Lesson Plan

African Americans in the American Revolution

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Grade Level:
Third Grade-Eighth Grade
African American History and Culture, Colonial History, Revolutionary War
2 class periods
Group Size:
Up to 36
indoors or outdoors
National/State Standards:
SC: 3-3, 8-2
NC: 3.H.2.2, 8.C.1.3
African American History, Revolutionary War, American Revolutionary War


In “The Negro in the American Revolution,” Benjamin Quarles said the African-American was “a participant and a symbol. He was active on the battlefronts and behind the lines . . . The Negro’s role in the Revolution can best be understood by realizing that his major loyalty was not to a place nor to a people, but to a principle. Insofar as he had freedom of choice, he was likely to join the side that made him the quickest and best offer in terms of those ‘unalienable rights’ of which Mr. Jefferso


1) list the responsibilities of African-American soldiers in the Revolution

2) discuss the contributions of at least three African- Americans of the era

3) identify duties most often performed by African-Americans.



It is estimated that about 5,000 African-Americans served in the war.

Many African-Americans fought with the British since the British commander, Sir Henry Clinton, offered freedom to slaves who would fight for the King. The British used runaway slaves as guides, spies and laborers (carpenters, blacksmiths, etc.). By using the African-Americans as laborers, whites were free to be soldiers.

A number of black soldiers fought in the patriot ranks at the Battle of Kings Mountain.Pension records indicate that five and possiblysix African-Americans fought for the Patriot cause.

Last updated: April 14, 2015