Paper Money

Connecticut note has link to Revolutionary War

A Connecticut line note being offered by George H. LaBarre Galleries of Hollis, N.H., the firm says, is both a new discovery and an unusual piece of Revolutionary War history. It is one of only several dozen issued to African-American soldiers that have ever been on the market, according to the seller.

Line notes are essentially promissory notes issued in payment for service in the Continental Army from 1780 to 1782 because the state lacked the funds to fully pay its soldiers. They are called line notes because they were given to soldiers, as it says on the face of the note, “in the Connecticut Line of the Continental Army.” The text also stipulates that the note was payable in “gold, silver or bills of credit” with lawful interest payable annually over a period of six to eight years. Soldiers usually kept the notes folded in their pockets. Upon redemption, they were signed on the back and hole-canceled.

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Tuis Sharper was a private in the Sixth Connecticut Regiment and one of about 5,000 African Americans who served in the Revolutionary War after George Washington lifted the ban on black enlistment in January 1776.

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All-black units were also started in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Adding to the singularity of this particular note is that these are seldom signed by the soldier since many of them could not read or write. Most come signed as “…his X mark…” or not signed at all. That this was hand-signed by Sharper, LaBarre says, makes it “an extraordinary piece of African American Revolutionary history.”

A biography of Sharper’s combat history provided by LaBarre Galleries says Sharper was under Capt. Martin Kirtland’s company in the Connecticut Battalion, formerly of Col. William Douglass, who died. Later, the battalion was commanded by Lt. Col. David Dimon. Sharper was also in a foot regiment commanded by Col. Return Jonathan Meigs. He also served under Capt. David Humphrey’s 6th Regiment Connecticut Forces, later commanded by Lt. Col. Ebenezer Gray. Sharper’s records show that he enlisted on May 30, 1777, for a term of three years and first appeared on a muster roll on Aug. 31. He was captured as prisoner on Oct. 31, 1777, and returned from captivity on July 24, 1778. He was listed as discharged May 1, 1780. Sharper reenlisted on April 3, 1781, for another three-year term in the 2nd Regiment under Col. Heman Swift. He last appears on a payroll as of May 1, 1783, in the 3rd Connecticut Regiment of Officers Non Commissioned and Privates.

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