Date of Award

Spring 2023

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Eliga H. Gould

Second Advisor

Cynthia Van Zandt

Third Advisor

Jason Sokol


“Friends, Brothers, and Citizens” examines the lives of the American Revolutionary War’s Northeastern Patriots of color. While historians have focused on these men’s decisions and actions during the war itself, this work draws attention to another vital part of their stories: the rest of their lives. To best demonstrate their impact, “Friends, Brothers, and Citizens” frames these men as a multiracial and generational cohort whose commitment to those around them clearly shaped movements to win relief and rights for people of color throughout the early republic. Chapter 1 examines these men’s wartime strategies to support their families and wider communities. Those decisions foreshadow the postwar years these men spent fighting for causes that were bigger than themselves. These efforts are highlighted in Chapters 2 and 3, when this cohort transitioned out of the military. In spite of the systemic challenges these men faced, these chapters highlight dozens of examples of Patriots who devoted themselves to projects that supported their families and communities. As the men in this cohort aged, though, they required new support. Chapter 4 examines these elderly men and their federal pension applications. Regardless of their race and legal standing, veterans of color used the pension benefit to argue for a more inclusive version of American citizenship. After they died, their descendants took up this call. Chapter 5 traces the efforts to preserve and memorialize these Patriots’ legacies over the centuries, when veterans’ descendants used their ancestors’ service to argue for their own inclusion within the republic. Taken as a whole, this project demonstrates the importance of this understudied segment of the founding generation, both during and after the War for Independence, as well as after their own lifetimes.

Available for download on Friday, May 08, 2026