Introduction to Whose Revolution
On the Great Seal of the United States designed by the Continental Congress during the war, a bald eagle holds in its beak an unfurled scroll emblazoned with the Latin words, “E Pluribus Unum”: “Out of Many, One.” Who were the “many” from whom the “one” would be formed?
In 1774, Caesar Sarter, a free African American living in Massachusetts had chided champions of American rights for their hypocrisy. “I need not point out the absurdity of your exertions for liberty, while you have slaves in your houses…one minute’s reflection is, methinks, sufficient for that purpose.” Once war broke out, both free and enslaved people engaged in the struggle as members of local militia and in Continental state regiments. More Native Americans from New England fought for independence than with the British. By the war’s end, an estimated15-20 percent of those serving in the Continental Army were people of color. Not all Americans wanted to separate from the mother country; some joined with others to fight alongside the British army. Women played a vital role in organizing and providing crucial supplies, including clothing, to soldiers in the field while running farms and businesses. Children growing during the conflict experienced the fears and deprivations of those years; some of those who grew old enough to join in the conflict would lose their lives.
Explore these and other stories contained in the artifacts and documents on this website that give voice to lesser-known revolutionary histories of men, women, and children often unknown outside their communities.