it may have been in the Northern States, I can
28 SERVICES OF COLORED AMERICANS.
tell the Senator what happened in the Southern States at this period.
I believe that I shall bo borne out in saying, that no regiments did
better service at New Orleans than did the black regiments which
were organized under the direction of Gen. Jackson himself, after a
most glorious appeal to the patriotism and honor of the people of Color
of that region, and which, after they came out of the war, received the
thanks of Gen. Jackson, in a proclamation which' has been thought
worthy of being inscribed on the pages of history."
In 1814, when New Orleans was in danger, and the proud and
criminal distinctions of caste were again demolished by one of those
emergencies in which nature puts to silence for the moment the base
pai'tialities of art, the free Colored people were called into the field in
common with the whites ; and the importance of their services was thus
acknowledged by General Jackson : —
" Head Quarters, Seventh Military District, Mobile, Sep-
tember 21, 1814.
" To the Free Colored Inhalntants of Louisiana :
" Through a mistaken policy, you have heretofore been deprived of
a participation in the glorious struggle for national rights, in which otir
country is engaged. This no longer shall exist.
" As Sons of Freedom, you are now called upon to defend our most
inestimable blessings. As Americans, your country looks with confi-
dence to her adopted children, for a valorous support, as a faithful
return for the advantages enjoyed under her mild and equitable gov-
ernment. As fathers, husbands, and brothers, you are summoned to
rally around the standard of the Eagle, to defend all which is dear in
" Your cotmtry, although calling for yoiu- exertions, does not wish
you to engage in her cause, without remunerating you for the services
SERVICES OV COLORED AMERICANS. 29
rendered. Yoiir intelligent minds are not to be led away by false
representations — your love of honor would cause you to despise tlie
man who should attempt to deceive you. With the sincerity of a sol-
dier, and in the language of truth, I address you.
" To every noble hearted free man of Color, volunteering to servo
dui'ing the present contest with Great Britain, and no longer, there will
be paid the same bounty in money and lands, now received by the
white soldiers of the United States, namely, one hundred and twenty-
four dollars in money, and one hundred and sixty acres of land. The
non-commissioned officers and privates will also be entitled to the same
monthly pay, daily rations, and clothes furnished to any American
" On enrolling yourselves in companies, the Major General com-
manding will select officers, for your government, from your white
fellow citizens. Your non-commissioned officers will be appointed from.
" Due regard will be paid to the feelings of freemen and soldiers.
You will not, by being associated with white men in the same corps, be
exposed to improper comjjarisons, or unjust sarcasm. As a distinct,
independent battalion or regiment, pursuing the path of glory, you
will, undivided, receive the applause and gratitude of your country-
" To assure you of the sincerity of my intentions, and my anxiety
to engage your invaluable services to our country, I have communicated
my wishes to the Governor of Louisiana, who is fully informed as to
the manner of enrolments, and will give you every necessary informa-
tion on the subject of this address.
Major General Commanding."
The second proclamation is one of the highest compliments ever paid
by a military chief to his soldiers.
On December 18, 1814, General Jackson issued in the French
language, the following address to the free people of Color : —
' ' Soldiers ! — When on the banks of the Mobile I called you to
take up arms, inviting you to partake the perils and glory of your
tvhite fellow citizens, 1 expected much from you ; for I was not
ignorant that you possessed (j[ualities most formidable to an invading
30 SERVICES OP COLORED AMERICANS.
enemy. I knew with what fortitude you could endure hunger and
thirst, and all the fatigues of a campaign. I knew well how you loved
your native country, and that you, as well as ourselves, had to defend
what man holds most dear — his parents, wife, children, and property.
You have done more than I expected. In addition to the previous
qualities I before knew you to possess, I found among you a noble
enthusiasm, which leads to the performance of great things.
" Soldiers ! The President of the United States shall hear how
praiseworthy was your conduct in the hour of danger, and the repre-
sentatives of the American -people will give you the praise your exploits
entitle you to. Your General anticipates them in applauding your
"The enemy approaches; his vessels cover our lakes; our brave
citizens are united, and all contention has ceased among them. Their
only dispute is who shall win the prize of valor, or who the most glory,
its noblest reward. By Order,
Thomas Butler, Aid-de-Camp."
