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He had supported enlisting and freeing slaves for the war effort and suggested to his father that he begin with the 40 he stood to inherit. Henry Laurens was first named a delegate to the Continental Congress on January 10 1777. The town and village of Laurens in New York are named for him.
John Laurens was killed in a skirmish in South Carolina in 1782. His son John Laurens a colonel in the Continental Army and officer on Washington's staff believed that Americans could not fight for their own freedom while holding slaves. In 1779 he persuaded the Continental Congress to authorize the recruitment of a brigade (3000 men) of slaves who would be given their freedom after the war.