Men, women and children of many nationalities, races, and beliefs created the United States. The American Revolution was truly everyone's revolution.
George Washington, Patrick Henry, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton-all heroes of the Revolution. But not everyone who fought that war was a white male of English descent. People from Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Poland, and France fought right beside them. A number of prominent figures in the Revolution were Jews. And many blacks joined Washington's army as well. By 1777, more than ten percent of the soldiers in the Continental army were black. One such soldier, Oliver Cromwell, was with Washington when he crossed the Delaware. Crispus Attucks fought and was killed in the Boston Massacre. Rhode Island was the first state to form a black regiment, 200 strong. In a battle near Newport, they fought off German troops fighting for England three times, saving the rest of Gerneral John Sullivan's army. From that day, the regiment was considered one of the finest in Washington's army.
In May, 1778, 49 Oneida Indians marched into Valley Forge to meet with Washington and join his army. Many of them became officers fighting the British in northern New York, and even when other tribes in the area sided with the Britich, the Oneida continued to fight for the Americans.
And the American forces included women, too. Deborah Sampson enlisted in the army as Robert Shurtleff, and fought in several battles before whe was discovered and discharged. Margaret Chochran Corbin took her husband's post at his cannon after he was killed. She saw action throughout the war, was wounded three times, and was the first woman to receive a military pension. Many women were spies, like Agent 13. She was a wealthy New Youker who provided Washington with valuable information on British troop movements. When the British found out what she'd done, they captured her and put her on a disease-ridden prison ship in New York harbor, where she died and was buried in an unmarked grave. No one has ever learned her name.
Not everyone in the army was even an adult. Boys enlisted as young as 12 or 13. Many of them became drummers, beating out orders to soldiers who couldn't hear an officer's voice above the noise of battle. They were as exposed as the soldiers, and had no gun to fight back with. It took courage to be a drummer.
Men, women, and children of many nationalities, races and beliefs created the United States. Their courage, determination and sacrifice are the reason we live free today. The American Revolution was truly everybody's revolution.
This booktalk was written by university professor, librarian, and booktalking expert Joni Richards Bodart.