Birth: 1750 in Framingham, MA

Death: 1816 in Framingham, MA

Historical Role/Pertinence: Black soldier at Battle Road and the Battle of Bunker Hill

Peter Salem was born enslaved in 1750 in Framingham, MA. At age 25, Salem was sold to Major Buckminster of the Framingham’s Minute Men, who emancipated Salem and gave him a place in his military company. Peter Salem and the other Black minutemen fought in the Battle of Lexington and Concord. Salem later served as part of Colonel John Nixon’s 5th Massachusetts Regiment. This was when he famously joined in the Battle of Bunker Hill and killed British Major John Pitcairn. Peter Salem was also a member of the 6th Massachusetts Regiment, however, he was only admitted on the basis that Buckminster had emancipated him as General George Washington had declared that enslaved persons could not serve in military companies. 

After the Revolutionary War, Peter Salem moved to Salem, MA. He married Katy Benson and built his own home near Leicester, MA. After his military service had ended, Salem did not receive much praise or profit because of his veteran status. He worked as a cane and chair weaver before eventually passing away in 1816 at a Framingham poorhouse. However, after his death, he was finally given the recognition he deserved. Salem was celebrated with a monument in honor of his service from the townspeople of Framingham. Additionally, the Daughters of the American Revolution declared his house in Leicester as a historical monument.

Associated Exhibits

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Works Cited

“Peter Salem.” American Battlefield Trust. Accessed November 2023. https://www.battlefields.org/learn/biographies/peter-salem.

“Peter Salem (Salem Middlesex).” National Park Service. Accessed November 2023. https://www.nps.gov/people/peter-salem.htm.