TODAY IN BLACK HISTORY
On this day
Peter Salem: A free slave, Peter Salem, a private in Captain Simon Edgel's company at the battle of Bunker Hill, was the first military hero of the War of Independence against British rule. On June 17, 1775, at a crucial moment in the battle, when British major John Pitcairn, had rallied the disorganized British troops and prepared a counterattack, Salem, shot the major through the head just after he yelled "The day is Ours." Peter Salem, a former slave who had gained his freedom upon enlisted in the militia, had battled Pitcairn, and his forces earlier at Lexington and was glad to have dispatched the hated major as he did. Now leaderless, the British lost their nerve and the battle. Afterward, Salem's fellow soldiers took up a collection for him. He was also honored by a visit to meet George Washington and by a monument placed over his grave in Framingham, Massachusetts in 1882.