This topic is largely in response to the topic:
Acting White, Acting Black (http://www.jehovahs-witness.com/6/57555/1.ashx). In one post, I said:
One possible reason that both native americans AND blacks (then slaves) were treated so badly for so long is that both largely sided with the British in the war of independence. I guess countries have some kind of giant collective consciousness that takes a while to change.
Teejay's response to this was:
I've read some totally inane stuff on this board, but Simon? What you said here totally takes the cake. I mean... you have GOTTT to be kidding!
Africans first landed in the New World in the early 1600's (1620, to be exact). The Revolution took place more than 150 years later. Even then, many blacks fought AGAINST the British, which was silly... once you think about it, but still... that's what happened.
And "Native Americans sided with the british? Pardon me for asking, but isn't it a bit early in the day for you to be drinking? There may have been an occasional alliance here and there between this tribe and that british contingent, but for the most part the natives cared for none of the Europeans. They considered all of you invaders.
As far as what Simon said, that was just too absurd to let pass. Native Americans and Blacks have been mistreated here in the U.S. because they/we helped the British? I mean... come on!! How ridiculous does a statement have to be before YOU challenge it?
That's why I'm here, Simon. To be enlightened. The Natives and Blacks (from within a slave system) helped the brits. Damn! This I gotta see...
I will demonstrate that both native Americans and blacks did side with the british and furthermore that there were repercussions for them doing so.
First, I think it would be useful to establish some facts and background to the revolution. Althouth it is portrayed as a "rebellion against tyranny" the reality is less grandiouse ... it was about money and land and property:
In June 1772, Lord Mansfield, Chief Justice of the King's Bench, held that slavery "is so odious, that nothing can be suffered to support it, but positive law." As "the law of England" neither "allowed" nor "approved" of slavery, Mansfield ruled that "the black must be discharged." Remember that black slavery was very important to the rich landowners of the colonies.
With the conclusion of the Great War for Empire, the English government applied further controls over colonial freedom to act, particularly in restricting settlement westward within the chartered limits of the colonies. By the Proclamation of 1763, the lands beyond the Appalachian mountain chain were declared off limits to colonial governments, the lands being "reserved" to the Indians under the cognizance of the British Crown which reasserted its sovereignty and control over the area. Although the anger of the colonies was tempered by the knowledge that the freeze was a temporary measure and not necessarily permanent, it marked another example of the tightening noose placed by the home government over colonial freedom of action.
In their dealings with the Indian nations, the English authorities utilized the treaty form of negotiation in which solemn covenants were entered into as between equals. During the period 1763 to 1775, a series of boundaries between the colonists and the Indians of the interior were created from Lake Ontario to Florida, confirming in the minds of Indians (and of many colonists) the belief that the Indian country was closed to speculation and settlement by the increasingly aggressive colonists.
(a not insignificant limt to the expansion of the colonials)
The (British) East India Company had fallen on hard times, and Parliament in an attempt to bail out the lumbering giant granted it privileges with grave implications for America. The company''s inventory of imported tea had built up in British warehouses. In 1773 Parliament decided that when tea was reexported to the colonies, the import duties paid when it was first brought into England would be remitted, enabling the company to retail the tea at a reduced price. The company still had to pay the old Townshend Duty of 3d. a pound when the tea arrived in America, but there would be enough of a price differential to give the company a substantial marketing advantage even against smuggled Dutch tea. Furthermore the company was allowed to sell through its own American agents rather than through middlemen, further reducing the price. It is a little difficult to understand the American reaction to the Tea Act - No new duty had been imposed. Americans were no more obligated to buy the tea than before the act was passed. But at all four major ports where tea shipments arrived - Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston - people resisted. They interpreted the act as an attempt to bribe Americans into buying tea and paying the duty, thus opening the door to still more oppressive taxation. In three ports the tea shipments were halted or sent back; in Boston Governor Thomas Hutchinson seemed resolved to land the tea at whatever cost. To stop him, townspeople (dressed as indians) on December 16, 1773, dumped 342 chests of tea into the harbor.Note, the tea was not more expensive or taxed higher but it did of course mean less profit for the same rich landowners already smarting from the parent countries limits on both expension and slavery.
A revolution was born. It was not a fight against tyranny although emotive words like this were used to recruit and incite people. It was more to do with rich, powerful landowners wanting more. I guess nothing ever really changes.
Whatever the real reason, a rebellion was afoot and though Britain won almost every major battle, they failed to win the war fighting, as they were, many miles away from home against the occupying defending people fighting a gurilla campeign. A lesson that the new nation would itself learn years later in Vietnam.
