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Racial, Ethnic, and Religious Minorities in the Revolutionary War: A Resource Guide

Racial minorities and ethnic groups were pivotal to victory. Slavery was of immense benefit to winning. This guide comprises Library of Congress print and digital resources.


Racial and ethnic minority groups took part in the American Revolutionary War on both the Patriot and the Loyalist sides. They took part as soldiers and sailors; they provided intelligence on enemy troops and plans. They worked as craftsmen, laborers and farmers. Many were enslaved Africans and African Americans who served in various labor roles. Some African Americans won their freedom by joining the fight against the rebellion, as British soldiers. Other African Americans served in the Continental Navy as well as on merchant vessels. Various Native American tribes fought for both sides.

Immigrants and others sympathetic to the American rebellion took part in the struggle. They came from the Caribbean, France, various German states such as Hesse and Prussia, Ireland, Poland, Scotland, Spain and other European countries and regions to support the patriot cause. Foreign troops also took part in the war on both sides, especially from France and from German states. Many of these men remained in the new United States after the war.