White House Dream Team: Lemuel Haynes

Drawing of Lemuel Haynes Lemuel Haynes

Lemuel Haynes, a patriot during the American Revolutionary War, understood the meaning of freedom. Abandoned as child by his Anglo mother and African father, Lemuel was raised on a farm in Massachusetts. He worked on the farm by day and spent time learning and studying in front of the fireplace at night. Lemuel was an indentured servant, which means he was able to earn his freedom by working for a number of years. When Lemuel became a free man at age 21 in 1774, one of his first choices was to join freedom's cause and serve in a military unit from Connecticut.

More than 5,000 African soldiers — both slave and free — fought in the American Revolutionary War. Lemuel not only fought on the battlefield, but he also wrote about freedom in poems and essays. Lemuel was inspired by the Declaration of Independence, and in 1776 he wrote an essay about the need to extend freedom to Africans. His essay was called, “Liberty Further Extended.”

After the American Revolutionary War, Lemuel returned to Massachusetts, where he studied Latin and Greek and taught school. He became a preacher and spent the next 50 years pastoring churches. Five of the churches he served included Anglo members. Many of Lemuel’s sermons were published during his lifetime, and the presidents of Yale University and Amherst College often sought his advice. He also received an honorary degree from Middlebury College.

Lemuel experienced life both as a slave and as a free man. He not only fought for freedom on the battlefield, but also wrote about the need to extend freedom to slaves.

Brain Challenge:

  1. What activity did Lemuel enjoy at night when he was a child?
  2. What was an indentured servant?
  3. What state did Lemuel represent in the Continental Army?
  4. What was the name of the essay Lemuel wrote in 1776?
  5. What was Lemuel's occupation after the war?
To check your answers, share this biography and your answers to these questions with a parent, teacher or other adult.

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July 18, 1754 in West Hartford, Connecticut

September 28, 1833, probably in Granville, New York

Serving as a soldier in the American Revolutionary War and writing an essay about freedom

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