So who sided with who?
In July 1776, Colonel Guy Johnson and Joseph Brant, the Mohawk, had returned to New York from a visit to England. While in London, Brant had been warmly received and highly honored. George Romney had painted his portrait. Brant had become more than ever convinced that the Indian future lay with the British Crown and not with the American colonists. After distinguishing himself at the Battle of Long Island, Brant slipped through the patriot lines in order to return to Iroquoia and bring his countrymen into the fight against the Americans. In conjunction with Colonel Butler, the British commander at Fort Niagara, Brant succeeded in getting four of the six Iroquois nations to take up the hatchet against the Americans. Only the Oneida and the Tuscarora refused.
Shortly after the battle of Oriskany, the patriot cause seemed vulnerable to destruction at the hands of General John Burgoyne who had moved south from Canada in June 1777 in order to cut off the middle and southern colonies from those in New England. On the way, Indian auxiliaries in his command murdered a young lady, Miss Jane McCrea, in a celebrated incident which fed the fuel of patriot propaganda that (as Jefferson put it in the Declaration of Independence) the King had "endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontier the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions."
The British thrust was turned back and warfare in New York State in 1778 and 1779 consisted of guerrilla raids by British supported Iroquois on interior New York settlements such as that at Cherry Valley. The raids led to a massive counter offensive planned by George Washington and commanded by General John Sullivan which entered the Iroquois homeland and applied a scorched earth policy to the villages and cornfields which the Indians had prudently abandoned. Years later, in 1790, when the Seneca leader, Cornplanter, was negotiating with Washington, he recounted that "When your army entered the country of the Six Nations we called you Town Destroyer; and to this day when that name is heard our women look behind them and turn pale, and our children cling close to the necks of their mothers."
In the inland areas of the South, even more powerful Indian nations existed than in the North The Southeastern nations could muster 14,000 warriors: 3,000 each among the Cherokees, Choctaws, and Creeks, plus 5,000 hardy Chickasaws.. The southern Indians had been subjected to the same encroachments by the colonists that the northern Indians had experienced. By the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals on the Watauga River in March 1775, the Transylvania Company had obtained a title of sorts to much of present day Kentucky and middle Tennessee. But the Cherokee chief Dragging Canoe had stalked out of the negotiations, warning that any attempt to settle the area would turn the land dark and bloody.
The patriots, who had appointed commissioners to deal with the Indians as prescribed by the Continental Congress, sought to persuade the natives that the King's agents were now superseded by themselves. In April 1776 a conference was held with representatives of the Cherokees, but most of the tribe absented themselves. The colonial representatives urged the Cherokees (and, in a later conference, the Creeks) to remain neutral and not be swayed by British arms or arguments. The American case was not persuasive and, in May 1776, a delegation from the north composed of Shawnees, Delawares, and Mohawks, arrived among the Cherokees and convinced them to take up the tomahawk against the encroaching Americans. Devastation soon followed on the frontier.16 The response of the southern colonies was similar to that in the North. Devastating strikes were made by American armies against the Cherokees. Like the Iroquois, the Cherokees chose to let their country be ravaged rather than attempt to engage the American columns in pitched battles. Instead, they retired further west and watched the colonial soldiers destroy their crops and houses. Like the Iroquois, though to a lesser degree, the Cherokees were riven by factional strife on how best to confront the deteriorating situation.
Thomas Jefferson's reaction to the Cherokee attacks on the frontier expressed his sense of the seriousness of the situation:
I hope that the Cherokees will now be driven beyond the Mississippi and that this in future will be declared to the Indians the invariable consequence of their beginning a war. Our contest with Britain is too serious and too great to permit any possibility of avocation from the Indians.
The fate of the Cherokees dampened the inclination of the Creeks to seek vengeance against the encroaching settlers at the possible cost of similar retaliation. Nevertheless, an opportunity to strike a coordinated blow occurred when late in 1778 a British fleet arrived in Georgia. Savannah fell to it, and a force was sent inland to Augusta. By virtue of poor communication (one might almost say a total lack of effective communication), John Stuart, the Indian superintendent in Pensacola, was uninformed of the move and was unable to bring Creek allies and local loyalists to the assistance of the British troops.
