What is this? It appears to be a very old letter with a Ben Franklins postmark on it. It is addressed
From: Edward “Ned” Hector.
With a sincere and grateful heart for your kindness to a stranger, I wish for you all the joys freedom brings.
I finally found my way back to my time and regiment in Chester. I found me lads and fellow patriots weary, but in high spirits. We had faced the best army his Majesty could send, met the Redcoats on the field with a full measure of courage, and fought hard for the freedom we most earnestly desire.
Due to my fading memories of my time with you, I quickly shared with those of my regiment, my memories of you that evening. I told them of a coming time when all people will be able to learn together, lads and lasses, all people of color, rich and poor. I told them that our sacrifices and the sacrifices of those dear to us, will not be wasted. This country will be free! I told them of the wagons that go without horses, of the fire in the ceilings that Master Franklin’s work would make possible someday. Also I told of the small people in the boxes with the glass covers. I told them how General Washington would not only lead our army, but would lead all the united colonies by the vote of the people. Then he, after a while, would pass his power to another without war or bloodshed. The time is coming when we will be free of the evil that comes with having a king. To my fellow people of color, in time, our freedom would also come. We will be a people among many people struggling to be part of the United States.
Those that heard me decided that I must have had the misfortune of running into a tree or have had a musket ball strike me in the head - leaving me without sense. But we know the truth. Once again I leave you with my thanks and a request that you remember us. I pray you hold on to your freedom without abusing it. Remember everyone is important and each of you may make the difference whether we stay free. I am returning to my home in Conshohocken on our way to Valley Forge.
Farewell, I wish the best for your future,
Edward “Ned” Hector
September 11, 1777
Stamp Act – all official documents were required to carry a certain stamp on it to be valid, of course at a price.
Taxation without representation – Taxes could be made on you with out your say.
Quartering Act – Imagine you could be forced to take care of a soldier in your home whether you wanted to or not.
Think about [You could divide the class in half to take both positions.]
Hat - The hat came in many styles, not just the tri-corner type. It depended on the need. It could a stocking type if you were poor or gold threaded if your were well off. I wear a broad brim as a teamster because I need the shade and protection from the rain. [ See "cockade" to find out why one side is up.]
Civilian Coat - Remember I spend most my life outside. This coat serves as protection from the elements and sometimes waste that is thrown out of the windows. It's usually long and split in the back so I can sit in chairs and on horseback. The buttons on my sleeves were put there to discourage me from wiping my mouth and nose on my sleeves.
Neck Stock - I wear a triangular piece of cloth much like the Boy Scout's neck wear. I can use it for many purposes, such as a neck warmer, bandage, sweat band, tourniquet, napkin, or a sling. When it becomes thread bear I can cut it up for patches for the gun or sell it to the cloth monger who will turn it into paper.
Cockade - This decoration on the hat held one side of the hat up. This also could communicate what side one's loyalties belonged. By holding up one side of the hat it would allow me to carry something long like a gun on my shoulder. Normally it was the left side that was cocked up.
Waistcoat - This piece of clothing allows me to keep my body warm and allows me to remove my coat without out me being in the public in my underwear. [ See blouse.] I might leave the third or fourth button from the bottom as a manner of being stylish. If I take my coat off you will notice the back of my waist coat is split. This will allow my ever growing prosperity to be evident around my midsection [that is to say my fatness] without needing to buy a new waistcoat.
Blouse - This pull over shirt, with a collar and v-neck opening, is really my under wear. [Yes, it's my only underwear since you wondered.] At night I remove all clothing accept the blouse, which is actually is bundled in my breeches during the day and goes down to my knees when everything else is taken off. I wear it just about all the time. It's can be made of cotton, or linen.
Breeches - Breeches was a sign of manhood. A young boy would spend much of his childhood in a dress like his sister. This way it was easier to potty train children, which was outside most the time anyway. When a boy became old enough for his mother to make him breeches, they would have a breeching ceremony. This celebrated the boy becoming old enough to go out with his father and do a days work. [about 12 to 14 hours]
Stockings - These are very long socks that goes above my knee, keeping my lower leg warm and protected. These are much easier to replace than pants with shredded legs.
