A People's War
That Declaration of Independence did it . On July 4, 1776, we Americans announced that we were free . Of course, England wasn't going to give up her colonies without a fight. But American people fought for a revolutionary idea: the idea that they could rule themselves. And so it was called a revolutionthe American Revolution. It was a people's war ; men, women and children took part. Women did things they hadn't done before , they ran farms and businesses, sewed clothes for soldiers, and helped make gunpowder and cannonballs. Deborah Sampson disguised herself as a man, served in the army for three years, and was wounded twice, taking care of her own wounds to avoid being found out. Yet equal work did not make women really free. They were still ruled by their fathers or husbands. They couldn't vote. Abigail Adams pointed this out to her husband: "Whilst you are proclaiming peace and goodwill to men ... you insist upon retaining an absolute power over wives ."
What about African-Americans? No one knows the number for sure, but about 5,000 black men and boys are said to have fought on the American side during the Revolutionary War. Fourteen year old James Forten wanted to be a part of it. Like everyone in Philadelphia, he'd heard those words, "all men are created equal." James signed on as a powder boy on an American ship and fought bravely. He was imprisoned by the British, but then offered a chance to live in England. Forten wouldn't consider it. He was an American and he said, "I shall never prove a traitor to my country."
But why would blacks fight for a nation that allowed slavery ? This war for freedom and equality was confusing .