E Pluribus Unum – “out of many, one” – was first featured on the original 1776 design of the Great Seal of the United States and was formally adopted by the U.S. Congress as our nation’s official motto in 1782. The Latin phrase reminds us that from the original Thirteen Colonies emerged a single nation.

In 2020, DAR launched an important five-year effort called the “E Pluribus Unum Educational Initiative” to increase awareness of often underrepresented Revolutionary War Patriots, including those who were African American, Native American and female. Given DAR’s purpose to perpetuate the legacy of all the men and women who achieved independence, DAR has a decided role to play in researching and promoting how diversified participants assisted in the creation of our nation. DAR is committed to better telling the stories of these Patriots, who have all too often been left out of the pages of history.

The three primary goals of the E Pluribus Unum Educational Initiative are as follows:

  • Expand research on the experiences of people of color, including Patriots of African, Indigenous and non-European or mixed-heritage descent.
  • Discover additional names and stories of Patriots of color who supported the American Revolution and contributed to the cause of Independence.
  • Provide more historical, educational and genealogical resources about people of color and women during the Colonial period on our DAR website.

This initiative will have a multi-phased approach that will expand genealogical research/access, support scholarship on the history of people of color during the American Revolution and present information in an easily accessible way to DAR members and the public alike.

Phase One

Phase One of the initiative will expand, enhance and make more accessible the research DAR started decades ago with the Forgotten Patriots Project. The DAR publication, Forgotten Patriots – African American and American Indian Patriots of the Revolutionary War: A Guide to Service, Sources, and Studies, already lists more than 6,600 names of Black, Indigenous and mixed-heritage people who contributed to American Independence; it was originally published in 2001 and then greatly expanded when republished in 2008 (and currently available as a free PDF download on the DAR website). The book spawned a symposium on the topic by the DAR Library and an exhibit within the DAR Museum.

As one of the first components of the initiative, DAR has launched a new database within DAR’s Genealogy Research System (GRS) called Patriots of Color, devoted specifically to the service of patriots of a wide variety of backgrounds (African American, African, Native American, mixed ancestry) in the Revolutionary War. The database builds upon research that began in the Forgotten Patriots book. We are hoping that this database of names along with the listing of sources may prove useful to researchers searching for ancestors of color, and in establishing more of these extraordinary individuals as DAR recognized Patriots. You can find the new Patriots of Color database here.

DAR is excited for the many ways this educational initiative will bring more awareness to, and appreciation of, Revolutionary War Patriots of ALL backgrounds as we approach the 250th anniversary of the founding of our country. We hope to ignite a desire in more people to research their own lineage and connect with their past, as we encourage them to also consider membership in the DAR.