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Did You Know? . . . Marbleheaders

God says: “Let justice roll down like water, and righteousness like an evrflowing stream. -Amos 5: 24

The 14th Continental Regiment was one of the very few racially integrated regiments during the Revolutionary War, and they played a critical role in aiding George Washington and his troops cross the Delaware River. This group of men, including many black men, both free and enslaved, were fishermen and mariners from Marblehead, MA and became known as the Marbleheaders.  

On Christmas Day 1776, despite the bitter cold, the lack of suitable uniforms, the approaching nor’easter, and the physically grueling work under cover of darkness, the Marbleheaders repeatedly rowed Durham boats, carrying thousands of men, along with their horses and artillery, across the Delaware River from Pennsylvania to New Jersey in preparation for attacking the Hessians in the now-famous Battle of Trenton.

This was one of many, many instances in which free and enslaved black men and women, as well as indigenous people, contributed mightily to the success of America in the Revolutionary War. Now there is an attempt to finally recognize them. In 2013

the United States Congress passed a bill, signed into law by President Barack Obama, that authorized the National Liberty Memorial. It was to be a “commemorative work to slaves and free black persons who served in the American Revolution” as soldiers, sailors, or civilians. A non-profit organization, the National Mall Liberty Fund D.C., was authorized to raise private funds to build the memorial on or near the National Mall. There was a seven-year time limit on raising those funds. That period has now expired. So last week Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey introduced a bill to extend the period for fund-raising another five years. The bill was approved by the House by voice vote. The bill is now in the Senate.