The Pennsylvania Freeman, of March 10, 1851, heralds as follows :
"The article below from the New Orleans Picayune, of a recent
date, revives an important historical fact, which, — with aU similar evi-
dence of the devotion of the free people of Color, to their country's
safety and welfare, notwithstanding the injustice they have received
from its hands, — the enemies of the Colored people have been careful
to conceal, in then' calumnies against this injured people. Let those
men read and ponder it, who fear dangers to the nation from the pres-
ence in it of a population of Colored freemen, protected by law in the
full possession of all their rights. The incident narrated is also a
burning rebuke from a Slaveholding community to the vulgar negro-
hatred of the North, which drives worthy Colored men from popular
processions, parades, schools, churches, and the so-called ' respectable '
avocations of life."
" The Free Colored Veterans. — Not the least interesting,
although the most novel, feature of the procession yesterday, (celebra-
tion of the Battle of New Orleans,) was the presence of ninety of the
Colored veterans who bore a conspicuous part in the dangers of the
day they were now for the first time called to assist in celebrating, and
who, by their good conduct in presence of the enemy, deserved and
SERVICES OF fcOLOKED AMERICANS. 31
received the approbation of their illustrious Commancler-in-chief.
Dui-ing the thirty-six yeai's that have passed away since they assisted
to repel the invaders from our shores, these faithful men have never
before participated in the annual rejoicings for the victory which their
valor contributed to gain. Their good deeds have been consecrated
only in their own memories, or lived but to claim a passing notice on
the page of the historian. Yet who more than they deserve the thanks
of the country and gratitude of succeeding generations 'i Who rallied
with more alacrity in response to the summons of danger ? Who
endured more cheerfully the hardships of the camp, or faced with
greater courage the perils of the fight ? If in that hazardous hour,
when our homes were menaced with the horrors of war, we did not
disdain to call upon the Colored population to assist in repelling the
invading horde, we should not, when the danger is past, refuse to per-
mit them to unite with us in celebrating the glorious event which they
helped to make so memorable an epoch in our history. We were not
too exalted to mingle with them in the affi-ay ; they were not too
humble to join in our rejoicings.
" Such we think is the universal opinion of our citizens. We con-
versed with many yesterday, and without exception they expressed
approval of the invitation which had been extended to the Colored
veterans to take part in the ceremonies of the day, and gratification at
seeing them in a conspicuous place in the procession.
" The respectability of then- appearance and the modesty of their
demeanor made an impression on every observer, and elicited unquali-
fied approbation. Indeed, though in saying so we do not mean disre-
spect to any one else, we think that they constituted decidedly the most
interesting portion of the pageant, as they certainly attracted the most
The editor, after fm-ther remarks upon the procession, adding of its
Colored members, " We reflected that, beneath their dark bosoms were
sheltered faithful hearts, susceptible of the noblest impulses," thus
alludes to the free Colored population of New Orleans.
"As a class, they are peaceable, orderly, and respectable people,
■ and many of them own large amounts of property among us. Then-
interests, then- homes, and then- affections, are here, and such strong
ties are not easily broken by the force of theoretical philanthropy, or
imaginative sentimentality. They have been true hitherto, and we will
not do them the injustice to doubt a continuance of their fidelity.
While they may be certain that insubordination will be promptly pun-
32 SERVICES OF COLORED AMERICANS.
ished, deserving actions will always meet with their due reward iu the
esteem and gratitude of the community."
Heroism Kewarded ! — A correspondent of the New York Ob-
server, wi'iting from the West, says : —
" Before leaving our boat, we must not omit to notice one of the
waiters in the cabin. He is a man of history. That tall, straight, active,
copper-colored man, with a sparkhng eye and intelligent countenance,
was Col. Clay's servant at Buena Vista. Fearless of dano-er, and
faithful to his master, he attended the Colonel into the midst of the
fatal charge, saw him fall from his horse, and, surrounded by the mur-
derous Mexicans, at last carried the mangled dead body from the field.
The Hon. Henry, in gratitude for such fidelity to his gallant son, has
allowed this man to hire himself out for five years, and to retain half
the proceeds ; and at the end of that time, gives him his freedom."
That is, a human being perils his life to save the life or bear off the
body of another human being, and for this act, he is to receive one
half of his oion earnings, for five years, and at the end of that time, to
be made a present of — to himself! — Boston Christian Register.
