Join us for Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month with activities, programs, and resources this May. Plan Your Visit

Dismiss notification
Showing 21–30 of 666 results for Black History Month

Finding Freedom: Andrew - “Soldiers in Uniform”

This French officer’s depiction of American soldiers at the Siege of Yorktown shows a soldier of African descent from the Rhode Island Regiment of the Continental Army. During the Revolutionary War, Black and White soldiers fought alongside one another on both sides of the conflict. Historians estimate that between 4,000 and 8,000 men of African descent served in the Continental Army. In 1778, Rhode Island offered freedom to enslaved men in exchange for service. It created a regiment with privates of African and Native American ancestry, officered by White men. In 1781, the Rhode Island line was collapsed from two regiments into one integrated unit with segregated companies.

Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection, Brown University Library

Read More

When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story: Montgomery Township, Somerset County, New Jersey, October 1801

Montgomery Township
Somerset County, New Jersey
October 13, 1801
Ink on Paper 

This poll list is from an 1801 state election held at the Rocky Hill Inn in Montgomery Township, Somerset County. The election determined annual officeholders for the New Jersey State Assembly and Legislative Council, and for the Somerset County Sheriff and Coroner. The town officers presiding over the election included one judge, Robert Stockton, the town clerk, Frederick Cruser, and two poll inspectors, Hendrick VanDike, also known as Colonel Henry VanDike, and Thomas Skillman. 

The poll list includes the names of 343 total voters. At least 46 of these voters are women, accounting for nearly 14 percent of the voters on the list. It also includes the names of at least four free Black male voters, one of whom is identified as Black on the poll list with the word “negro” in parentheses next to his name. 

Like the rest of Somerset County, Montgomery Township voted Federalist in 1801. Most voters in the township supported Federalists Peter D. Vroom for Legislative Council; William MacEowen, James Van Duyn, and Frederick Frelinghuysen for General Assembly; and Peter Stryker for sheriff. The voting results for coroner are lost.

Note: The names recorded on this poll list were written by an election official, not by the voters themselves. The spelling of each voter’s name on the poll list may be different compared to how that same person’s name is spelled in other historical records and by the Museum of the American Revolution.

Images: New Jersey State Archives, Department of State

Read More

Finding Freedom: Andrew - Claim for Increase in Revolutionary War Pension Payment

Andrew Ferguson traveled west to Knox County, Indiana, in 1844 to apply for an increase in his Revolutionary War pension payments due to the growing pain of his wartime injuries. This written record documents his testimony given at the county courthouse and the support Ferguson’s application received from a fellow Black veteran named Daniel Strother. According to his testimony, Ferguson was wounded in the leg at the Battle of Camden in 1780 and in the head at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in 1781. Two doctors examined Ferguson following his testimony and agreed that his injuries prevented him from earning a living from manual labor. The doctors supported his claim for an increase in his pension payments, but the United States Government denied Ferguson’s request. 

National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC/Fold3.com

Read More

Finding Freedom: Deborah - George Washington’s Letter to Lund Washington

On April 30, 1781, General George Washington wrote this letter to Lund Washington, his cousin and farm manager, to express his disgust with Lund Washington’s decision to supply the British when they came to Mount Vernon earlier that month. In General Washington’s absence, Lund Washington convinced the British to spare the plantation from being destroyed by providing them with food and supplies. General Washington wrote in response, “It would have been a less painful circumstance to me, to have heard…they had burnt my House, & laid the Plantation in Ruins.” Lund Washington’s negotiation saved the property, but General Washington felt his honor had been tarnished by giving in to the enemy. The departure of 17 enslaved people, including Deborah, only worsened Washington’s embarrassment. Although the British left Washington’s plantation untouched, they burned many neighboring properties.

George Washington Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC

Read More

Picturing Washington's Army: Verplanck’s Point

Pierre Charles L’Enfant’s watercolor of the encampment at Verplanck’s Point (August-October 1782) depicts the Continental Army at its professional best. Wooden bowers, or shades made of tree branches, decorated the long line of soldiers’ tents. Washington’s marquee tent stood on a hill where it “towered, predominant” over the camp, as one eyewitness put it.

