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Discuss the role marginalized groups (women,blacks, Indians, etc.) played in the...

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newkirk7 | Honors

Posted May 13, 2013 at 4:00 PM via web

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Discuss the role marginalized groups (women,blacks, Indians, etc.) played in the Revolutionary War.

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 13, 2013 at 4:54 PM (Answer #1)

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Women experienced the Revolution and the war in a number of different ways. Many, of course, experienced bereavement as they lost husbands, sons, brothers, and other loved ones in the conflict. Many also were forced to maintain homes in the extended absence of men. Women joined large-scale protest against British rule in some occupied cities, such as New York, and pressured, through riots, storeowners to lower prices inflated by the war effort in some other towns. Many women participated more directly in the conflict as camp followers ( a very common element of eighteenth century warfare) and a handful actually fought, some of whom, including Deborah Sampson, have become quite well known. Still others served as nurses, battlefield orderlies (like the famous "Molly Pitcher," and in other auxilliary capacities. 

African-Americans played a complex role in the war. In the South, fear of slave revolt, and the belief that the British were actively fomenting one, played a major role in encouraging people to join the Whig, or Patriot cause. This was true in Virginia, where governor Dunmore called on men of color to flock to his banner in an effort to repress the Revolution, and in Georgia and South Carolina, where thousands of slaves fled their plantations and sought out British lines. Some black men chose, or were forced to, serve with the Americans, and some all-black units won distinction in the conflict, particularly the First Rhode Island Regiment. None of the southern colonies, contrary to myth, offered freedom to slaves who joined the war effort, instead all of them offered slaves as a bounty to white men to join up. 

For Native Americans, the Revolution was, as it was for backcountry whites, a civil war. Most Indian peoples suffered internal disagreements over how to deal with the conflict, or which side to choose. The majority of Indian peoples chose the side of the British, recognizing that one of the goals of the Revolution was territorial expansion that would result in their destruction. Many Indian leaders participated actively in the conflict, with Mohawk leader Joseph Brant being the most conspicuous. With the American victory, they of course suffered removal, imprisonment, and even massacre. Many Natives who tried to stay neutral, or even those who sided with the Americans, suffered the same fate. In fact, it was often American aggression that drove many Indians into the British fold, as was the case with a Cherokee faction that initially supported the Americans. For most Native people, the war was an unmitigated catastrophe, one which led to the destruction of villages and farms, and ultimately to their relocation west of the Appalachians. Even the Tuscaroras and the Oneidas, who had fought on the side of the Americans, saw their lands taken in the aftermath of the war.

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