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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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Friends of Minute Man Seeks Researcher on “Patriots of Color”

The Friends of Minute Man National Park has announced that it will sponsor a scholar to research the lives of “Patriots of Color,” Massachusetts slaves and former slaves who fought during the American Revolution. One of the goals of this project is to support the creation of a lesson plan on that topic.

The “Patriots of Color” research will be guided by these questions:
  • How many men of color from Massachusetts who fought in the American Revolution were free?
  • How many men of color from Massachusetts who fought in the American Revolution were enslaved?
  • Were those who were enslaved during their enlistment emancipated because of their military service?
  • If men were emancipated because of their military service, was the emancipation immediate or at the end of their enlistment?
  • What would enslaved men hope to gain by fighting on the side of the revolutionaries for a liberty that was not conceived to include them?
  • Did any men of color from Massachusetts fight with the British?
  • What would enslaved men hope to gain by fighting for the British, a distant imperial power conceived by the revolutionaries to be enslaving all colonists?
  • Examine how changing Massachusetts laws concerning the enlistment in the military of men of color affected their opportunities to serve during the Revolution as well as their chances of being emancipated, if enslaved.
  • Did slave owners use their slaves as substitutes for their own military service?
  • Were the recruitment bounties different for men of color than for whites?
  • Did slave owners enlist their slaves in order to obtain the bounties?
  • How many men of color served on April 19 and from which towns? Were they slaves or free men?
  • What effects did revolutionary service on either side, revolutionary or British, have on the subsequent lives of men of color who were enslaved at the outset of the conflict, and the subsequent lives of their families?
The application deadline is 30 May, and the project must be completed by 30 Aug 2014. The scholar will receive $2,000. To read the necessary professional qualifications, parameters for the final report, and application instructions, see this P.D.F. download.

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