Abandoned as child by his Anglo mother and African father, Haynes 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. He was an indentured servant, which means he was able to earn his freedom by working for a number of years. When Haynes 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.
Life as a Soldier
More than 5,000 African soldiers — both slave and free — fought in the American Revolutionary War. Haynes not only fought on the battlefield, but he also wrote about freedom in poems and essays. He was inspired by the Declaration of Independence, and in 1776 wrote an essay about the need to extend freedom to Africans. His essay was called, “Liberty Further Extended.”
After the American Revolutionary War, Haynes 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 his 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 Haynes died on September 28, 1833, at the age of eighty.
Haynes 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.