The American Revolution was fought for the ideals of freedom and liberty. However, thousands of African Americans were enslaved. How did the colonists and enslaved people react to this incongruity, or inconsistency?
Use your knowledge of the era and the documents to answer the questions and then the essential question below.
I wish most sincerely there was not a slave in the province—it allways appeard a most iniquitous [vicious] scheme to me. Fight ourselfs for what we are daily . . . plundering from those who have as good a right freedom as we have—you know my mind upon this subject.
—Abigail Adams, September 22, 1774
[I]n every human Breast, God has implanted a Principle, which we call Love of Freedom; it is impatient of Oppression. . . . I will assert, that the same Principle lives in us. God grant Deliverance [rescue] . . . and get him honour upon all those whose Avarice [greediness] impels them to countenance [allow] . . . Calamities [affliction] of their fellow Creatures. This I desire not for their Hurt, but to convince them of the strange Absurdity of their Conduct whose Words and Actions are so . . . opposite.
—Phillis Wheatley, a black poet, March 11, 1774
[King George] has waged cruel war on human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur
miserable death in their transportation thither.
—from a draft of the Declaration of Independence
The petition of A Great Number of Blackes detained in a State of slavery in the bowels of a free & Christian County Humbly
sheweth that your Petitioners apprehend that they have in Common with all other men a Natural and Unalienable Right to . . . freedom . . . which they have Never forfeited by any Compact or agreement whatever. . . .
[T]hey therfor[e] humble Beseech your honours to . . . cause an act of the legislature to be pas[sed] Wherby they may be
Restored to the Enjoyments of that which is the Natural right of all men—and their Children who wher Born in this Land of
Liberty may not be held as Slaves after they arrive at the age of twenty one years so may the Inhabitance of this States No
longer chargeable with the inconstancy of acting themselves that part which they condemn and oppose in others Be prospered in their present Glorious struggle for Liberty
—letter to the Massachusetts House of Representatives,
January 13, 1777
1. Who is the writer of document D?
2. What assumption is included in Document C?
3. The writer in Document B believes slavery is what?
4. Writing Task: In what ways do each of these writers agree? Which argument is most convincing? Consider the background of each writer and use your knowledge of the era and the primary sources above to support your opinion