With the revisionist history that abounds, many times, our children only learn about the most recent of the great black Americans who have blessed this country with their hard work and sacrifice, such as Martin Luther King Jr.
This is an unfortunate oversight about our nation’s black heritage. In another book from Wallbuilders, written by Dr. David Barton called “American History in Black and White,” he details some of the amazing African American leaders we had in the early years of this country that we never hear about.
James Armistead helped make the 1781 victory at Yorktown possible. Peter Salem fought as a Minuteman and was a hero at the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775. Prince Whipple and Oliver Cromwell, both black, are pictured in the front of the famous painting depicting General George Washington crossing the Delaware on Christmas night.
Barton’s book makes note of so much black history that we never hear about. For example, he points out that the officers who arrived with the very first slave ship that came to the colonies in 1619 were imprisoned and all the captured slaves were returned to Africa.
If you listen to certain cable commentators who don’t know their history, you would think all 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were fierce supporters of slavery and owners of slaves. Not true. Samuel Adams, Stephen Hopkins, Benjamin Rush, Elbridge Gerry, James Wilson, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin, John Witherspoon and many others were staunchly against slavery.
Our nation’s first black senator was Hiram Rhodes Revels, a minister from Mississippi. Ironically, he took the seat once held by Jefferson Davis, who served as the President of the Confederate States of America.
At that time, there were more blacks than whites living in Mississippi, and they voted overwhelmingly Republican. In fact, at the time, they could only find one black Democrat – imagine that now. The rise of the Ku Kux Klan came from Democrats not wishing the black Republicans to cast votes in the states, according to the facts presented in Barton’s book.
Josiah Walls of Florida was forced to serve in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. He was eventually captured by the North and, upon his release, he immediately joined the Union forces and went on to become an officer. He was twice elected to the House of Representatives but his election was challenged both times by Florida Democrats. Once, he prevailed and returned but the second time, the Democrats had gained the House back in Florida and he was forced to relinquish his seat.
South Carolina’s Robert Brown Elliott was highly educated and was able to read in four languages. He sponsored civil rights bills that were vigorously challenged by the Democrats and eventually served at Speaker of the House in the State legislature.
So many heroes and ground-breakers. I hope you will take the time to read Barton’s book or at least find out more about these and the other early American black leaders. Check out other fantastic books about our founding history at www.wallbuilders.com.