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Jim Geraghty @jimgeraghty
, 22 tweets, 11 min read Read on Twitter
It’s hard to tell the story of America without Crispus Attucks — widely regarded as the first man killed in the Boston massacre. The first blood shed in our fight for independence was that of a black man.
Peter Salem, present at Lexington and Concord and firing a key shot in the Battle of Bunker Hill.
George Washington’s army wasn’t going to be picky; it needed all the help it could get. That meant a lot of freed slaves and runaway slaves who told the recruiters that they were free!
At the Battle of Monmouth in June 1778, about 700 blacks fought side-by-side with whites. Eight weeks later, an army report listed 755 blacks in the Continental Army, including 138 Blacks in the Virginia Line.
Slave James Armistead’s master freed him to join the Marquis de Lafayette’s French forces. Lafayette used him as a spy in 1781, and the unsuspecting British ultimately gave him access to General Cornwallis’s headquarters.
Baron von Closen, a member of Rochambeau’s French army at Yorktown, estimated that a quarter of the American forces at that decisive battle were black.
Many who we would now describe as “Hispanic” fought for American independence as well. General Bernardo de Gálvez, governor of Spanish Louisiana, kept the British occupied on a second front throughout the war.
Galvez’s predecessor, Luis de Unzaga, “sent 10,000 pounds of much-needed gunpowder to the colonial troops at Fort Pitt (today’s Pittsburgh) to fend off British threats in the Western Theater.”
Bilbao merchant Diego de Gardoqui, “who had a long relationship with cod brokers in Marblehead and Salem, smuggled shiploads of muskets, shoes, uniforms, blankets, and gunpowder to New England.”
Two generations of Farraguts — Spanish-born Jordi Farragut Mesquida, a.k.a. George Farragut, and his son, David Glasgow Farragut, shaped the U.S. Navy in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
So far, historians have identified approximately 173 officers of Hispanic descent in the Union army.
Meanwhile, on the Confederate side, about 2,500 Mexican Texans joined the army. Santos Benavides rose to the rank of Colonel.
(Are you picking up the theme here? Just about every group’s been here for much longer and shaping the country in key ways than the popular narrative suggests.)
Filipino laborers deserted Spanish galleons in the port of New Orleans and formed their own settlements in the bayous of Louisiana. Within a few decades, the “Manilamen” joined the forces of Andrew Jackson during the Battle of New Orleans.
Wait, it gets even wilder. At least 58 Asian Americans ended up fighting in the Civil War, mostly on the Union side. Corporal Joseph Pierce, born in Canton, China, fought Pickett's Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg.
When the USS Maine blew up in Havana harbor, seven first-generation Japanese and one Chinese-American sailor were killed.
Roughly 100 Jews fought for American independence, the armies wouldn’t have been fed and clothed without the financial support of Haym Salomon, who was captured by the British twice and escaped twice.
In the 1840s, Turkish-born Hadji Ali — called “Hi Jolly” by Americans — helped the U.S. Army with an experiment of using camels to cross the great distances of the Western frontier.
By 1908, New York City had more than 300 Syrian businesses and 50 Arabic-language publications.
By 1915, there were 15,000 Indians in America, mostly Sikh.
By 1916, Ford Motor Company in Detroit counted 555 Syrians on the assembly lines.
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