An African American soldier’s pay warrant, 1780

A primary source by the State of Connecticut

Pay warrant for Revolutionary War soldier Sharp Liberty, June 1, 1780. (GLC09132.01)During the American Revolution, Sharp Liberty, an African American soldier, served in the Connecticut Line of the Continental Army. Before the war, he had been enslaved in Wallingford, Connecticut. In 1777, he enlisted in the army, served in the 6th Connecticut and 4th Connecticut, and was manumitted at the end of the war for his service.

The cash-strapped government issued vouchers promising full payment by a certain date and paid interest until the full amount was collected. This voucher for eight pounds, five shillings, covers one-quarter of the full amount that Connecticut owed to Liberty in 1780. On the back, the state treasurer recorded the interest paid between 1781 and 1789. Sharp Liberty acknowledged each payment with his mark. The principal was probably paid soon after 1789, as indicated by the large, circular punch cancellation, evidence that the debt was cleared and the voucher was no longer valid for payment.

A full transcript is available here.


Treasury-Office, June 1, A.D. 1780.

THE State of CONNECTICUT doth owe unto Sharp Liberty—who hath served in the Connecticut Line of the Continental Army, the Sum of Eight pounds five shillings

Being one fourth Part of the Balance found due to him, which Sum shall be paid to him or his Order at this Office, in Gold or Silver, or Bills of Credit equivalent thereto, in Value, on or before the first Day of June, A.D. One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty five with Lawful Interest thereof from the first Day of January last until paid; which Interest shall be paid [text loss] or his Order annually, at the same Place, on the first Day of June, if demand [text loss] an Act of the General Assembly held at Hartford, the second Thursday of M[text loss]

J Lawrence Treasurer

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