Salem Poor, an original patriot
Salem Poor (stamp)
The birth of Salem Poor around 1750 is celebrated on this date. He was a Black patriot during the Revolutionary War.
Poor was a free Negro in Andover, MA. He left his wife when he went off to war to fight for the American Revolution. He enlisted under Captain Benjamin Ames in Colonel Fryes' regiment. He fought at Bunker Hill and is credited with shooting down British Lieutenant Colonel James Abercrombie.
Poor's valor and gallantry at the Battle of Bunker Hill caused 14 officers, including Colonel William Prescott, to cite him with heroism and petition the General Court of Massachusetts with the following statement:
“The Reward due to so great and Distinguished a Character. The Subscribers beg leave to Report to your Honorable. House (Which We do in justice to the Character of so Brave a man) that under Our Own observation, we declare that A Negro Man Called Salem Poor of Col. Fryes Regiment, Capt. Ames. Company in the late Battle of Charleston, behaved like an Experienced Officer, as Well as an Excellent Soldier, to Set forth Particulars of his Conduct would be Tedious, We Would Only beg leave to say in the Person of this Negro Centers a Brave & gallant Soldier.”
Records like this from Revolutionary rolls in the Massachusetts Archives at the Statehouse in Boston, reflect the remarkable character of such men as Salem Poor who enlisted and re-enlisted according to the orders and remands of General Washington and Lord Dunmore. Accounts show that Poor served at Valley Forge and White Plains. What became of him is unknown. Most Negroes lives were sparsely recorded, and their later lives were completely ignored.
National Historical Park. National Park Service.
U. S. Department of the Interior
The Encyclopedia Britannica, Fifteenth Edition.
Copyright 1996 Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.
Today in American History