A Commentary of Alexander Hamilton on Slaves Serving as Soldiers: The Constitution Reader Challenge

In a letter to John Jay, Alexander Hamilton wrote about slaves earning their “freedom with their muskets.”

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The American Revolution had been going on for a few years when this letter from Alexander Hamilton wrote John Jay. The reason for his letter was about some of the contention over allowing slaves to take arms and defend America from the British.

In the North, the blacks had already begun to fight, but there was some opposition from the Southern colonies. Those in the South were concerned that if their slaves were given arms, they might turn on their owners. The blacks in the South didn’t taste of those same freedoms their counterparts did in the North.

One of the freedoms they tasted was defending what they believed. What they believed was freedom. It was the reason for the very existence of America, and they knew it. Those in the South, wanted that.

So what did Alexander Hamilton have to say? He said:

“An essential part of the plan is to give them their freedom with their muskets. This will secure their fidelity, animate their courage, and I believe will have a good influence upon those who remain, by opening a door to their emancipation.”

Allowing any man to secure their “freedom with their muskets” was the very reason for the American Revolution. Petitioning men of the South to allow slaves to take part was unheard of to them. However, while some had already taken up arms, estimates of some 5000 blacks would serve as soldiers during the war. Something that certainly opened “a door to their emancipation” years later under the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.

Today, we enjoy many freedoms thanks to the countless patriots of yesteryear. Hundreds of thousands of blacks serve in the ranks of our military, and to them we owe many thanks. And, thanks to those patriots, regardless of race, who stood for what they believed in during the American Revolution.

With special thanks to Constituting America and Heritage College, we will be taking part in their project: The U.S. Constitution: A Reader. It is a 90 day challenge to learn and dive deeper into understanding the Constitution.

In case you missed it, catch up with previous commentaries HERE. We hope you are enjoying this journey to dig deeper into what inspired those who wrote the Constitution. If you are, TWEET IT!

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