In March 1781, a Spanish fleet again appeared off Pensacola with a 4000 man army which overmatched 1500 British soldiers, 400 Choctaws, and 100 Creeks. After fierce fighting, in which the Indian allies of the British distinguished themselves, the garrison capitulated May 8, 1781. The fall of Pensacola was soon followed by the fall of Augusta and Savannah. British collapse in the South was imminent and the King's Indian allies were forced to choose their future course. The Cherokees and Chickasaws sought to negotiate peace with the Americans. The Creeks continued to stand with the British; the Choctaws wavered. When the British finally evacuated St. Augustine in 1783, they were astonished to find that numbers of their Indian allies sought to join them. As one Indian talk put it, "If the English mean to abandon the Land, we will accompany them - We cannot take a Virginian or Spaniard by the hand -We cannot look them in the face." The commandant of the garrison expressed his amazement at the Indian attitude:
The minds of these people appear as much agitated as those of the unhappy Loyalists on the eve of a third evacuation; and however chimerical it may appear to us, they have seriously proposed to abandon their country and accompany us, having made all the world their enemies by their attachment to us.
In the Preliminary Articles of Peace of 1782, no mention was made of the Indians. Despite their important role and visible presence, they had receded into the shadows of European diplomacy. Recognition of their existence and status was easier to ignore or deny in Europe than in America. Brant, the Mohawk, was outraged that the King seemed to be selling out the Indians to the American Congress. Daniel Claus, the British agent for the Six Nations in Canada, was astounded that the English negotiator in Paris, Richard Oswald, had ignored, or been ignorant of, the boundaries of the Indian country established by the Fort Stanwix treaty line of 1768. "It might have been easily reserved and inserted that those lands the Crown relinquished to all the Indn. Nations as their Right and property were out of its power to treat for, which would have saved the Honor of Government with respect to that Treaty," he wrote. Other Englishmen were outraged. "Our treaties with them were solemn," Lord Walsingham noted, "and ought to have been binding on our honour." Lord Shelburne, on the other hand, vigorously defended the Preliminary Articles, asserting that "in the present treaty with America, the Indian nations were not abandoned to their enemies; they were remitted to the care of neighbours."
The Spanish representative at the Paris negotiations, the Conde de Aranda, had similarly asserted that the territory west of the Appalachians to the Mississippi, which England grandly delivered to the American colonies, belonged to "free and independent nations of Indians, and you have no right to it." But the American negotiators rejected the Indian claim and asserted the full authority of the colonies to possess the lands west to the Mississippi.
In their succeeding negotiations with the Indians, the Americans attempted to convince the Indians that by choosing the losing side in the struggle they had lost all their rights. They asserted that the Indians were a conquered people. James Duane in 1784 advised the governor of New York not to treat with the Iroquois as equals, saying that "I would never suffer the word 'nation' or 'six nations' or 'confederates,' or 'council fire at Onondago' or any other form which would revive or seem to confirm their former ideas of independence they should rather be taught that the public opinion of their importance has long since ceased."
Neither the Iroquois, nor the Indians of the Old Northwest, nor those of the South, tamely accepted colonial assertions of sovereignty by right of conquest. Although most of the powerful nations which had hitherto held back the tide of English expansion had chosen the wrong side in the Revolution, they still possessed land and power only partially diminished by the war. The British government, embarrassed by the reproaches of their erstwhile allies, continued to hold the forts of the Old Northwest and to provide trade goods and sympathy to their Indian allies though refusing military aid for a renewed attack against the Americans. Attempts by American forces to impose their will on the Indians confirmed the fact that the Indians had not been conquered by the Americans during the Revolution, for these attempts were repeatedly frustrated. In 1790, General James Harmar's expedition into the Maumee Valley resulted in an embarassing failure. In 1791, General Arthur St. Clair's army was similarly defeated by the Indians near Fort Wayne, Indiana. In the South, McGillivray of the Creeks played off Spanish and American authorities, finally negotiating a treaty with the United States in New York in 1790. In 1794, General Anthony Wayne finally did manage to defeat the Northwest Indians at Fallen Timbers. But the resistance and strength of the natives had refuted the notion that conquest could be asserted rather than won.
With the formation of the Constitution and the establishment of a new government, Secretary of War Henry Knox, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, and President George Washington formulated a policy of honor and good will toward the native Americans. As expressed in the Northwest Ordinance, the policy asserted that:
The utmost good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians; their land and property shall never be taken from them without their consent; and in their property, rights, and liberty, they shall never be invaded or disturbed, unless in just and lawful wars authorized by Congress; but laws founded in justice and humanity shall from time to time be made, for preventing wrongs being done to them, and for preserving peace and friendship with them.
Yet the passions engendered by the American Revolution, despite the good will expressed in the formal policy enunciated by the government, was to lead to bitter and violent confrontations on the frontier. The bloody ground of Kentucky was to be repeated in region after region as the undisciplined and unregulated expansion of the American people got underway. In the end the Indian was the loser. That he would have been a loser even if the King had repressed the rebellion is probable; but his decline would not have been so swift or so bitter.
