March 09, 2014

On this day March 9th

DARC Ethiophile Chronicles

On this day

The French And Indian War (The Seven Years War 1756-1763) began on March 9, 1756.

England and France had been building toward a conflict in America since 1689. These efforts resulted in the remarkable growth of the colonies from a population of 250,000 in 1700, to 1.25 million in 1750.

Black Troops in the French and Indian War: Even before the Revolutionary War, a pattern had been established in British colonies whereby African Americans were enlisted to defend the colonies when they were attacked, but were excluded from military service in times of peace. When Major General Edward Braddock's forces were defeated in the French and Indian War in 1775, Virginia was forced to utilize free African Americans in its colonial military. Yet the colonial legislature refused to use African Americans in combat positions, preferring to relegate them to labor positions and service as scouts.

Once armed, African Americans might, it was feared, turn their weapons on the colony in an attempt to free the slaves. George Gire of Grafton, Massachusetts, fought in the French and Indian War. Because of the injuries he received in that war, he was awarded an annual pension of forty shillings. Gire, along with Benjamin Negro, and Caesar of Rhode Island, was part of an emerging class of free African Americans in the Northeast, where slavery was declining as an agriculturally profitable system of labor.

Thus, unlike slaves who were often forced into service by their masters, Gire along with his Black compatriots, represents the first example in American history of free African Americans fighting for the British colonies.

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