Friday, May 2, 1997

Oliver Cromwell

Black Revolutionary Soldier

Oliver Cromwell was born near Burlington in 1752. Raised a farmer, he served in several companies of the Second New Jersey Regiment between 1777 and 1783. After seeing action at the battles of Trenton and Princeton in 1776 and 1777, Brandywine in 1777, Monmouth in 1778 and Yorktown in 1781, he left the military at war's end. George Washington personally signed Cromwell's discharge papers, and also designed a medal which was awarded to Cromwell.

Some years after the war, Cromwell applied for a veteran's pension. He was well-liked in Burlington, and although he was unable to read or write, local lawyers, judges and politicians came to his aid, and he was granted a pension of $96 a year. He purchased a 100-acre farm outside Burlington, and fathered 14 children, then spent his later years at his home at 114 East Union Street in Burlington. He lived to be 100 years old, outliving 8 of his children, and is buried in the cemetary of the Broad Street Methodist Church. His descendants live in the city to this day.

In 1983, the Oliver Cromwell Black History Society was organized to research and preserve Black Heritage, in Burlington and elsewhere. The Society works to encourage young men to represent Cromwell and other African-American soldiers in Revolutionary War recreations at the Old Barracks Museum in Trenton, New Jersey.

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