Some odd dates and events to further backup the assertion that native americans faught on the british side:
July 3, 1778 - British Loyalists and Indians massacre American settlers in the Wyoming Valley of northern Pennsylvania.
November 11, 1778 - At Cherry Valley, New York, Loyalists and Indians massacre over 40 American settlers.
April 1-30, 1779 - In retaliation for Indian raids on colonial settlements, American troops from North Carolina and Virginia attack Chickamauga Indian villages in Tennessee.
August 29, 1779 - American forces defeat the combined Indian and Loyalist forces at Elmira, New York. Following the victory, American troops head northwest and destroy nearly 40 Cayuga and Seneca Indian villages in retaliation for the campaign of terror against American settlers.
March 7, 1782 - American militiamen massacre 96 Delaware Indians in Ohio in retaliation for Indian raids conducted by other tribes.
August 19, 1782 - Loyalist and Indian forces attack and defeat American settlers near Lexington, Kentucky.
August 25, 1782 - Mohawk Indian Chief Joseph Brant conducts raids on settlements in Pennsylvania and Kentucky.
August 27, 1782 - The last fighting of the Revolutionary War between Americans and British occurs with a skirmish in South Carolina along the Combahee River.
November 10, 1782 - The final battle of the Revolutionary War occurs as Americans retaliate
against Loyalist and Indian forces by attacking a Shawnee Indian village in the Ohio territory.
While the Declaration of Independence claimed "equality" for all, the reality was that the wealthy planters and slaveholders of the Chesapeake or the rich merchants of the North did not intend to give up their slaves. It was convenient rhetoric to recruit needed troops to fight for their interests.
The British were keen to point out the blatent hypocrisy of the Declaration and actively recruited blacks to fight on their side. The continental army did likewise.
Mansfield's decision (top) outlawed slavery only in England; it did not apply to British colonies. But that was immaterial to American slaves. In January 1773, the General Court in Boston received the first of three petitions in which slaves pleaded their freedom with the argument that Mansfield's decision should indeed apply to the colonies, where they were "held in a state of Slavery within a free and christian Country."
By September 1773, the first of Virginia's 250,000 slaves were also trying to get "out of the Colony, particularly to Britain" - so noted John Austin Finnie's advertisement for runaways Bacchus and Amy - "where they imagine they will be free." The king was on their side - or so slaves thought - and against their masters, who feared a British-instigated slave revolt. Following the discovery in November 1774 of slaves conspiring to desert "when the English troops should arrive," James Madison wrote to William Bradford of his conviction that "If america & Britain come to an hostile rupture I am afraid an Insurrection among the slaves may & will be promoted" in an attempt to preserve Virginia for the crown of King George III.
When tensions between Dunmore and Virginia's ruling elite increased in early 1775, the ground was well prepared for his lordship to "arm all my own Negroes and receive all others that will come to me who I shall declare free," as he wrote to Dartmouth on March 1. Dunmore could argue that since the colonists were clamoring for English law, they could get a taste of it, Somersett and all. The slaves, on the other hand, considered the government in London and its local representatives to be sympathetic to their cause, and they were only waiting for the sign to take up arms to "reduce the refractory people of this Colony to obedience."
Armed conflict was looming, and Dunmore ordered Royal Marines to seize the gunpowder stored in the Williamsburg Magazine during the night of April 20-21. When Virginia threatened to erupt in open violence, Dunmore backed down. Forced to pay restitution for the powder, Dunmore lost his temper in front of the town leaders. Williamsburg resident Dr. William Pasteur heard the governor say that he would "declare freedom to the slaves and reduce the City of Williamsburg to ashes." He boasted he would have "all the slaves on the side of the government". By mid-May, rumors of Dunmore's plans had spread all the way to Boston, from where General Thomas Gage, Governor of Massachusetts, informed Dartmouth: "We hear that a Declaration his Lordship has made, of proclaiming all the Negroes free, who should join him, has Startled the Insurgents."
Gage was jumping the gun but not by much. On June 8, Dunmore fled Williamsburg for the safety of the man-of-war Fowey at Yorktown. The Virginia Convention quickly assured the governor of his own personal safety but expressed its extreme displeasure of this "most diabolical" scheme "meditated, and generally recommended, by a Person of great Influence, to offer Freedom to our slaves, and turn them against their Masters." But Dunmore felt that he had no alternative. His ranks reduced to some 300 soldiers, sailors, and loyalists, he let it be known that he welcomed supporters of any skin color. As word spread along the coast, about 100 black runaways reached Dunmore's fleet during the fall of 1775. In early November his troops routed a corps of Virginia militia at Kemp's Landing. That was the signal for the publication of Dunmore's long-anticipated proclamation to American slaves.