For a month, the Continental troops at Verplanck’s Point gathered firewood for the coming winter and drilled for the next campaign. On September 22, the Continental Army demonstrated their fighting readiness for French forces marching from Virginia through the Hudson Highlands. One astonished French officer admired the transformation of an army that had “formerly had no other uniform than a cap, on which was written Liberty.” 

Image: Museum of the American Revolution, Gift of the Landenberger Family Foundation

Read More

When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story

Explore the Museum's new When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story, 1776-1807 online exhibit to learn the little-known history of the nation’s first women voters.
Read More

When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story: PLG - Chester Township, Burlington County, New Jersey, October 1807

Chester Township, Burlington County, New Jersey, October 1807


This is a transcription of a poll list from a state election held at a schoolhouse in Moorestown, Chester Township, in October 1807. This list of voters includes the names of 38 women that cast their ballots just one month before the New Jersey State Legislature passed a bill defining voters as white, male citizens. The closing of the electorate effectively stripped the vote from women and free people of color in New Jersey.


A number of voters on this list have yet to be identified. As the Museum of the American Revolution continues its research, please contact us if you know more about any of the voters. Share your research with us.

Read More

Finding Freedom: Deborah - “Muster Book of Free Black Settlement of Birchtown,” Page 40

When Deborah arrived in Nova Scotia in 1783, she was one of many newly freed people of African descent who helped settle Birchtown, a town named for British Brigadier General Samuel Birch. This page from a 1784 census, or list of residents, documents the men and women who lived in Birchtown the year after the town’s founding. Deborah’s name, recorded as Deborah Lynch, can be found near the bottom of the page on the left side. Harry, her husband listed in the 1783 “Inspection Roll of Negroes,” is not included in this census. He may have died due to the harsh conditions and bad weather that the settlers faced. Deborah likely took the last name Lynch because Harry had been owned by a Loyalist named Lynch, whom Deborah also lived with for a short time. In this document, Deborah is listed as a member of the household of a man named Neil Robinson. No other details about their relationship status are currently known.

“Muster Book of Free Black Settlement of Birchtown,” 1784, Library and Archives Canada, MG 9 B9-14, item 1292

Read More

The Davenport Letters: May 22, Year Unknown

This letter does not include a year. James Davenport’s letters and his memoirs indicate that he was at West Point in May 1779, 1780, and 1782, so it is unclear in which year he wrote this one. John Davenport, who transcribed this letter in the 1850s, numbered it as the second letter, between Isaac How Davenport’s two, but James was at Valley Forge, not West Point, in May 1778.

James Davenport was born in 1759 and apprenticed to a local shoemaker. In 1776, he enlisted in a militia unit and then in the Continental Army in February 1777. In April 1777, he began several months of campaigning in New York that eventually took him to the Battle of Saratoga in September. He spent that winter at Valley Forge with the main Continental Army, where, according to his memoir, “huts and cells were built to dwell in during the winter, as commodious as place and circumstances would allow.” After a brief illness and recovery away from camp, he was inoculated for smallpox, as a result of which he “had a siege of it; but I came off conqueror.” In 1778 and 1779, he fought at the Battle of Monmouth, endured a series of illnesses, and saw active service in New York before gaining a furlough in December 1779.

In this undated letter, he complains about the minimal daily rations that Continental soldiers sometimes received: in this case, half a pound of bread, a gill (four ounces, or half a cup) of peas, and “a little stinking shad,” a type of fish. May was a hard month in army encampments because there was little fresh food available, and stores put up the previous summer and fall would be running low and spoiling.

Read More
A desktop computer showing the Timeline of the American Revolution with a succulent and mug next to the computer

Timeline of the American Revolution

Explore the history of the American Revolution through objects, artifacts, and documents from the Museum's collection that were there.
Explore the Timeline
3 of 67 pages