Five thousand blacks also participated in the

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Unformatted text preview: culture, such as a foreign language and the ability to communicate through drumming, that slave owners prohibited because they feared slaves would use them secretly to plan insurrections and escapes. 4. European Americans regarded Africa as backward and uncivilized, and unfortunately many Blacks assimilated this attitude and did not always actively attempt to retain their African heritage. Despite these inhospitable conditions, slaves did manage to retain many of their African customs, habits, and traditions. They “Africanized" the English language, the Christian church, and other aspects of their society and culture, creating a new fusion of African American culture. The American Revolution and Striving for Freedom During the American Revolution, thousands of slaves responded to an offer from England for freedom for those who fought on the side of the British. When the war was finished, these blacks had to escape along with thousands of white Loyalists. Most went to Canada, 2 Crossroads: Music of American Cultures (Barkley) Kendall Hunt Publishers, 2013 with many of them settling in Nova Scotia. Five thousand blacks also participated in the revolution, serving in the Continental army. After the war, the revolutionary ideology of the freedom of man and Quaker pietism contributed to growing anti- slavery sentiment, particularly in the North. By the first United States census in 1790, although more than 90 percent of blacks were still slaves, others were "freed" and established their own social institutions, including African American churches, schools, political organizations, militant pamphlets and newspapers. But many of the gains were reversed, particularly in the South, after whites realized the potential of the new cotton gin invented by Eli Whitney in 1793. This simple machine combed the seeds out of the cotton and greatly increased the efficiency of processing cotton and the possibility for profits. With the subsequent growth of the big cotton plantations, the demand for slaves increased. Additionally, an archconservative political order developed in the South based on the plantation system and slavery. As a result, there was intense discrimination against the manumitted (freed) slaves even in the North, and laws were enacted that restricted black political participation, land ownership, and social contact with whites. There were attacks of white mobs on black communities, such as the attack on a Cincinnati black community in 1829. Hence most freed blacks lived on the margins of society, unable to take advantage of the increasing public education facilities, housing, and legal protection afforded whites. As the 19th century progressed, more attempts were made by both white abolitionists and blacks to eliminate slavery and improve the situation for African Americans. In 1833, the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison founded the American Anti- Slavery Society. Frederick Douglass, the eloquent black orator and run- away slave, joined with others to establish an independent black journal, the North Star. Ex- slave Harriet Tubman was one of many courageous blacks and whites who fought slavery by helping slaves escape through the Underground Railroad, a network of backroads and hideouts leading from the South to the North in which volunteers “conducted” the slaves to freedom. But white resistance to abolition also increased, and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 made many blacks pessimistic about the end of slavery. The Civil War, Reconstruction, and Late 19th Century When the Civil War broke out in 1861, African Americans were anxious to help the North fight because they hoped that one of the results of the war would be that they would acquire freedom. The black leader Frederick Douglass wrote a stirring editorial and urg...
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