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African American Heritage: The Great Black Heroes and Patriots

Meet the African Americans Who Contributed to the Rich History of the United States.

By John LimboPublished 3 years ago 6 min read
The National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington DC

When we study the Black history of the United States, we typically just look back to the last 50 years to the time of the great civil liberties activists such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and the Freedom Riders. Nevertheless, African American heritage extends beyond the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. As early as the very first slave ships docked in the New World, the African American struggle also started. During the Revolutionary War, African American patriots side by side with their white comrades. The American Civil War saw the United States Colored Troops played a significant role in the success of the Union Army. During the Reconstruction Era, African American politicians fanned the flames of desire for equality and recognition.

With their liberty and liberty as the biggest stake, around 9,000 African American patriots served in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. One of them is Peter Salem. A slave born in 1750 in Framingham, Province of Massachusetts Bay. Originally owned by Jeremiah Belknap, he was later sold to Major Lawson Buckminster who provided Salem his liberty for him to join the patriot militia. Peter Salem fought for the Continental Army for several years including his well known involvement at the Battle of Bunker Hill throughout the Siege of Boston.

Another Black patriot is James Armistead Lafayette. He was born a slave in New Kent County, Virginia. He was owned by William Armistead. Throughout the revolution, we served the Continental Army under Marquis de Lafayette. He rose to fame when he became a mole for the innovative troops after his expected defection to the British. He fed the British army with incorrect information while obtaining valuable knowledge for the American soldiers.

The life of Prince Whipple is somehow famous. He was a former slave from Ambou, Ghana under General William Whipple. The great basic gave Prince his flexibility but he continued to accompany his previous master during the Revolutionary War. Many say that the African American accompanying General George Washington at the popular painting of the crossing of Delaware was Prince Whipple.

Numerous African Americans also rose to fame outside the military service during the time of the revolution. Lemuel Haynes became noteworthy as the first African American to be ordained as a minister. He served as an indentured laborer to Deacon David Rose, a farmer in Granville, Massachusetts, who considerably influenced his spiritual childhood. He became a preacher as a young boy and was later ordained as a minister in the Congregational Church. He did not only serve God however also his country by serving in the militia throughout the revolution.

Another African American intellectual was Benjamin Banneker. Banneker became famous as an almanac publisher and property surveyor. He also has a vast understanding of mathematics and astronomy, the majority of which are self-learned. He became a recognized property surveyor when he was asked to sign up with the group led by Major Andre Elliott to map out the original borders of the District of Columbia.

Later on, after the revolution, numerous African Americans rose to prominence in politics. The first of which is Wentworth Cheswell. He was born in Newmarket, New Hampshire to a bi-racial father and a European mom. He functioned as a town constable in 1768 and after that served other local government positions every year but one up until he died in 1817. He also held several federal government positions as an assessor, auditor, Justice of the Peace, instructor, and historian. Cheswell is acknowledged as the first African American to be chosen in any public work in the United States.

Another politician who rose to the ranks after the transformation is Robert Brown Elliot. Elliot was born in Liverpool, England. He lived in England and completed law up until he signed up with the Royal British Navy. Later, he moved and settled in South Carolina in 1867 and was confessed to the state's Bar and practiced law in Columbia. A year later on he was chosen to the South Carolina House of Representatives and later was designated as assistant adjutant-general and ended up being the first African-American commanding general of the South Carolina National Guard. His excellent political profession came to a peak when he was elected as South Carolina's representative to the Forty-second United States Congress.

The American Civil War era and the Reconstruction duration that followed made significant impacts on the lives and battles of the African Community. A lot of us would consider that this time of US history as the ultimate fight for emancipation and liberty of thousands of black servants. During this duration, many of them also rose to the ranks and prominence and made essential contributions to defend civil liberties.

Robert Smalls from Beaufort, South Carolina paved the way for African Americans to be accepted in the Union Army. President Abraham Lincoln admired his bravery and courage when he released himself, his crew, and their families by taking control over a Confederate transportation ship and cruising it through treacherous waters until they reached a Union blockade. Because of this act of courage, President Lincoln enabled African Americans to get to the Union soldiers throughout the Civil War. After the war, Robert Smalls continued to function as an elected representative to the South Carolina House of Representatives and after that later to the United States Congress.

Josiah Thomas Walls is another great Civil War hero. Walls was born as a servant in 1842 near Winchester, Virginia. He was required to sign up with the Confederate army along with numerous other black slaves. He was caught by the Union Army in 1842 in the town of Yorktown and later on vowed his obligation to the Union when he served as part of the US Colored Troops. After the war, he settled in Florida and became a state senator for four terms and later on elected as the first African American to represent Florida to the US Congress.

Speaking of firsts, let us not forget Hiram Rhodes Revels. Revels is acknowledged as the first-ever African American to be chosen in any home of the US Congress when he won as a United States senator in 1870 and 1871. He was also a Civil War veteran where he arranged 2 regiments of the United States Colored Troops. Revels is not simply a soldier but he also functioned as a pastor of the Union Army during the war. After his stint in politics, he ended up being the very first president of Alcorn Agricultural College (now Alcorn State University) for two terms from 1971 to 1873 and 1876 to 1882.

Another first in US history is Joseph Hayne Rainey, the first African American to be elected to the US House of Representatives and the second to the US Congress after Hiram Rhodes Revels. Rainey was born into a slave family in Georgetown, South Carolina. He and his household became free when his father purchased their freedom in the 1840s. At the start of the Civil War, he was among the complimentary black guys powerfully conscripted by the Confederates to build the strongholds in Charleston.

Benjamin S. Turner is another slave-turned-free guy who rose to the political ranks after emancipation. Turner was born into slavery in Halifax County, North Carolina, and was required to move to Alabama with his mom at the age of five because of the internal slave trade. Historians assume that Turner stayed as a servant until the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. After he was approved freedom. He ended up being a businessman and founded a livery stable in Selma, Alabama. He later signed up with politics and entered into the Republican Party of Alabama. He was elected tax collector of Dallas County, Alabama in 1867 then councilman of the city of Selma in 1869. He later served the US Congress as the representative of the first congressional district of Alabama.

Lots of other people of color played essential functions in the history of this country. Though a lot of them frequently reclaim seats to their white equivalents, it is essential that their contributions to the United States are celebrated and celebrated. Knowing how African American forefathers, patriots, and heroes equally sacrificed their lives and courageously fight for this nation's freedom can greatly help the black community's continuing battle towards approval and equality. A terrific and enjoyable way to find out more about the black history and culture of the United States is by taking an African American heritage tour and exploring lots of fantastic locations celebrating the black community.


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