I have researched and put together a series on African American heroes, patriots and founding fathers of America. Most of them were slaves so many of them have little recorded about their lives. As I did this research I was amazed at the impact these people had on our country and I had never heard of many of them. I hope you will step back into time with me and learn about these forgotten Americans. I encourage you to research them more if one of their stories touches you.
Briton Hammon lived a dangerous life much like those found in the pages of an adventure book. He was a slave in the 18th century. He left his master only to encounter more hardships than as a slave.
When he left his mater his intentions were to go to Plymouth and from there Jamaica. In June of 1748, the ship Hammon was sailing on was cast away, not far from the shore of Cape Florida. The crew split up and took smaller boats in to shore. At the point when half of the crew was ashore, they were attacked by a group of 60 Indians, who bound and captured them. The Indians lite the boat on fire killing the remaining crew on board. The Indians then returned and killed those who were bound. During which Hammon seeing his eminent death, attempted his escape in swimming away. He was not successful and the Indians continued to hold him captive. They did take good care of him and fed him well. Later on Hammon escaped. He knew a crew member on a Spanish ship, which arrived there from St. Augustine. The captain of which made a deal with the Indians. He paid 10 dollars to keep Hammon, as well as making sure they would not hereafter kill any other persons but capture as many as they could and bring them to the Captain for which they would be sold for 10 dollars.
He then went to live with the Governor in a castle. He attempted many times to escape. He was finally liberated after his third attempt to escape. He was ordered to work for a Bishop. After doing this for several months he was granted his freedom.
He boarded a ship to Jamaica and then wanted to go on to London. On his way to London the ship he was on had a conflict with another ship. He was wounded and seventy others were killed. His wounds were so serious he was unable to work. After thirteen years he was reunited with his old master. Both were happy to be back together.
In 1760, he published his account of his adventures. The book was, “A Narrative of the uncommon sufferings, and Surprising Deliverance of Briton Hammon, A Negro Man.” This piece of literature is often referred to as the first autobiography or slave narrative published by an African American. It can be viewed at the Library of Congress.
Heroes of the Revolution. Adler, David. Holiday House Publishers. New York City, NY. 2003