Dated November 7, it declared "all indented Servants, Negroes, or others (appertaining to Rebels,) free that are able and willing to bear Arms, they joining his MAJESTY'S Troops, as soon as may be, for the more speedily reducing this Colony to a proper Sense of their Duty, to his MAJESTY'S Crown and Dignity" This was not a general emancipation of slaves and indentured servants. Dunmore invited only those slaves to his banner who were owned by rebels, and of those, only males could bear arms.
The response was overwhelming. By December 1, about 300 runaways were carrying muskets and wearing the garb of Lord Dunmore's Ethiopian Regiment, the words "Liberty to Slaves" emblazoned on their chests. During the Battle of Great Bridge on December 9, they accounted for about half of Dunmore's 600 men. After losing 17 killed and 49 wounded, he retreated to his fleet.
The Virginia Convention decreed death to "all Negro or other Slaves, conspiring to rebel or make insurrection." Those who laid down their arms and returned within ten days would be pardoned; all others would be sold in the West Indies. To set an example, 32 black runaways taken at Great Bridge were ordered sold in the Caribbean in January 1776.
Despite a fever epidemic and reports of "Hungry bellies, naked backs, and no fuel... the most cruel and inhuman treatment," runaways were lured to the coast. On March 30, 1776, Dunmore informed Lord Germain: "I have been endeavoring to raise two regiments here - one of white people, the other of black. The former goes on very slowly, but the latter very well."
By the summer of 1776, at least 800 blacks "willing to bear arms" had joined Dunmore's force now quartered on Gwynn's Island. When he left Virginia for good on August 7, only about 300 were still alive; all others had died of fevers. Once Dunmore had cast anchor in New York seven days later, the regiment was dissolved, and the former soldiers left to fend for themselves.
It is hard to estimate how many free blacks and slaves served in the Royal Army, but whatever the number; it is only a fraction of those who were willing to wear red coats-if only the British had let them. It is not that the blacks were necessarily pro-British; first and foremost they were pro-black, prepared to support the side that held out the greatest hope for them to improve their lot. That side was the British, as their response to Dunmore's proclamation showed. But freedom, the price for black help in the war, was a price neither the British nor their loyalist allies were prepared to pay.
Despite bonuses and bounties, recruits were slow to sign up. To bring the Continental Army up to strength, Congress ordered the states in January 1777 to fill their units "by drafts, from their militia, or in any other way." As Virginia was unable to meet her quota of 10,200 men with volunteers, a draft based on the existing militia lists had to be considered. The Militia Act of the summer of 1775 had required that "all free male persons, hired servants, and apprentices between the ages of 16 and 50 years . . . be enrolled or forced into companies." This excluded slaves by definition, but free blacks were registered to serve, though "without arms."
Registration on a militia list was one thing, serving in the Continental Army quite another. The militia usually served short-term and hardly ever outside state boundaries. The Continental Army wanted long-term soldiers who served wherever needed, an unappealing prospect for Virginians at a time of heightened slave unrest and the threat of wholesale desertion of their black property to the British.
The lottery-based draft law enacted in May 1777 greatly increased the number of blacks in the Virginia Line. Free blacks were the first to be called up, as Virginia tightened the enforcement of the draft. "It was thought that they could best be spared," Governor Thomas Nelson informed George Washington.
Very few free blacks were as wealthy as James Harris of Charles City County, who was able to afford a substitute to fight in his place in 1780; most had no choice but to join up. But slave owners could afford substitutes and, when faced with a draft notice, many a master presented a slave to the recruiting officer for a freeman and a substitute. Many a runaway told the nearest recruiter that he was a freeman, anxious to fight.
Did the new country grant freedom from tyranny / slavery and equality? Yes ... but not for almost a hundred years after the British had and not overwhelmingly:
The overwhelmingly Republican Senate passed the Thirteenth Amendment by more than the necessary two-thirds majority on April 8, 1864. But not until January 31, 1865, did enough Democrats in the House abstain or vote for the amendment to pass it by a bare two-thirds. By December 18, 1865, the requisite three-quarters of the states had ratified the Thirteenth Amendment, which ensured that forever after "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude ... shall exist within the United States."
July 20, 1781 - Slaves in Williamsburg, Virginia, rebel and burn several buildings.
October 7, 1783 - In Virginia, the House of Burgesses grants freedom to slaves who served in the Continental Army.