The Colored citizens of Ohio held a Mass Convention at Cleveland,
Sept. 8th, 1852. From their proceedings, I cull the following inci-
dents and tributes as peculiarly appropriate to a military history of
Rev. Dr. J. W. C. Pennington delivered a speech, of which Mr.
HowLAND, a Colored phonographic reporter, furnishes this sketch : —
" The Dr. took the stand and delighted the convention with a short,
brilliant, and instructive address on the history of the past, and the part
which the Colored people have taken in the struggles of this nation for
independence and its various wars since its achievement.
SERVICES OP COLOBED AMERICANS. 33
"Mr. P. is a gvaclucate of America's 'Peculiar Institution.' His
graduation fees were paid only very recently by the beneficence of
sundry English ladies and gentlemen ; and his Doctrate of Divinity
was conferred on him by one of the German Universities. Dr. Pen-
nington claimed for his race the honor of being the first Americans
whose bosoms were fired by the spiiit of American Independence.
And that claim, we think, he amply justified by documentary evidence.
" He read sundry antique papers, collected by him with great pains
from the archives of the State of New York, showing, that some thou-
sands of Colored people in that State, thirty years before the Declara-
tion of Independence was promulgated, were charged by the King of
Great Britain with conspiring against his authority, attempting to throw
off their obedience to him, and seeking to possess themselves of the
Government of the Colony of New York. Some of them were ban-
ished, and others were hanged. Those Colored fathers of his, said
the Eev. Doctor, attributed their Slavery to King George, and main-
tained their rights to freedom to be inviolable.
" Subsequently, when the white fathers of our Kevolution, ' walking
in the footsteps of their illustrious predecessors,' declared against
Britain's King, they said to his Colored fathers : That King did make
you Slaves. Now come you and help us break his rule in tbis country,
and that done, we '11 all be free together.
" Dr. P. exhibited to the audience an autograph petition of the
Colored people of Connecticut to the Government of Connecticut, pre-
sented immediately after the Revolutionary war, and praying that Gov-
ernment to comply with the promise which had been made them of
freedom, and imder which they had help fight the battles of that war.
" He read, also, an autograph paper of George Washington, dis-
missing from the service of that war, with higb recommendation of their
courage and efficiency, several Colored men ; and also certificates of a
like character from numbers of ofiicers, both naval and military, in
both our wars with England. We wish we could give Dr. P.'s whole
speech, and especially in his own well-chosen words."
The Convention then adjourned to join in the general jubilee, over
some of the events which Colored people bave helped to make con-
Thursday morning, at sunrise, a salute was fired in the public
square, in honor of the day, by the " Cleveland Light Artillery," and
another at nine o'clock, as the procession formed, of which the orator
of the day subsequently said : " They were the first thunders of artil-
34 SERVICES OF COLORED AMERICANS.
lery that ever awaked the echoes of these hills, in honor of the
Colored people. But they shall not be the last."
Says the Daily True Democrat, of the 10th inst. : —
" The principal feature in the ceremonials of this jubilee, was the
address of our fellow-citizen, Mr. William H. Day ; a performance
worthy of its great purpose, and therefore most creditable to the author.
Not often have we heard an address listened to with so absorbing an
attention, nor observed an audience to be more deeply moved, than
was Mr. Day's, by some parts of that address. After noticing the day,
the 9th of September, which had been selected for their jubilation, and
illustrating its pre-eminent suitableness to the occasion, by happy
references to many illustrious events of which it was the anniversary,
Mr. Day addressed himself to an able vindication of the claims of his
race in this country, to an equal participation in the exercise and enjoy-
ment of those American rights which large numbers of that race, in
common with the men of fau-er complexion, had fought, suffered, and
died to establish. Behind the orator sat seven or eight veteran Colored
men. Mr. D.'s apostrophe to those veterans was as touching as ad-
mirable, and produced a profound sensation."
Among the speakers, were several who took part in some of the
battles of the country. One of these men is Mr. John Julius, of
Pittsburgh, Pa. His age is now about seventy.
Among the Europeans who left their homes and rallied in defence of
American Independence, history records no more illustrious names
than Lafayette and Kosciusko. Not being tainted with American
Colorphobia they each expressed regret that their services had been
made a partial instead of a general boon. Bead the extract from
Lafayette's letter to Clarkson : —
" I would never have drawn my sword in the cause of America, if I
could have conceived that thereby I was founding a land of Slavery."
