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General Jackson

Reneges on His Promise to his Creole Soldiers






General Jackson Reneges on His Promise


A negative view of Andrew Jackson's regard for Creole and black troops emerges from The Narrative of James Roberts, written by a man wo served in jacksons army at New Orleans. Roberts was a slave who had been returned to slavery after serving in the Revolutionary War.

General jackson, in order to prepare to meet Packenham, the British General, in the contest at New Orleans, came into our section of the enlist five hundred negros. Jackson came into the field and then addressed us thus:

"Had you not as soon go into the battle and fight, as to stay here in the cotton field, dying and never die? If you will go, and the battle is fought and the victory gained on Israel's side, you shall be free."

But after the battle was won and "sixty or seventy or more of the colored men were killed...[who] were, without doubt, as Jackson himself acknowledged, the instrumental cause of victory," Jackson told the men to "go home to your masters."

Roberts challenged Jackson about his promise to free them, and Jackson answered: "If I were to hire you my horse, could you sell it without my leave? You are another man's property, and I have not money sufficient to buy all of you, and set you free."

Infuriated at the betrayal, Roberts cocked his gun but discovered Jackson had had the guns of the African Americans unloaded. "had my gun been loaded," Roberts recalled, "doubtless Jackson would have been a dead man in a moment....Jackson asked me if contended for freedom. I sais I did. He said, 'I think you are very presumptuous.' I told him, the time had come for us to claim our rights.

He said, 'You are a day too late.' Some of the whites standing around said, 'He ought to be shot.' Now, just think of that! Two days before, I had, with my fellow soldiers, saved their city from fire and, 'he ought to be shot!' simply for contending for my freedom, which, both my master and Jackson had solemnly before high heaven promised, before I left home."


"1001 Things Everyone Should Know About African American History"
by Jeffrey C. Stewart
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