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news releases

November 21, 2008

Contact: Elaine Makatura (609) 292-2994
Darlene Yuhas (609) 984-1795


(08/54) TRENTON - Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Commissioner John S. Watson Jr. and Secretary of State Nina Mitchell Wells today unveiled a traveling exhibit entitled “Oh Freedom! Blacks on the Battlefront and in the Aftermath of the American Revolutionary War in New Jersey” at the New Jersey State Museum. 

The exhibit spotlights African-Americans’ contributions on the battlefront during the American Revolutionary War and their outcomes at the War’s end. 

“New Jersey has a remarkable historic significance as the ‘Crossroads of the American Revolution.’ I am delighted to unveil this exhibit today as it opens our eyes to realize anew the contributions of African Americans to New Jersey’s rich history and to expand New Jersey’s growing historic-preservation constituency,” Deputy Commissioner Watson said.

"The Oh Freedom! exhibit is a wonderful addition to the State Museum, and we're so happy that it will be here until the end of the year," said Secretary Wells. "It's often said that the history of America is the history of New Jersey, and this exhibit is yet another example of the rich historical imprint our state has contributed to the American experience."

Blacks fought on both sides during the War, seeking personal freedom while many American colonists sought political freedom. Black soldiers comprised nearly 5,000 or 20 percent of American troops. On the British side, the number who served is estimated to approach 10,000. Blacks joined whichever side they believed offered them the best prospect of freedom. 

The exhibit’s name “Oh Freedom!” captures the key reason blacks chose to serve: freedom from slavery and oppression. The exhibit’s three double-sided panels feature details about both British Loyalist and American Rebel freedom fighters and references authentic documents from the New Jersey State Library and Archives and other sources.  The traveling exhibit will be showcased at New Jersey historic sites and various other locations statewide.

The traveling exhibit will be on display at the New Jersey State Museum through Jan. 4. For more information, visit



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Last Updated: December 26, 2008