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At the dawn of the American Revolution, the chains of enslaved and
oppressed blacks clanged while cries for political freedom from British
rule rang. Perhaps blacks could earn their freedom through serving in the impending War.

Blacks took a chance, siding with either the British Loyalists or the American
Rebels-whomever they believed offered the best prospects for freedom.
Blacks were present at all of New Jersey’s key battles and served on both


In the aftermath of the War, much was achieved while much remained
uncertain. Some lost their lives or emigrated out of the new nation to realize their freedom.
Others were highly esteemed for their service or spent decades more enslaved.

These black soldiers, whether Rebels or Loyalists, were pioneers of personal freedom for all blacks in the New World.

Phillis Wheatley, Poetess, 1774 In every human Breast, God has implanted a Principle which we call Love of Freedom; it is impatient of Oppression and pants for Deliverance.”


Phillis Wheatley, Poetess, 1774
Excerpt, Letter to Reverend Samson Occom


Abigail Adams, wife of President John Adams, 1774

It always appeared a most iniquitous scheme to me to fight ourselves for what we are daily robbing and plundering from those who have as good a right to freedom as we have.”

Abigail Adams, wife of President John Adams, 1774
Excerpt, Letter to John Adams


With what consistency, or decency they complain so loudly of attempts [by the British] to enslave them, while they hold so many hundred thousands in slavery; and annually enslave thousands more, without any pretence of authority, or claim upon them?

Thomas Paine, Author, 1775
Excerpt, African Slavery in America


Photos Courtesy of Library of Congress

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Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: April 20, 2009

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