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