V. Slavery and the Revolution A. The Language of Slavery and Freedom 1. During the debates over British rule, "slavery" was primarily a political category. 2. The irony that America cried for liberty while enslaving Africans was recognized by some (e.g., the British statesman Edmund Burke and the British writer Dr. Samuel Johnson). B. Obstacles to Abolition 1. Some patriots argued that slavery for blacks made freedom possible for whites. C. The Cause of General Liberty 1. By defining freedom as a universal entitlement rather than as a set of rights specific to a particular place or people, the Revolution inevitably raised questions about the status of slavery in the new nation. 2. Samuel Sewall's The Selling of Joseph (1700) was the first antislavery tract in America. 3. In 1773, Benjamin Rush warned that slavery was a "national crime" that would bring "national punishment."
Hoang 9 D. Petitions for Freedom 1. Slaves in the North and in the South appropriated the language of liberty for their own purposes. 2. Slaves presented "freedom petitions" in New England in the early 1770s. 3. Many blacks were surprised that white America did not realize their rhetoric of revolution demanded emancipation. 4. The poems of Phillis Wheatley, a slave in Boston, often spoke of freedom. E. British Emancipators 1. Nearly 100,000 slaves deserted their owners and fled to British lines. 2. At the end of the war, over 15,000 blacks accompanied the British out of the country. a) Many ended up in Nova Scotia, England, and Sierra Leone, a West African settlement established by Britain for former U.S. slaves. b) Some were re-enslaved in the West Indies. F. Voluntary Emancipations 1. For a brief moment, the revolutionary upheaval appeared to threaten the continued existence of slavery as some slaveholders, primarily in the Upper South, provided for the emancipation of their slaves. G. Abolition in the North 1. Between 1777 and 1804, every state north of Maryland took steps toward emancipation. 2. Abolition in the North was a slow process and typically applied only to future children of current slave women. H. Free Black Communities 1. After the war, free black communities with their own churches, schools, and leaders came into existence. 2. Despite the rhetoric of freedom, the war did not end slavery for blacks.
Hoang 10 VI. Daughters of Liberty A. Revolutionary Women 1. Many women participated in the war in various capacities. a) Deborah Sampson, for example, dressed as a man and enlisted in the Continental army. 2. Within American households, women participated in the political discussions unleashed by independence. 3. "Coverture" (which meant a husband held legal authority over his wife) remained intact in the new nation. 4. In both law and social reality, women lacked the opportunity for autonomy (based on ownership of property or control of one's own person) and hence lacked the essential qualification of political participation.
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