J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Talk on Black Soldiers in Britain’s Caribbean Wars, 29 Apr.

On Tuesday, 29 April, at 5:00 P.M. the American Antiquarian Society will host a seminar by Maria Alessandra Bollettino, Assistant Professor of History at Framingham State University, on “The British Empire’s ‘Sable Arm’: Black Combatants in the Mid-Eighteenth-Century Caribbean and Postwar Antislavery.”

Bollettino described her plans this way:
This talk will examine enslaved and free Blacks’ martial contributions to Britain’s West Indian expeditions against France and Spain during the War of Jenkins’ Ear (1739-48) and the Seven Years’ War (1756-63). It will contend that people of African descent played an integral role in these expeditions—a role that was increasingly embraced and expanded by British imperial and military officials and one that was seized upon by postwar antislavery authors to assert that Blacks would better serve the empire as free subjects than as slaves.

This talk will maintain, however, that few enslaved and free black men who allied with the colonial order in hope of freedom and social advancement gained such valuable perquisites from their military service. Indeed, imperial and military officials’ growing conviction that Blacks were better suited to warfare in tropical climates than Europeans contributed to the hardening of conceptions of race in the British Atlantic world.
The talk will take place in the Society’s Goddard-Daniels House in Worcester. There will be refreshments before the paper, and the talk will be followed by a dutch-treat dinner in the city. If you plan to attend, please notify Paul Erickson by Monday, 28 April.

[Image above from a reenactment of the Battle of Bloody Mose, which took place in Florida in 1740.]

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