low, with several New England states finally disestablishing the Congregational Church early in the 19th century.A Move to End SlaveryThe social institution of slavery flew in the face of the American ideal of equality. Thomas Jefferson, a slaveholder himself and the likely father of several children by his slave Sally Hemmings, illustrated the contradic-tory nature of many people’s attitudes toward this issue. On the one hand, Jefferson argued that God had made all people from the same original couple; therefore, everyone was equal through their common human heritage. Slavery—like kingship—was a human-made institution that could be undone. On the other hand, Jefferson argued that blacks were both intellectually and morally inferior to whites. In his 1782 work Notes on the State of Virginia, Jefferson posited that blacks would never be able to live peacefully side by side with whites after suffering so much under slavery.Early Calls for AbolitionAlthough Jefferson spoke often of his plans to free all of his slaves, he never did so, but many other slaveholders, both during and immediately after the American Revolution, did free their slaves. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution/Art Resource, NYPoet Phillis Wheatley was a slave for a family in Boston and the first African American woman to publish her writing.
CHAPTER 5Section 5.6 The Radicalism of the American RevolutionMany more called for the abolition, or immediate end, of slavery. They challenged their young nation to outlaw this ancient and outmoded labor system. Some of the first cries to end slavery came from members of the Quaker religion. By the 1780s, Quakers had started antislavery societies throughout the nation. One of the first was in Richmond, Virginia. Other major figures in the revolution such as Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton started antislavery societies in Philadelphia and New York City.Free blacks were another leading force calling for the abolition of slavery. In 1779, Afri-can Americans in Connecticut asked the state legislature “whether it is consistent with the present Claims, of the United States, to hold so many Thousands, of the Race of Adam, our Common Father, in perpetual Slavery.” At the same time, 19 people who identified themselves as “natives of Africa” reminded the New Hampshire assembly that “private or public tyranny and slavery are alike detestable to minds conscious of the equal dignity of human nature.” Accomplished African Americans such as astronomer Benjamin Banneker and poet Phillis Wheatley showed whites what blacks could accomplish if they were given the chance.The First Legislative Measure to End SlaveryPeople in revolutionary America did more than talk about slavery. They also passed laws to end it. Vermont, which would become the 14th state in 1791, abolished slavery as soon as it organized itself in 1777. In 1780, the state of Pennsylvania became the first govern-ment in the Western Hemisphere to outlaw slavery, albeit gradually. By passing the Grad-
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Bunker Hill, American Revolution, United States Declaration of Independence, Thirteen Colonies