Enjoy the Same Liberty: Black Americans and the Revolutionary Era (The African American History Series)

Enjoy the Same Liberty: Black Americans and the Revolutionary Era (The African American History Series)

Edward Countryman

Language: English

Pages: 208

ISBN: 1442232811

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In this cohesive narrative, Edward Countryman explores the American Revolution in the context of the African American experience, asking a question that blacks have raised since the Revolution: What does the revolutionary promise of freedom and democracy mean for African Americans? Countryman, a Bancroft Prize-winning historian, draws on extensive research and primary sources to help him answer this question. He emphasizes the agency of blacks and explores the immense task facing slaves who wanted freedom, as well as looking at the revolutionary nature of abolitionist sentiment. Countryman focuses on how slaves remembered the Revolution and used its rhetoric to help further their cause of freedom.

Many contend that it is the American Revolution that defines us as Americans. Edward Countryman gives the reader the chance to explore this notion as it is reflected in the African American experience.

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denunciation during four intense days of editing, while Jefferson writhed in his seat. All the rest of his life he blamed the delegates from South Carolina and Georgia for the cut. But given what Jefferson actually wrote, Congress probably was right. The problem had been raised and would not go away, but what Jefferson wrote in that passage revealed immediately how difficult resolving it was going to prove. Jefferson’s attempt to place the slavery question in the Declaration came at the end of

could raise the money to buy freedom for himself and his family after his master converted to Methodism and accepted the Methodists’ anti-slavery testimony. Part of the work Allen did was as a blacksmith. He also joined the Methodists and in 1786 he launched a successful early-morning black service at predominantly white St. George’s Methodist Church. The church forced Allen and his friend Absalom Jones out in 1787 when they refused during a service to move from white pews to a gallery reserved

about the Revolution’s failure to abolish slavery within the new United States. It is about the beginning of slavery’s end, not just in the United States but in the whole Atlantic world, and about how black Americans had a major part in bringing that about. Taking that perspective helps to resolve a problem that has haunted understanding of the revolutionary era ever since London literary figure Samuel Johnson asked, in 1775, “how is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the

able to do. In August 1831 another rebellion exploded, this time in Southampton County, Virginia. Southampton lies in the Virginia Southside, the area between the James River and the North Carolina border. It is just west of the Great Dismal Swamp, where some escaped slaves did find refuge. Almost half of the county’s sixteen thousand people in 1830 were slaves. People who knew the rebellion’s leader, who went by Nat and was not known, yet, as Nat Turner, described him as highly intelligent. He

through the day, will be induced by the slightest amusements to sit up till midnight, or later, though knowing he must be out with the first dawn of the morning. They are at least as brave, and more adventuresome. But this may perhaps proceed from a want of forethought, which prevents their seeing a danger till it be present. When present, they do not go through it with more coolness or steadiness than the whites. They are more ardent after their female: but love seems with them to be more an

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