Fighting for Liberty

one house, five families, 200 years of history

For people like the Dodges, the language they spoke, their culture, even the imported goods in their homes tied them to Great Britain. But in the 1770s, rising resentment against British policies led many colonists to think about rights—to life, liberty, and property—in new ways. In 1775 Abraham Dodge decided to risk his life and fortune in a war for independence; at age 34, he fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill and served as an officer in the newly formed Continental Army.

The American Revolution brought new opportunities for enslaved people as well as white colonists. Chance would have known enslaved and free black men who fought for a variety of reasons: forced by their owners to serve as substitute soldiers, hoping for the promise of freedom, or spurred by the same ideals as white patriots.

Battle of Bunker Hill, by Alonzo Chappel, 1859

Battle of Bunker Hill, by Alonzo Chappel, 1859

On June 17, 1775, Abraham Dodge and other Ipswich men fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill, twenty-five miles south of their town. Approximately 2,000 men of color were among the nearly 68,000 Massachusetts soldiers who fought for independence during the war.
Courtesy Chicago History Museum