tv Legends Lies FOX News December 11, 2016 8:00pm-9:01pm PST
and we'll see you next "fox news sunday." news is the first draft of history. it is immediate and takes place in realtime. legends take longer to develop and are sometimes based on myth. this fox news series looks at the truth behind the legend. we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
>> this doesn't concern you. >> whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it. >> we all approve the declaration as revised by this committee? >> aye. >> we do solemnly declare that these united colonies are and ought to be free and independent. ♪
revolution and forge a new system of government. in time these brave men and women will come to be known as the american patriots. the american revolution, a war for independence and liberty from oppression. while some heroes become american legends, others who fight for the country's freedom will continue to struggle for their own. but behind every struggle stands a man, and behind every legend lies the truth. >> you ready? >> the story of the american revolution is known by nearly every american child who's taken a history class. but there is another story that's been virtually ignored for more than two centuries.
at least 5,000 americans of african descent fight in the revolution. these forgotten heroes rise up against oppression and risk their lives in the name of freedom for their country and for themselves. >> bless you for allowing me to join your camp, ma'am. >> all we have is food and warmth, but it's yours. >> in the tradition, the oral tradition is the big one that we pass knowledge from person to person. our stories are continued as carried over generations and generations in spoken word, poetry, music. that's how they're still remembered today. >> you been to war? >> indeed. >> my pa's in the war. >> must be a proud man, your pa. out there fighting for the trut. >> black people agreed that everything would change in the
american revolution. there was going to be more freedom than ever. and remember, black folks are fighting with a guarantee of their personal freedom, that they can leave the household of the master, that they can leave the plantation. >> so many names and faces. just like you and me. out there fighting for our freedom. especially a patriot like no other. >> careful now, boy. >> jack sisson, a slave as the revolution begins, will become a hero by war's end, even helping to win american independence at the pivotal battle at yorktown. but little is known of jack's early life except that he's owned by a successful farmer, thomas sisson of tipperton, rhode island.
>> he says you've got big dreams. you think you're good enough to fight? >> the world that jack sisson lived in was a world where he's enslaved but his work activity would have looked like servitude. but he's enslaved. >> law says i may take your place. do you think you'd be better off a free man, jack? would you like to leave my house? >> your house, sir. >> i'd rather hang than have one of my negroes loose with a gun in his hands. in the name of liberty.
>> come back here! ♪ >> there are a lot of those who run away and join the continental army of the militia. this is what george roughen refers to as leg bell. leg bell is where you run away to the army. it's not an agreement from your owner. there are many who run away and they join. some would remain free, many wouldn't. >> why are you itching for a fight? you read the same words that i read. all men are created equal. isn't that worth fighting for? >> even as jack sisson takes his independence into his own hands, he is still far from free. he needs something to run to.
while some africans are being allowed to join patriot milit militias, not everyone agrees with arming the slaves. >> that declaration is just words. they're not meant for us. >> how can you say that? >> an african might assume, yes, this is my revolution. not as slaves but as free men. one of the big questions comes up, what does independence have to do with freedom? they're not necessarily associated. >> what do you see there? >> the boston massacre. >> that's the reason we're fighting. >> no. look again. he's red coats, they're killing a bunch of white men. but that's not the whole story. first man killed in the massacre was a black man.
cri crispis attocks. he sees it as his fight early on. americans might have been more enthusiastic about independence because they saw if you separate with those who believe that liberty is a natural right, then naturally they're going to be your allies and abolish slavery. ♪ >> tell me again why that piece of paper is worth fighting for. >> i heard major barton is looking for men. >> are you going to volunteer?
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job and a career. >> shall we live, as those british subjects do in ireland? >> shall we live as those british subjects do in ireland, slaves to the crown? >> while the american colonies fight for their liberty from the british empire, for african-americans, the revolution is a chance for something even more personal. >> so tell me again why that piece of paper is worth fighting for. >> the american revolution was probably the first serious propaganda war. you know, liberty, freedom and justice for all. >> there's talk of economic enrichment. there are all these thins going on. the black people hear it. freedom.
>> major barton, i heard you were looking for volunteers. >> no, son. he volunteered. major barton gave him a spot on a secret mission. >> it comes to it, withy don't want the british raising alarms. >> nearly a year after the declaration of independence, george washington has lost one of his most gifted military strategists, general charles lee, and he needs to find a way to get him back. >> you are the continental army. >> charles lee was second in command only to george washington, but lee was captured by the british. at that point the americans needed a major general of the same rank in order to free lee
from captivity. >> there was always a gentleman agreement between warring combatants, that you could exchange certain prisoners. the general saw the british occupation of newport as everything that is evil and wrong with the british occupation. so the goal was to capture him and use him as an exchange so general lee could be brought back into the continental army. >> the man washington want is major william barton. jack sisson's new commander. >> major barton was a part of the rhode island command structure and a rhode island native. barton was a leader in his community. he was a well known, established family. men were at ease and comfortable with following him into combat and following his orders. >> barton's plan, cross the
narrangansett bay and in the farm house he's occupied five miles north of town, far enough from the thousands of enemy troops in newport that the raid has a chance of success. t daring mission to capture british general richard prescott is made even more dangerous because it requires a nighttime crossing of the heavily patrolled narrangansett bay with jack sisson at the helm. sisson is likely chosen because he's a highly skilled boatman. >> they muffled the oars so they could slide right by the british men of war who were there in the bay. they came up on the shore and maneuvered around patrols. >> come on, men, fall in and close up. >> the raids were more of a commando mission, at night under the cover of darkness. there could have been signs posted identifying other
sentries and everything would have been loss. >> slow and steady, mr. sisson. ♪ >> what's going on? naughty or nice? calm or bright? but at bedtime... ...why settle for this? enter sleep number, designed to let couples sleep together in individualized comfort. sleepiq technology tells you how you slept and what adjustments you can make. she likes the bed soft. he's more hardcore. so your sleep goes from good to great to wow! give the gift of amazing sleep. only at a sleep number store, save $1, 000 on selected mattresses with flexfit3 adjustable base. hurry, ends sunday. know better sleep with sleep number.