During his visit to the United States, in 1825, he made inquiries
for several Colored soldiers whom he remembered as participating with
him in various skirmishes.
SERVICES OF COLORED AMERICANS. 35
KOSCIUSKO'S TRIBUTE TO COLORED SOLDIERS.
Kosciusko, the gallant Pole, was young -when the news reached liis
ear that America was endeavoring to release her neck from Britain's
yoke. He promptly devoted himself to the service, and displayed a
heroism which won universal respect. Washington loved and honored
him, and the soldiers idolized his bravery ; but his manly heart was
saddened to learn that the Colored man was not to be a recipient of
those rights — rights, too, which many a sable soldier had fought to
obtain, and Kosciusko naturally presumed that when the victory was
achieved, all, irrespective of Color or accidental difference, would be
freely invited to the banquet.
But this unsophisticated Polish General was doomed to disappohit-
ment. Kosciusko, with the feeling that all Americans should have
been proud to exhibit — but, sad to tell, few. did so — endeavored to
render some signal compensation to those with whose wrongs his own
had taught him to sympathize ; and, as a grateful tribute to the
neglected and forgotten Colored man, he appropriated $20,000 of his
hard earnings to purchase and educate Colored children. But, by the
laws of Virginia where the bequest was to be carried into effect, this
generous object was defeated.
On the last visit to the United States of this illustrious donor, the
will was put into the hands of Thomas Jefferson, who was appointed
Executor, for to purchase Slaves and educate them, so as, in his own
words, " to make them better sons and better daughters." Jefferson
transferred the same to Benjamin L. Lear. In 1830, the bequest
amounting then to $25,000, was claimed by the legal heirs of the
donor. Interested parties subsequently recommended that the fund,
if recovered, should be employed by the trustees in buying and edu-
cating Slave children, with the view of sending them to Liberia ; an
object far enough at variance from the donor's intention.
This matter has been in litigation a long while, and I have been
unable to learn the conclusion. The chain of circumstances remind
me of the following question, once put to a Florida Planter of twenty-
five years standmg : —
" Has any property left by will to any Colored person, ever been
honestly and fairly administered by any white person "? " Mark his
answer : " Such instances might possibly have happened, but never to
36 SERVICES OK COLORED AMERICANS.
"Within a recent period, several companies of Colored men in New
York city have enrolled themselves a la militaire. The New York
Tribune of August, 1852, awards them the following commendation :
" Colored Soldiers. — Among the many parades withm a few days
we noticed yesterday a soldierly looking company of Colored men, on
theii- way homeward from a target or parade drill. They looked like
men, handled their arms like men, and should occasion demand, we
presume they would fight like men."
At the New Bedford celebration, August 1, 1851, of British West
India Emancipation, the procession was escorted by a Colored com-
pany of Cadets from New York. Among the civilities extended in
honor of the day was an invitation to the military and strangers to visit
the splendid residence and ornamental grounds of James Arnold, Esq.,
who, with his family, tendered the utmost kindness and courtesy in ex-
hibiting the beauties of nature and art that so lavishly adorned this
New Bedford palace. Kodney French, Esq., also, with character-
istic courtesy, threw open the doors of his hospitable mansion to the
military visitors, and a few invited guests. These voluntary manifesta-
tions of good- will, at once honorable to the donors and grateful to the
recipients, should be accepted as a harbinger of a better day coming.
A number of the chivahic portion of Colored Bostonians have also
been takmg initiatory steps for a military company, and accordmgly
petitioned the Legislature for a charter, the claims of which were pre-
sented by Charles Lenox Remond and Robert Morris, Esqs. ; but
like the prayer of the Attdcks petitioners, they, too, "had leave to
" I can wait," were the memorable words of John Quincy Adams
when his free speech was stopped on the floor of Congress.
The world will bear witness that toe have tcaited ; and oh, how
patiently. We have learned how subUme a thing it is to suffer and be
strong ; but though famiUar with we shall never gTOw reconciled to the
discipline. "Our hearts, though oft-times made to bleed, will gush
afresh at every wound."
