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Salem, Peterlocked

(1750–16 August 1816)
  • Dennis Wepman

Extract

Salem, Peter (1750–16 August 1816), African American soldier in the American Revolution, was born a slave in Framingham, Massachusetts, his birth traditionally celebrated on 1 October in his hometown. The names and occupations of his parents are unknown. He was owned by the New England army captain Jeremiah Belknap, who is believed to have named him for his own earlier residence in Salem, Massachusetts. Belknap sold him to Major Lawson Buckminster around 1775. Although African Americans had not been legally eligible to serve in the military since 1656 for fear of slave insurrections, the Committee of Safety in Massachusetts allowed the recruitment of free blacks for the Framingham militia in May 1775. Major Buckminster freed Salem to enable him to enlist in Captain Simon Edgel's company, a special force prepared to serve at a minute's notice. As one of the few black “minutemen,” Salem fought in the Battle of Concord and Lexington, Massachusetts, the first confrontation of the American Revolutionary War, on 19 April 1775 and five days later enlisted in Colonel John Nixon's Fifth Massachusetts Regiment....

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