Linda and I came across a quote about a skirmish in New York state with a group of loyalists called Delancey's Tories, where Colonel Christopher Greene was killed. It said: "the sabers of the enemy only reached him through the bodies of his faithful guard of Blacks, who hovered over him to protect him and every one of whom was killed." That quote was in dozens of books.
I wanted to find out what the place looked like for my illustrations, so I went to the Yorktown Museum in Yorktown Heights, NY.
They hadprimary source documents there about the skirmish. Theseincluded a loyalist newspaper account, and a documentby a woman who was a child living in the house at the time of the attack, written when she was an old woman. The accounts were different, and neither mentioned the "faithful guard...every one of whom was killed."
It was an "aha" moment for me. We don't really know exactly what happened, and we never will.
The unit that Greene was commanding was definitely integrated. There is evidence that some black soldiers were captured and sold back into slavery. Maybe the author of the statement had additional information available, but the statement seems woven with a bit of supposition. It really made me think.
4. People of color have been full and active participants in the United States from the get-go.
This is a ridiculously simple-minded conclusion. Of course, Native Americans were here before Europeans. Long before! But did you know that by many accounts, 1 of 6 men who served in the Revolution were men of color? That Americans enslaved Native Americans in states such as RI? That there were Blacks in Jamestown in 1690? That initially slaves/servants were able to earn their way out of slavery and purchase property, but one by one, laws were passed to revoke these rights for Blacks? That eventually, laws were passed in some places to prevent owners from freeing their own slaves without getting permission from the state?
I discovered so many things that no one taught me in school. I felt amazed, a little embarrassed by my lack of knowledge, and a little angry with simplistic, white-washed educational texts.
5. Rhode Island is a spectacularly beautiful state.