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Who Are America's Forgotten Patriots
Between 1775 and 1783, some 6,000 to 10,000 American men, women, and children of African and Indigenous descent took up arms or provided aid and comfort for American democracy and freedom from the British Crown.
The Society of the First African Families of English America has launched the Forgotten Patriots Project to advance the knowledge and understanding of these patriots who served and provided aid and comfort during the Revolutionary War, and to focus on their important contributions to the founding of this nation.
Americans of African descent between 1760 to 1790 were a constant 20% of the colonial population. At the time of enlistment, the Forgotten Patriots were free, freed, and enslaved Americans who came from every corner of the thirteen colonies.
The Forgotten Patriots served in the Continental Army, state militias and in the Continental navy. They served as militia men, soldiers, mariners, scouts, spies, and the highest-ranking officer in the Continental Army was Colonel Joseph Louis Cook of African Indigenous descent.
The American Revolution
The War for Independence …also known as the American Revolution, secured American independence from Great Britain, and primarily took place on the American continent from April 19, 1775, through September 3, 1783.
American men of African and Indigenous descent fought from the very beginning of the War at the battles of Lexington and Concord, they came from each of the thirteen colonies and served in every major battle until the Battle of Yorktown, when the British surrendered.
In the spirit of Crispus Attucks who was the first to be killed by the British at the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770, men of African descent wore the uniform of the Continental Army or their State Militia and patriotically served when called.
The Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and on July 4, 1776 declared independence from Great Britain sparking the War for Independence. In the year 2026, America will commemorate our nation’s 250th anniversary.
Patriots of African Descent Monument
in Valley Forge National Park
Erected in 1993 by the Valley Forge Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Honoring Their Dedicated Service
In 2008, the Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution published the book Forgotten Patriots: African American and American Indian Service in the Revolutionary War, 1775-1783 documenting the names of over 6,600 patriots and includes “details of the documented service of the listed patriots, historical commentary on happenings of the time, and assortment of illustrations and an extensive biography of resource sources related to the topic.” The Daughters of the American Revolution has made this valuable research tool free on their website and includes periodic updates.
Outside of the tremendous work of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Society of the First African Families of English America’s Forgotten Patriots Project will be the largest effort to seek a better understanding of the historic contributions of these American heroes and their ancestors in colonial America.
Along with our partners, sponsors, and supporters we have established goals and objectives in getting a better perspective of the Revolutionary War and the role of Americans of African and Indigenous descent in their struggles for American independence and for their own freedoms and a sobering reflection on how Americans have remembered our own struggle for independence and how much we have forgotten …the Forgotten Patriots.