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Race Relations During The Revolutionary War: Salem Poor

1039 words - 5 pages

Salem Poor was a slave from Andover, Massachusetts. Salem Poor is a perfect example of race relations during the time of the Revolutionary War as Poor was described as a war hero, but did not receive the treatment he deserved. Historians have argued that Poor is a forgotten hero because of his race. It begs the question if would he be forgotten heroes if he had been a white man as many political figures built their reputations in the war. Salem Poor defied the stereotype of African Americans who had small roles in the Army, but was not rewarded for his efforts. While his peers commended Poor’s bravery in the battle, not much came out of it in terms of race relations. Poor fought for ...view middle of the document...

Poor is known for his bravery at the Battle of Bunker Hill, and received recognition from his fellow soldiers showing that soldiers fighting on the battle field could for the most part put aside race and recognize a hero. There was a petition from Colonel Becket that said that Poor “acted like an experienced soldier,” and was a “brave and gallant soldier.” The petition went on to say that a “reward [was] due to so great and distinguished a character.” Poor was credited with killing British Lieutenant- Colonel Abercrombie. 14 officers signed the petition as witnessing Poor’s brave actions to honor his heroism and give him a monetary reward for his achievements in the battle. No one knows what the particulars of what Poor did during the battle. Historians are left to surmise what he did during the battle Shelly Barclay surmise “he went beyond what was expected of him to be spoken of in such a way by so many officers, one of who was the colonel.” It is important to note that no other man was honored in the same way Poor was.
Despite Poor being recognized by the American Army, the United States government failed to reward a hero showing a disregard for African American contributions to the war effort. Salem Poor represents the almost 5,000 men who fought during the Revolution, none of which were afforded real freedom after the war. Salem Poor was unable to enjoy a real fitting recognition for his brave actions, as the court did nothing with the petition. This was not the first time the courts failed was done with the petition that was written on Poor’s behalf. The African American community struggled to get recognition for their actions and the courts failing to recognize Poor turned into an “active climate of oppression.” Poor continued to fight on however with “selfless dedication.” Poor fought in the war for American freedom, something he would not achieve himself, but he continued to fight on.
Attitudes from the Continental Army, along...

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