Were women and people of color welcomed participants in the rebellion against Great Britain?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I would say that women and people of color were welcomed only grudgingly, if at all, in the rebellion against Great Britain.  People from these groups were often excluded from participation in the rebellion.  When they were welcomed, it was generally only in desperation and/or if they served only in those ways that were acceptable to the white men who were in power.

African Americans were the most important group of people of color living within American society.  The vast majority of them were slaves.  The Patriots were, in general, very reluctant to accept these people as part of the rebellion.  African Americans were accepted readily by the US Navy and by privateers.  However, the Continental Army at first did not want to accept blacks.  George Washington prohibited them from serving in the army for a time.  It was only later, when the Continental Army clearly needed manpower that blacks were allowed to join.  Even then, they were typically not allowed in combat but were given menial, supporting roles.

Women were never allowed to participate openly in the rebellion as fighters.  The Patriots were happy to have women help in the rebellion in a variety of ways.  For example, Patriot leaders were happy to have women help implement the nonimportation efforts that were put in place before the war began.   They were also willing to allow women to allow women to serve the army as camp followers, doing things like cooking and washing for the men. 

In these ways, non-whites and women were not welcomed as equal participants in the rebellion.  When they were allowed, it was only if they would participate in ways that were acceptable to the white men in power.

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