A Black Revolutionary War Hero Finally Gets the Military Burial Honors He Deserved

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James Robinson was a black Revolutionary War hero who also served during the War of 1812 under Andrew Jackson. During both of those wars, he was promised his freedom by those who enlisted him (and other black men turned into soldiers); but when it was time to collect on that freedom, he was returned to slavery. And when he passed away in 1868 as a free man, he was unable to receive the military burial honors due him. Until now.

According to the Washington Post:

Robinson, an Eastern Shore native whose 1868 obituary described him as “loved by all and venerated by all,” was given a military funeral Saturday in his adopted hometown of Detroit.

Sponsored by two military legacy organizations, the event at the historic Elmwood Cemetery included an honor guard, a flag presentation, speeches, a 21-gun salute and the dedication of two bronze emblems representing the conflicts in which he fought: the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

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Robinson, who was born a slave in 1753 in Maryland’s Eastern Shore, spent the vast majority of his life in slavery despite fighting for the independence of America. He managed to gain his freedom sometime during the 1830s and was listed as a free man in Ohio in the 1840 census.

Research into his story, which ultimately led to the military honors ceremony, was spearheaded by historians from two military legacy organizations: the National Mall Liberty Fund D.C. and the Michigan Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, who pieced together the journey of his life through slavery, military service and freedom.

From the Post: 

Sponsored by two military legacy organizations, the event at the historic Elmwood Cemetery (Detroit) included an honor guard, a flag presentation, speeches, a 21-gun salute and the dedication of two bronze emblems representing the conflicts in which he fought: the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. representing the conflicts in which he fought: the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

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Robinson’s story represents one of about 5,000 black combat soldiers who fought during the American Revolution and a few thousand who served in the War of 1812.

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Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.