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.














the whole institution, colonial western hemisphere slavery could not have developed, let alone have thrived. Great Britain had more than a little hand in how its version of western hemisphere slavery took shape. Taking advantage of what its colonists already were doing, the Crown established the Royal African Company in 1672 and gave itself part-ownership. Until 1698 the company claimed a monopoly on British trade to Africa, including the growing trade in slaves. British diplomats in Madrid

negotiated the asiento with the Spanish government, allowing British slave vessels and their cargoes into Spanish-American ports. In 1735 Parliament specified that British creditors could seize the slaves of colonial debtors, if the debtors fell into default. Early in the eighteenth century the Royal Navy put down piracy in the Caribbean, making it safe for British vessels, including slavers. For much of that century Portugal was a British client state, and British vessels dominated the enormous

distinctively American art. Political parties emerged, pitting citizens against one another for office and power, but also bringing order and direction to America’s chaotic public life. The whole country seemed to be a runaway success, and, despite all the odds against them, some black people seemed to be part of that success, as the new republican America took shape. But, as if in imitation of the monarchical British Empire that it replaced, the new republican American empire bound together a

in their handling of the problem of slavery during the era. Longer accounts, again with very different perspectives, include John E. Ferling, A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003); Robert M. Middlekauff, The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763–1789 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); and Gary B. Nash, The Unknown American Revolution: The Unruly Birth of Democracy and the Struggle to Create America (New York:

Vesey and on one scholar’s proposition that the conspiracy to rebel was a figment of white Carolinian imaginations. Studies of the Southampton County (Nat Turner) Rebellion in Virginia of 1831 start with Herbert Aptheker, Nat Turner’s Slave Rebellion (New York: Humanities, 1966) and Stephen B. Oates, The Fires of Jubilee: Nat Turner’s Fierce Rebellion (New York: Harper & Row, 1975). Novelist William Styron’s fictional The Confessions of Nat Turner (New York: Random House, 1967) led quickly to

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