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Philosophy of the American Revolution


The Struggle for Freedom
Resource Type: E-Seminar

Relevant pages:
Meanings of Freedom: Political Freedom
Meanings of Freedom: Economic Independence
Meanings of Freedom: Slavery Denounced
The American Revolution: Black Patriots
Who's who

Relevant transcripts:
Professor Foner examines the rhetoric of liberty and slavery.
Professor Foner discusses slaves as property.

Abolitionism and Antislavery
Resource Type: E-Seminar

Relevant pages:
The Abolitionist Position: Core Concepts

Benjamin Banneker (1731–1806)
Resource Type: Primary Source
Benjamin Banneker (1731–1806) was the first important black scientist in the United States. He taught himself calculus and trigonometry and created almanacs that made him famous, one of which he sent to Thomas Jefferson, who was at the time, secretary of state. Abolition societies presented his almanacs as evidence of the intellectual capabilities of blacks.

The American Revolution and Its Legacy
Resource Type: Document-Based Question
In exploring the radical and conservative aspects of the American Revolution, these documents introduce students to the principles of equality and republicanism and the arguments for independence from Great Britain (via the Declaration of Independence and Thomas Paine's Common Sense).

A Whig Freeholder on Emancipation
Resource Type: Primary Source
Pennsylvania, like many of the Northern states, established gradual emancipation.

Otis on the Rights of the British Colonies
Resource Type: Primary Source
James Otis (1725–83) was a political activist during the period leading up to the American Revolution. In pamphlets, he articulated grievances against the British government.

Vermont's Constitution, 1777
Resource Type: Primary Source
The 1777 Vermont constitution included a clause that allowed for gradual emancipation.

An Act for Enfranchising Ned Griffin
Resource Type: Primary Source
In the wake of the Revolution, many Southern states liberalized their provisions for manumission. This came to an end between 1810 and 1820, as Southern lawmakers restricted, and in some cases barred, manumission.

Manumission of Slaves in Maryland
Resource Type: Primary Source
In the wake of the Revolution, many Southern states liberalized their provisions for manumission. This period of liberalized manumission came to an end between 1810 and 1820.

The American Revolution and Slavery
Resource Type: Document-Based Question
The revolutionary era (1775–89) gave birth to contradictory definitions of freedom and equality. For some, freedom and equality entailed the right to property, including slave property. For others, freedom and equality implied universal entitlements that applied to all individuals, including slaves. This DBQ offers students the opportunity to debate these contradictory definitions by analyzing the definition of freedom each author uses in the provided documents.

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