>> in the american revolution, some patriots have a more personal stake in the fight for freedom. in the american revolution, some patriots have a more personal stake in the fight for freedom. >> jack sisson is a hero, patriot. he was a slave for sure, but he was always out there fighting for the truth. we're all the same. all created equal. >> on a secret mission to capture british general richard prescott, he puts his battle for freedom into action. >> who are you? what's going on here? ♪ >> legend has it that jack
sisssiss sisson bashes in general prescott's door using his head as a battering room. whether this story is true or not, sisson is an integral part of the operation. the captured prescott traded for general lee all without firing a single shot. >> jack sisson's crucial role in the prescott raid success earns the admiration of george washington who still isn't certain about african-american soldiers. >> george washington was born into this virginia culture and slavery is very, very much a part of virginia culture. so the idea of trusting african individuals with weapons and to fight for those causes, he felt
it was inappropriate. >> congratulations, major barton. a hard job well done. >> but the honor belongs to my men. >> indeed. >> this is among the finest partisan exploits that have taken place in the course of the war on either side. it discovers the highest honor to those who undertook and effected it. >> it would take some time for george washington to be introduced to new opportunities and new ideas about who africans were and what they would or would not do. >> let's begin to change george washington's ideas about black soldiers? one, those soldiers that fought in that early time. >> jack sisson was brave just like the many brave black heroes
that fought in lexington and bunker hill. like chris estherwood, he was a slave, but he fought in the very first battle of this war. >> prince esther brook fought. and everyone was looking to come forward and defend their commonwealth, their town, their farm and their own families. >> he bought at bunker hill. he was a slave until his master gave him his freedom. >> he ends up registering with the massachusetts minutemen and is credited with shooting major john fitzgerald. and a man who joined the
militia, too. and at bunker hill he fought so bravely that 14 white officers gave official statements to the massachusetts governor. >> another extremely brave man, he absolutely stands as one of the great african heroes of the revolution. >> jack sisson's story may not be as well known but he's no less heroic. having proven himself in the
prescott raid, he now joins 400 integrated soldiers commanded by christopher green at a crucial american post. the british have occupied philadelphia, the birthplace of independence. to prevent british supply ships from reaching the city, george washington builds two forts, fort mifflin and fort mercer. colonel green must prepare his money for the inevitable attack that could come at any time. >> christopher green had firsthand interaction with african heritage people, growing up, recognizing the close proximity of african-americans. >> the post i am in charge i am determined to defend with the
small number i have to the last extremity. >> some problem, sisson? >> it's just that the men are saying if philadelphia falls. >> that is so. then it is our god given duty to raise her up. we will. >> these soldiers and african soldiers in general had something to live up to. they had something to prove. they would fight. they were brave and courageous. and they would die for our cause and our independence. >> 1200 mercenaries are bearing down on ft. mercer. outnumbered three to one, it's up to jack sisson and the men of the rhode island regiment to stop them.
[ birds chirping ] >> all right, boys. get this cannon mounted. >> philadelphia has fallen. jack sisson and just 400 men of all right, boys. >> philadelphia has fallen. jack sisson and just 400 men of the rhode island regiment must hold the post. >> right. get a move on. >> against 1200 professional killers, german mercenaries called hessians led by a colonel. >> many african-american soldiers believed their decision to fight alongside free patriots is a just one that will eventually lead to their own freedom. but what many forget is that the enslaved population, particularly in the south, is given another option to achieve their freedom, taking up arms and fighting for the british. >> early in the war, the british
royal governor of virginia, lord dunnly, offers emancipation for any slave that joins the troops. despite the attempt to turn slaves against their masters, some africans believe in the patriot cause and fight for more than their personal freedom. at ft. mercer, the first rhode island regiment prepares for the overwhelming hessian force, a battle that could be their last. ♪
>> there must have been maybe hundreds of africans who served. the story held up from the very beginning, 1775. you can be free. the germans are fighting for the king. >> i didn't know there were colored germans. you're not german. you're a slave. >> i ain't no slave. i'm a soldier. when this war's over, i'm going to be a free man. and you will be back in chains. they may give you a gun, but
you're still just a white man's boy. >> and you're just a slave of the slave. the british are using these germans just as they are using you. when general washington wins this war, there ain't going to be nowhere for you to go. >> general washington, ask your general about slaves. and then you tell me who is free and who is not. >> washington, like many other leading patriots, is a slave owner. as the revolutionary war begins, more than 130 slaves serve at washington's plantation, mt. vernon, including his most trusted companion, billy. >> george washington bought a guy named william lee and his brother. the brother remained most of the time at the plantation while william lee himself spent most of his time with george, especially during the war.
>> it is a noble cause we are engaged in. it is the cause of virtue and mankind. >> slavery is brutal, but we can't take out the fact that there are these human relation this intense loyalty that grows up between the served and the servant. but insubordinate relationship. >> george washington is torn between the liberty he fights for and the slave owner establishment he was born into. but he will soon be forced to choose because, without more african-american soldiers, his war for independence could be lost. >> the only option now is to declare our independence. >> america is at war, dr. franklin. >> we declare our independence. >> america is at war. >> welcome home. for more revealing stories on these and other patriots
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