Who Were The Bucks of America? Our Country's Forgotten Black Heroes
The Bucks of America was a Massachusetts militia during the Revolutionary War, and the only “all Black” military unit made up of African-American soldiers. These free men volunteered as patriots to fight in this war, segregated from white soldiers. In 1775, George Washington decided to stop enlisting Black soldiers but soon reversed this due to the lack of manpower and the need for more men in battle. I learned about these men recently, while doing some historical research during my spare time. I was surprised and intrigued. While the Revolutionary war has been a part of standard American history education for years, the Bucks of America was never on any curriculum that I can recall. During my indulgence of articles and online videos, I learned that there are four known members of the Bucks, who include Primus Hall, Prince Hall, Barzillai Lew, and the leader George Middleton.
Primus Hall (1756-1842) Enlisted at the age of 19 in the 5th Massachusetts Regimen. Primus Hall was also active in signing and submitting petitions to the state legislature regarding slavery starting in 1788. After the war, he had seven children and was married three times. He was a prosperous property owner who lived out the rest of his life in Boston.
Prince Hall (1735-1807) A member who was also believed to have fought at Bunker Hill. He was active in the affairs of the Black citizens of Boston, often using his platform to speak out against slavery. He worked hard for the educational rights of Black children and was a huge supporter in the movement for Black Americans to return to the motherland. He felt that America was the white man’s country, and no amount of rights would change that.
Barzillai Lew (1743-1822) A drummer and fifer who also fought at Bunker Hill alongside Prince Hall. He enlisted in the 27th Regiment in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. After his time as a soldier, he sold his family farm. Living in Chelmsford, he spent his years working as a copper making barrels.
George Middleton (1735-1815) Was the commander and the face of the Bucks of America. He was a violinist, a horse trainer, and a coachman. He was also an activist for Black rights in Massachusetts. His home, which can be found on Beacon Hill in Boston, Massachusetts is open to the public and serves as a learning experience and a history lesson for those who want to learn more about the Bucks and their place in the Revolutionary War.
These men were honored with the flag in 1789 by John Hancock, the Governor of Massachusetts at the time. The Bucks of America is a legendary example of Black men in history who fought for their country during a time when they were considered second class citizens. These brave men put their lives on the line while still fighting for the same rights as their white counterparts. According to a 2017 statistic by Statistic Brain, only 17% of Black Americans make up the military, across all branches. Which brings up the age-old question that generations of African-Americans have been asking: “Do we belong in the military? What do we really benefit from fighting for a country that never seems to truly fight for us?” These men lived, fought, and campaigned to be remembered by generations to come, and their memories shall live on in the archives of our history forever.
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