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date: 28 March 2020

Salem, Peter locked

(b. ca. 1750; d. 16 August 1816), a soldier in the American Revolution
  • Caryn E. Neumann


who was born a slave in Framingham, Massachusetts. Salem's master, Jeremiah Belknap, named the newborn slave after his Massachusetts hometown. Salem was eventually sold to Major Lawson Buckminster, who freed the young man to allow him to serve in the Framingham militia. In 1774 the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts set up the Committee of Safety under John Hancock to call out the entire militia of the colony should events lead to its necessity. Special groups were formed within militia units to be ready at a moment's notice, and Salem became one of the few black minutemen.

As a militiaman Salem attacked the British at Concord after a group of Royal Marines under Major John Pitcairn fired the shots that started the war, assaulting minutemen at Lexington in April 1775 Salem joined the Fifth Massachusetts Regiment led by Colonel John Nixon The regiment rushed to Boston as reinforcements ...

A version of this article originally appeared in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619–1895.

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