Garters - These are small belts, tapes [ribbon], or ropes that when tied around the top of the calf, would hold up one's stockings. Belt - My belt is used more to hold my tools [ knife, tomahawk, whip, purse (Yes, I said purse! We men carries our money in a purse. It's the style.), etc.]
Half Gaiters - These are ankle / shoe coverings are worn to sticks, stones, and objects out of my shoes when I'm in the woods. These are also called spatter guards from which the term "spats" comes from. [Ask your grand parents.]
Shoes - In general shoes were not made right & left. They were made right and left by wearing them. When they wore down one way you put them on the opposite feet to wear them down the other way. Most were fastened with buckles.
Gun - I carry a Pennsylvania Long Rifle and a "Brown Bess" musket. The differences between the two guns are distance and accuracy. The long rifle is accurate from 200 to 300 yards. It's accurate because of the groves in the barrel spins the bullet. It's primary use is a hunting gun. The musket has a smooth pipe-like barrel. It starts to become effective around 80 yards. This and its poor accuracy is why the armies had to stand so close to battle. There's a hole in my gun's stock in which I can put grease to help the bullet slide down the barrel. If you look close you'll see a stone in the "hammer" part of the gun. It provides the spark to set off the gunpowder.
Knife - My knife is made from an old file that had lost its raspy nature. Why should I discard such a fine hard piece of metal? Sharpen the edges and make a knife. It so happens that I also have the bottom part of a cow's leg bone from that cow that died a couple years ago. Because the bone is hollow and fits my hand quite comfortably, I used it as a handle for my knife with a little cloth to cover the rough places.
Tomahawk – This tool is most useful in the woods where I spend most of my time. This hatchet serves me as a hammer, or as something to cut wood with, or repair my log cabin with.
Tin Canteen – Sometime drinking water is not available, but I must confess water carried in tin takes on quite an unpleasant taste.
Purse – This bag on my belt holds my coins and valuables. Of course the continental paper money they pay me with is simply worthless.
Haversack - Is a bag I carry slung over my shoulder. I carry what I need in it to survive in the woods or away from home. The following are some of the things I carry in it.
Quill/Pen – I used a “pen knife” to cut the end of a feather for to write with.
All Blacks were not poor and enslaved. Edward “Ned” Hector is a free black man with the legal rights of any free man during his time. He is one of many free blacks. There are more free blacks in Pennsylvania than any of the other 13 colonies. The Quakers setting their slaves free is a big factor in this. Many free blacks group together to form black communities, like ones near Hanging Rock in Conshohocken where Ned comes from, and Log Town south of the Brandywine Battlefield. As a teamster, Ned might have a better than average education. He would need a good level of reading, writing, and ciphering (basic mathematics) skills for his job. Although he would be able to make a good living, teamsters would not be the most cultured of men.
One of the wealthiest men in Philadelphia would be a black man named James Forten.
George Washington at beginning of the War would make a declaration that neither slave or free blacks, would be allowed to fight in the continental army. Even though blacks like Prince Esterbrook, Peter Salem and Salem Poor had been fighting since the beginning of the war at places like Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill (Breed’s Hill) as Minutemen. But by the end of Washington’s life he seems to take a change of heart toward blacks and after his death he frees his slaves.
During the early 1800’s there would be a black man that would be knowledgeable in mathematics, like Dr Franklin, his name Benjamin Banaker. He would go on to also write an almanac and design the layout of Washington, DC.
Phyllis Wheatley, although bought as a slave at about the age of six, she would learn the American language quickly, and in several years she would be able to read and write Latin and Greek and go on to speak several languages. She would be one of the first women to publish her works in the colonies.
There were majority Black regiments, like the Rhode Island Regiment. Blacks would serve as sailors in units like Glover’s Mass. Marbleheaders.
There were black spies like James Armistead Lafayette who would pass on information about the British going to Yorktown.
Oliver Cromwell and Agrippa Hull would serve America as soldiers for the duration of the war.
Blacks fought on the British side as well as American. About 3-5 thousand people of color would fight for the Americans, 7-10 thousand people of color for the British.
By the end of the War about ten percent of the Continental Army would be people of color. Our Arm Forces would not have that degree of integration until the Korean War, over 150 years later!
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