The treatment meted out to us in this country, is but an illustration
of hatino- those whom we have injured, and calls to mind that scene
from Waverley, where Fergus IMac Iver replies to his friend on bemg
led to execution, "You see the compliment they pay to our highland
strength and courage ; here we have lam until our limbs are cramped
SERVICES OP COLORED AMERICANS. 37
into palsy, and now tlicy send a file of soldiers with loaded muskets to
prevent our taking the castle by storm." The analogy is found in the
omnipresent and omnipotent influence of American Pro-Slavery in
crushing every noble aspiration of the unoffending Colored man.
But despite the reign of terror inflicted upon us by the combined in-
fluences of the. Fugitive Slave Law and the American Colonization So-
ciety, we shall manfully contend for our rights, and as hopefully bide
our time, trusting that an enlightened public sentiment will soon yield
us the Justice so long withheld ; for as in Nature the smiles of Summer
are made sweeter by the frowns of Winter, the calm of ocean is made
more placid by the tempest that has preceded it, so in this moral
battle these incidental skirmishes will contribute to render the hour of
triumph soon a blissful realization. So sui-e as night precedes day
Whiter wakes Spring, and War ends in Peace, just so sure will the
persevering eflforts of Freedom's army be crowned with Victory's
From the foregoing it will be seen that the seven years conflict and
also the War of 1812, were both dotted by the devotion and bravery
of Colored Americans, despite the persecutions heaped Olympus high
upon them by their fellow countrymen. They have ever proved loyal
and ready to worship or die, if need be, at Freedom's shrine. The
amor imtrioe. has always burned vividly on the altar of their hearts.
They love their native land, " its hUls and valleys green." The white
man's banquet has been held, and loud paeans to liberty have reached
the sky above, while the Colored American's share has been to stand
outside and wait for the crambs that fall from Freedom's festive board.
A Tribute, by an Emancipator, being an extract from the
Will of A. P. Upseur, a member op Pres. Tyler's Cabinet.
" I make and publish this as my last will and testament :
((1 « * * * *
<( o * * * * *
"3. I emancipate, and set free, my servant, David Kicn, and
direct my executors to give him one hundred dollars. I recommend
him, in the strongest manner, to the respect, esteem, and confidence of
any community in which he may happen to live. He has been my
38 SERVICES OF COLORED AMERICANS.
Slave for twenty-four years, during which time he has been trusted to
every extent, and in every respect. My confidence in him has been
unbounded ; his relation to myself and family has always been such as
to afford him daily opportunities to deceive and injure us ; and yet he
has never been detected in a serious fault, nor even in an intentional
breach of the decorums of his station. His intelligence is of a high
order, his integrity above all suspicion, and his sense of right and pro-
priety always correct, and even delicate and refined. I feel that he is
justly entitled to carry this certificate from me, into the new relations
which he now must form. It is due to his long and most faithful ser-
vices, and to the sincere and steady friendship which I bear him. In
the uninterrupted and confidential intercourse of twenty-four years, I
have never given, nor had occasion to give him, an unpleasant word.
I know no man who has fewer faults, or more excellencies, than he.
Sio-ned, A. P. Upsuur."
[From the Alexandiia, D. C. Gazette.]
A Tribute from the Emancipated, by Washington's Freed Men.
Upon a recent visit to the tomb of Washington, I was much grati-
fied by the alterations and improvements around it. Eleven Colored
men were mdustriously employed in leveling the earth and turfing
around the sepulchre. There was an earnest expression of feeling
about them, that induced me to inquire if they belonged to the
respected lady of the mansion. They stated they were a few of the
many Slaves freed by George Washington, and they had offered their
services upon this last melancholy occasion, as the only retui-n in then-
power to make to the remains of the man who had been more than a
father to them ; and they should continue then- labors as long as any-
thing should be pointed out for them to do. I was so interested in
this conduct that I inquired their several names, and the following
were given me : —
"Joseph Smith, Sambo Anderson, William Anderson his son,
Berkley Clark, George Lear, Dick Jasper, IMorris Jasper, Levi Rich-
ardson, Joe Richardson, Wm. Moss, Wm. Hays, and Nancy Squander,
cooking for the men. — Fairfax County, Va., Mv. 14, 1835."
SERVICES OF COLORED AMERICANS. 39
[From Godey's Lady's Book, Jimc, lS-i9.]
ANECDOTES OF WASHINGTON.
