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Crane, John (07 December 1744–21 August 1805), soldier and patriot, was born in Braintree, Massachusetts, the son of Abijah Crane and Sarah Beverly. Crane entered into his profession of soldiering at an early age. In 1759 he volunteered to serve in the French and Indian War in the place of his father, who had been drafted. Nothing specific is known of his service in that war. He returned from the conflict and learned the trade of housewright. In 1767 he married Mehitable Wheeler. That same year he set up a shop with his brother on Tremont Street in Boston and soon became associated with the organization of the Sons of Liberty. It is not known whether Crane wrestled with the competing notions of loyalty to the king and patriotism for Massachusetts, but in 1773 some members of the group that undertook the Boston Tea Party met at his shop and dressed themselves as Indians prior to the event. Crane went to the tea ships with his fellows, and while in the hold of one of the three ships, he was knocked unconscious when a tea chest fell on him. His companions took him to be dead and left him buried underneath a pile of wood shavings in a carpenter’s shop near the wharf, but Crane recovered....

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Hale, Nathan (06 June 1755–22 September 1776), martyr of the American Revolution, was born in Coventry, Connecticut, the son of Richard Hale and Elizabeth Strong, successful farmers. A sickly infant, he barely survived his first year, but as he grew he became an outdoorsman and a powerful athlete. He enjoyed reading, and his father decided to prepare him for the ministry, first by hiring Rev. Joseph Huntington to tutor him and then by sending him in 1769 to Yale College. At Yale he was widely admired by his teachers and fellow students. Dr. ...

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Hull, Agrippa (1759–1848), revolutionary war soldier, was born a free African American in Northampton, Massachusetts, of unknown parentage. He was taken to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, at the age of six by Joab, an African-American former servant to Jonathan Edwards. When Hull was eighteen years old, in May 1777, he enlisted to fight in the revolutionary war as a private in General ...

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Lafayette, James (1748–09 August 1830), patriot spy, also known to history as James Armistead, was born in slavery; little is recorded of his parentage or early life except that he belonged to William Armistead of New Kent County, Virginia. In the summer of 1781 James was attending his master while Armistead worked as a commissary in Richmond, supplying patriot forces under the command of the ...

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Lewis, Andrew (09 October 1720–26 September 1781), military, political, and economic leader, was born in County Donegal, Ireland, the son of John Lewis and Margaret Lynn, farmers. Lewis’s mother was a cousin of James Patton, who would also play a leading role in the development of southwestern Virginia. During Lewis’s childhood, the family left their substantial farm, migrated first to Pennsylvania, and reached Augusta County, Virginia, by about 1732. They were among the area’s earliest white settlers. Lewis married Elizabeth Givens; they settled, with their children, along the Upper Roanoke River....

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Ranger, Joseph (1760?–?), revolutionary war seaman, was born probably in Northumberland County, Virginia, to unknown parents. Ranger was a free African American, or perhaps a runaway slave, who probably worked as a seaman in Northumberland County and Elizabeth City County before the revolutionary war. In the early eighteenth century, Virginia’s waters were sailed extensively by free African Americans and slaves who also worked in the colony’s two shipyards. Despite long-standing concern among the elite in the South about arming even free African Americans for fear of inciting slave revolt, the maritime experiences of Virginia’s African Americans made them prime candidates for enlistment in the state navy (just as many African-American seamen served in the Continental navy)....

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Patrick G. Williams

Sisson, Jack (1743?–1821), soldier, was also known as Tack Sisson, Guy Watson, or Prince. He was one of those African-American patriots whose lives were allowed by their contemporaries to become shrouded in obscurity. Little record exists of his whereabouts, activities, or circumstances before or after the exploit for which he is noted—the July 1777 abduction of Brigadier General Richard Prescott, commander of the redcoat garrison at Newport, Rhode Island. Sisson was among the forty volunteers Lieutenant Colonel ...