Diverse Contributions: An Essay Sample on the American Revolution
The American Revolution that led the country to Independence resulted from many factors to which the 13 colonies drew frustrations. Although the white male colonists played a pivotal role in the war that saw the attainment of independence, many groups of people were involved in the war of independence as they fought for their rights. Enslaved African Americans’ efforts could be noticed since they also took up arms and served in the Continental Army as the colonists promised them freedom. Women also played an important role during the Great Awakening and the War of Independence.
The African American Participation in the American Revolutionary War
The black race initially came to America as a commodity during the evil transatlantic slave trade. The transatlantic slave trade, which started in the mid-fifteenth century, encompassed Africa, Europe, and the American continents. By the second half of the 16th century, there was growing political and ideological discontent between Great Britain and the thirteen colonies that, in some course of time, made up the United States of America. This culminated in a full-scale war, ultimately declaring full independence from the British leadership. Only 50 years later, the contribution of Africans who were still enslaved to the realization of American independence had been forgotten and seldom appreciated. It was not until October 1986 that President Ronald Reagan and the acknowledged their contribution by signing the Black Revolutionary War Patriots Acts into Law. Almost 5,000 enslaved Black people actively served during the American war on both sides of the conflict, depending on the promised package of freedom each party offered.
First, African Americans served mainly in the army of the revolutionaries. When the army was being formed, George Washington was reluctant to absorb the enslaved Black people into the Continental Army because he feared that availing guns in the hands of the blacks may lead to a slave rebellion. He felt particularly uncomfortable about such a possible outcome since he was also an enslaver. When a British commander in Virginia promised to free enslaved blacks who would serve in his army, George Washington also had to reverse his decision and permit more blacks to join the army. Most blacks, thus, formed regiments that served both in the army and the navy. Some regiments that drafted the blacks include the Rhode Island Regiment of 1778. Most enslaved people listed for the war were freed later, with George Washington freeing some of his slaves.
The Role of Women in the Great Awakening
The Great Awakening, known as the evangelical revival in Britain, was a religious revolution in the British American colonies without sparing Great Britain in the 1730-1740s. Started by Yale minister Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield, a British who visited America, the great awakening led to the break-up of most Protestant churches to the old light and the new light ones. It is also said to be a tangible cause of the American Revolution 50 years later. This is because the Great Awakening had an impact on the social structure of the American nation. It advocated for reforms skewed towards equality of the people and freedom; hence, the New Light Evangelists were never ordained. Women played a significant role in the great awakening in the British Colonies of America.
Although the role of women in the First Great Awakening is not as documented as their participation in the Second Great Awakening, some achievement of equality and the breakage of social structures was supported by women preachers in the First Great Awakening. Women became more enthusiastic about social matters and started having independent reasoning. Some women, such as Phyllis Wheatley, a black slave girl of the Whitney family, wrote enlightening and inspiring poems about religious morals during the Great Awakening. Others, like Hanna Heaton of Connecticut, wrote biographies illustrating a detailed chronology of events during the great awakening concerning her experience. Finally, Sarah Osborn from Rhodes Island gave an account of the spiritual and cultural metamorphosis at the time. Women, therefore, played a major role during that period, mostly in preparing the writings and documentation of the events.
Daughters of Liberty
Men were at the waterfront during the Revolutionary War, combating the Royal Army mano a mano. However, as the Revolutionary War approached, protests and boycotts were held in the thirteen colonies by the Sons of Leadership against British government leadership and taxation acts such as the Townshend Act of 1767 and the Stamp Act that came much earlier. The taxation was seen as mistreatment by the Kingdom of Britain, which was miles away from America8. Therefore, This inappropriate taxation can be considered one of the main reasons for the growing dissent against the British leadership and, thus, be viewed as one of the reasons leading to full-scale war.
While the Sons of Liberty held such protests and boycotted imported British goods entering the thirteen colonies, the Daughters of Liberty formed a group to display their loyalty to the noble course of boycotting British goods. The Daughters of Liberty refused to serve or drink British tea as long as the Townshend tax was still being applied5. They were also skilled enough to weave wool and yarn to produce cloth, thus reducing the Americans’ dependence on British textile 10. Their efforts, therefore, assisted in upholding the boycotts for far too long. As the war started, the Daughters of Liberty showed their loyalty by providing food and other resources to the soldiers in the war field. Some renowned Daughters of Liberty include Abigail Adams, Deborah Sampson, and Esther de Berdt. Finally, as illustrated, some women also joined the army as soldiers.
African American and women’s efforts have been overlooked while writing American History. Africans served in the regiments and the navy formed by the Continental Army. Women similarly participated in the Great Awakening and facilitated the army’s efforts during the War of Independence. Their contribution to the great idea of gaining independence was immense, as they were among those enthusiasts who believed they could change the world and succeed.
1. Barton, Michael, and Larry Logue. 2002. The Civil War Soldier. New York University Press.
2. Benfield, Barker. 1998. Portraits of American Women: From Settlement to the Present. Oxford University Press.
3. Berkin, Carol. 2007. Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Striggle for America’s Independence. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
4. Brekus, Catherine. 2017. Sarah Osborn’s World: The Rise of Evangelical Christianity in Early America. Yale University Press.
5. Carretta, Vincent. 2014. Phillis Wheatley: Biography of a Genious in Bondage. University of Georgia Press.
6. Clinton, Catherine. 2010. The Plantation Mistress. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
7. Culpepper, Marilyn. 2014. All Things Altered: Women in the Wake of Civil War and Reconstruction. McFarland.
8. Egerton, Douglas. 2011. Death Or Liberty: African Americans and Revolutionary America. Oxford University Press.
9. Lanning, Michael. 2005. African Americans in the Revolutionary War. Kensington Publishing Group.
10. Micklos, John. 2013. American Indians and African Americans of the American Revolution- Through Primary Sources. Enslow Publishers, Inc.