BY REV. HENRY F. HARRINGTON.
Primus Hall.— Throughout the Revolutionary war he was the body
servant of Col. Pickering, of Massachusetts. He was free and eom-
munieative, and delighted to sit down with an interested listener aiid
pour out those stores of absorbing and exciting anecdotes with which
his memory was stored.
It is well known that there was no officer in the whole American
army whose friendship was dearer to WasiiixCxTON, and whose counsel
was more esteemed by him, than that of the honest and patriotic Col.
Pickering. He was on intimate terms with him, and unbosomed
himself to him with as little reserve as, perhaps, to any confident in
the army. Whenever he was stationed within such a distance as to
admit of it, he passed many hours with the Colonel, consulting him
upon anticipated measures, and delighting in his reciprocated friend-
Washington was, therefore, often brought into contact with the
servant of Col. Pickering, the departed Primus. An opportunity
was afforded to the negro to note him, under circumstances very dif-
ferent from those in which he is usually brought before the public,
and which possess, therefore, a striking charm. I remember two of
these anecdotes from the moath of Primus. One of them is very
slight, indeed, yet so peculiar as to be replete with interest. The au-
thenticity of both may be fully relied upon.
Washington once came to Col. Pickering's quarters, and found
" It is no matter," said he to Primus ; " I am gi-eatly in need of
exercise. You must help me to get some before your master returns."
Under Washington's directions the negro busied himself in some
simple preparations. A stake was driven into the ground about breast
high, a rope tied to it, and then Primus was desired to stand at some
distance and hold it horizontally extended. Tlie boys, the country
over, are familiar with this plan of getting sport. With true boyish
zest, Washington ran forwards and backwards for some time, jumping
over the rope as he came and went, until he expressed himself satisfied
with the " exercise."
40 SERVICES OK COLORED AMERICANS.
Repeatedly afterwards, when a favorable opportunity offered, lie
would say — " Come, Primus, I am in need of exercise ; " whereat
tlie negro would drive down the stake, and Washington would jump
over the rope until he had exerted himself to his content.
On the second occasion, the great Greneral was engaged in earnest
consultation with Col. Pickering in his tent until after the night had
fairly set in. Head-quarters were at a considerable distance, and
Washington signified his preference to staying with the Colonel over
night, provided he had a spare blanket and straw.
" Oh, yes," said Primus, who was appealed to ; " plenty of straw
and blankets — plenty."
Upon this assui'ance, Washington continued his conference with the
Colonel until it was time to retire to rest. Two humble beds were
spread, side by side, in the tent, and the officers laid themselves down,
while Primus seemed to be busy with duties that required his attention
before he himself could sleep. He worked, or appeared to work, until
the breathing of the prostrate gentlemen satisfied him that they were
sleeping ; and then, seating himself on a box or stool, he leaned his
head on his hands to obtain such repose as so inconvenient a position
would allow. In the middle of the night Washington awoke. He
looked about, and descried the negro as he sat. He gazed at him
awhile, and then spoke.
" Primus ! " said he, calling; " Primus ! "
Primus started up and rubbed his eyes. " What, General "? " said
Washington rose up in his bed. " Primus," said he, " what did
you mean by saying that you had blankets and straw enough ? Here
you have given up your blanket and straw to me, that I may sleep
comfortably, while you are obliged to sit through the night."
" It 's nothing. General," said Primus. It 's nothing. I 'm well
enough. Do n't trouble yourself about me. General, but go to sleep
again. No matter about me. I sleep very good."
"But it is matter — it is matter," said Washington, earnestly.
" I cannot do it, Primus. If either is to sit up, I will. But I think
there is no need of either sitting up. The blanket is wide enough for
two. Come and lie down here with me."
" Oh, no, General I " said Primus, starting, and protesting against
the proposition. "No; let me sit here. I'll do very well on the
" I say, come and lie down here ! " said Washington, authorita-
tively. " There is room for both, and I insist upon it ! "
He threw open the blanket as he spoke, and moved to one side of
the straw. Primus professes to have been exceedingly shocked at the
ideh, of lying under the same covering with the commander-in-chief, but
his tone was so resolute and determined that he could not hesitate. He
prepared himself, therefore, and laid himself down by Washington ;
and on the same straw, and under the same blanket, the General and
the negio servant slept until morning.