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James Roberts’ Narrative shares the details of his betrayal by two different masters during two different wars. Roberts was born enslaved in 1753 on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. His narrative recounts his involvement in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. During the Revolutionary War, Roberts fought alongside his master, Francis De Shields, under the command of General George Washington. Following the war, Roberts hoped that he and his family would be freed upon their master’s depth but was instead separated from his family and sold to Louisiana planter Calvin Smith for fifteen hundred dollars. He endured severe treatment under Smith, including beatings and lashings for praying.

Little did he know that he would again be betrayed. General Andrew Jackson approached Robert’s master, seeking to enlist the aid of enslaved people during the War of 1812, promising them freedom in exchange for their enlistment. Roberts fought bravely in the Battle of New Orleans, losing a portion of his finger and sustaining a head wound. However, General Jackson did not keep his promise of freedom, ordering Roberts and other African American soldiers back to their masters. Despite pleas for liberty, Roberts faced further oppression and witnessed the deaths of comrades who demanded their rights.

Another installment of melanated melanated has been delivered. Ponder, reflect, and pass it on.