American Revolution

Start Free Trial

How did the American Revolution impact US racial minority groups?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The American Revolutionary War impacted African Americans and Native Americans in a negative manner. Despite the ideals of the American Revolutionary War regarding equality and freedom, slavery continued to exist in the United States for many years. Even in places in the North where slavery was supposed to end, it continued well into the 1800s. Slavery continued in the South until the end of the Civil War in 1865. While some African Americans received freedom as a result of the Revolutionary War and its ideals, slavery continued to dominate the way of life in the South.

The Revolutionary War also negatively impacted the Native Americans. The Americans believed that the Native Americans helped the British during the war. When the peace treaty ending the war was negotiated, the Native Americans had no representatives at the meetings. The United States believed that by defeating the British, they also had defeated the Native Americans. The Native Americans also lost land, as Great Britain gave the United States land between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River.

The Revolutionary War generally negatively impacted both African Americans and Native Americans.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The two main groups in this question are African Americans and Native Americans.  During his southern campaign, the British General Cornwallis promised freedom to any slave who escaped and join the British side.  This alienated Southern planters who before this viewed the war  as a fight of Northeastern shopkeepers against Parliament.  Not only did this cause many Southerners to join the patriot cause, but many slaveowners also tightened their grip on their slaves, passing even more stringent punishments on those who showed any signs of disobedience.  Furthermore, the slaves who did run away and join the British army escaped into Canada after the war, rather than go back to the plantations.  Some slaves and freed men helped the colonial army in the North, but their numbers were quite small.  

The Native Americans, who helped the British army during the war, were treated very harshly afterwards.  After the war, the American government signed many treaties with the Native Americans west of the Appalachians in order to push them off of this coveted land.  The end of the war would mark a new bloody chapter in white-native relations, as Britain did not pull out of the Great Lakes region as dictated by the 1783 Treaty of Paris.  

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

At the time of the American Revolution, there were two major racial minorities in the United States.  These were African Americans, most of whom were enslaved, and the Native Americans who were mostly separate from colonial society.  Neither of these groups got any benefit from the Revolution.  In fact, the Native Americans were hurt by it to some degree.  African Americans as a group were not strongly affected.

Some African Americans were affected.  The British promised freedom to slaves who fought for them.  In addition, the same promise was made to some African Americans by the colonists.  The war helped some of these African Americans, who were set free either in the new United States or with the British in Nova Scotia.  However, some were still enslaved in spite of the promises made to them.  As a group, African Americans were not affected much by the Revolution.  The mass of African Americans were slaves before, during, and after the Revolution.

Native Americans were generally harmed by the Revolution.  The British had protected Native Americans to some degree from westward expansion by the colonists.  This was seen most clearly in the Proclamation of 1763.  For this and other reasons, most Native Americans who took sides in the war sided with the British.  When the Americans won the war, they got all the lands east of the Mississippi.  They soon pushed the Native Americans out of these lands.  Thus, the Native Americans suffered from the Revolution because it helped ensure that they would be driven off their ancestral lands.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial