Celebrate the Fourth of July with Us

by Julie Hill

Posted on July 3, 2012

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July and we hope you enjoy the picnics and fireworks in your communities! Even more importantly, we also hope you take time to celebrate the founding of the United States, and the people from all walks of life that banded together to fight to gain its independence. The struggle would not be easy, nor without cost. It was not lightly that the signers of the Declaration of Independence pledged to each other "our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

The role of blacks in the Revolutionary War had gone largely unstudied until fairly recently. Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Jane E. Ailes, and others, facilitated the research and publication of a database providing new insight into the men and women of color who aided the cause of independence. Archives is proud to present their work in "Patriots of Color," a searchable database which is available for free at archives.com/patriots (introduced in February 2012).

patriots-of-color.jpgRecords in the Patriots of Color database summarize a variety of interesting facts for each person. This could include alternate names, description of service, federal and state pension numbers, federal and state bounty land warrant numbers, and a description of the person's complexion.

Solomon Bibby, described as "colored," served in the Continental Army from North Carolina. After the war, he was granted a federal pension, as well as land from both the federal government and the state of North Carolina.

Anthony Atkinson was a black privateer from Massachusetts who aided the patriot cause. Privateers were seamen who owned or worked on ships that were authorized to perform the same as a government war ship. Privateers working under the authority of the Continental Congress took their toll on British ships, resulting in military and monetary gains. (The National Park Service has a good overview about privateers)

You can learn more about how the Patriots of Color database was put together on the Research Methodology page. The Resources page has a list of more places where you can learn about those who served.

We are excited to help you discover people like Solomon Bibby, Anthony Atkinson, and maybe one of your ancestors too! During the Fourth of July holiday we encourage you to explore the Patriots of Color collection, and the other historical records available on Archives.com. Happy Independence Day!

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