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November 25, 2008
Prof. Stephen Azzi
November 25th, 2008
Land of the Free
The American Revolution was inspired and backed by men such as Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock and George Washington, with ideas of a new, free nation, one in which "all men were created equal" as their Declaration of Independence boastfully stated. However, as the war changed from a Massachusetts endeavor to a broader conflict throughout the colonies, the politics of race changed dramatically. The Revolutionary era witnessed the first major challenge to American slavery. Almost overnight, it seemed, an institution that had long been taken for granted came under intense scrutiny and debate, and thousands of black slaves took advantage of wartime turmoil to flee their bondage.
Blacks had been welcomed in the New England militia, but Congress initially decided against having them in the Continental army.
Congress needed support from the South if all the colonies were to win their independence from England. Since southern plantation owners wanted to keep their slaves, they were afraid to give guns to blacks. The thought of slaves bearing arms with the ability to rise up against their masters was a far more serious threat to most Americans than the losing battle to the red coats.
Still, the words of the Declaration of Independence were taken literally by blacks and some whites. In, 1780, Pennsylvania became the first colony to pass a law phasing out slavery.Ã¯Â¿Â½ Children born to slaves after that date were granted their freedom when they reached twenty eight. Other Northern states followed. The Superior Court of Massachusetts held in 1783 that slavery violated the state constitution, and New Hampshire also ended slavery by a court ruling.Ã¯Â¿Â½ Vermont outlawed slavery and Connecticut and...