“Alan Gilbert has deftly welded together the white American political revolution for independence with the black American social revolution for freedom from slavery. . . . Gilbert’s signal contribution to the fraught question of how many blacks fled to the British compels the attention of every student of the American Revolution.”
Gary Nash, The Unknown American Revolution: The Unruly Birth of Democracy and the Struggle to Create America
Black Patriots and Loyalists
Fighting for Emancipation in the War for Independence
|Publication Date: May 15, 2012 ||Cloth $30.00 • £19.50 |
|UK Publication Date: May 21, 2012 ||978-0-226-29307-3 |
We have been reading about the American Revolution since elementary school, so we may think we know the story of the colonists’ fight for independence from British rule. But, of course, that hard-won independence actually applied to only a portion of the American population—African Americans would still be bound in slavery for nearly another century. In Black Patriots and Loyalists, Alan Gilbert forces us to completely rethink what we know about the Revolutionary War, to realize that while white Americans were fighting for their freedom, black Americans were joining the British imperial forces in hopes of gaining theirs. There were actually two wars being waged at once: a political revolution for independence from Britain and a social revolution for emancipation and equality.
Drawing upon recently discovered archival material, Gilbert traces the intense imperial and patriot rivalry over recruitment and emancipation that led both sides to depend on blacks. He presents provocative—and persuasive—evidence that slavery could have been abolished during the Revolution itself if either side had fully pursued the military advantage of freeing slaves and pressing them into combat. Gilbert’s narrative tells the story of the free blacks on both sides who played a crucial and underappreciated role in the actual fighting. Black Patriots and Loyalists contends that the struggle for emancipation was not only basic to the Revolution itself, but was a rousing force that would inspire freedom movements the world over, like the abolition societies of the North and the black loyalist pilgrimages for freedom in places such as Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone.
Alan Gilbert is a John Evans Professor in the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. He is the author of Marx’s Politics: Communists and Citizens, Democratic Individuality, and Must Global Politics Constrain Democracy? He is available for interviews.