African Americans in the Revolutionary War

During the American Revolution African American men, both enslaved and free fought in the Continental Army. Black soldiers served in mostly integrated units at this time. The First Rhode Island Regiment is the most famous regiment that included African Americans during the American Revolution.

In 1778 the Rhode Island Assembly voted to allow “every able-bodied negro, mulatto, or Indian man slave in this state to enlist into either of the Continental Battalions being raised.” The assembly further stipulated that “every slave so enlisting shall, upon his passing muster before Colonel Christopher Greene, be immediately discharged from the service of his master or mistress, and be absolutely free.” Rhode Island Enslavers opposed this new law and in June 1778, the state repealed this provision. However, 100 African Americans enlisted during that four month period. Another 44 enlisted after June of 1778. In the end 144 African Americans enlisted in the First Rhode Island out of a total of 225.

Learn about some the African Americans who fought in the American Revolution below

African American Profiles

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      Last updated: November 9, 2022

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