Did the American Revolution change things for slaves?Did the American Revolution change things for slaves?

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The American Revolution maintained the status quo for slaves. This was intentional. In a new country trying desperately to find common ground, slavery was not an issue the south was going to budge on. There were definitely people who wanted to end slavery. They just didn't want it enough to risk their new country.
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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Slavery was already dying in the northern states by the time of the Revolution, not so much out of abolitionist sentiment but because slavery was not as economically necessary or viable in a northern economy that was diversifying.  As slavery was abolished in the northern region, it did create a section of the country where slaves could "escape" to, even though that did not make them truly free, equal or safe.

Some slaves were promised their freedom in exchange for fighting in the Revolution on either the Loyalist or the Revolutionary side.  This promise was seldom honored, however, and for most slaves, life went on much as it had before.

amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I would agree with the above posters that not much changed.  They gained their freedom, but not any social status.  Many left to go seek a new life up north where they were treated worse in most cases than they were down south.  They had no jobs and no one really wanted to give them jobs, they had no place to live, and people up north didn't really open their arms to welcome them as people.  Many of these freed slaves returned to the south to their former owners to work for salary since they knew they would be given shelter and food and the weather wasn't so harsh. 

Of course, there were many who never left since they truly loved their masters and were treated as family members (especially true of house slaves as opposed to field slaves).  We don't hear much about them since it doesn't make good story-telling.  These same people have inherited much of their former masters' land.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Certainly nothing on a national or grand scale changed for the majority of blacks after the Revolution; however, some of the "heroes" of that war had new platforms of influence from which to speak against slavery, as mentioned above. 

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Unfortunately, in spite of some of the rhetoric, the American Revolution did not result in any changes to the way slavery was regarded and certainly did not change the way slaves were treated. The American Revolution was fought for completely separate reasons and it was only later that the institution of slavery began to be eroded.

lrwilliams's profile pic

lrwilliams | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

I would have to agree with the other posts in saying that the American Revolution had no effect on slave or slavery. The American Revolution was fought to gain independence from England and nothing to do with slavery.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I would argue that very little changed for slaves as a result of the American Revolution.  The Revolution was not fought in any way for the sake of the freedom of slaves and so it did not really result in any benefit for them.

Of course, the Declaration of Independence stated that all men were created equal.  In practice, however, we know that the people who wrote and signed it did not really believe that statement extended to blacks.  We can see this in the fact that people like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington had many slaves.

After the Revolution, slavery kept on as an institution much as it had before.  So I would argue that the Revolution did not change things for slaves.  A few blacks were freed for having fought on the American side, but this was a very limited effect.

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epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

Nothing changed for slaves as far as the Revolution went. The Revolution was more a political struggle as opposed to a social equality fight. Many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence owned slaves, so it was quite ironic that they used the words "man" and equality" so often; it just didn't apply to blacks.
krishna-agrawala's profile pic

krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

There were no major effect of American Revolution on the condition of slaves or slavery. As a matter of fact invention of cotton gin 1n 1793 led to large scale expansion of cotton cultivation, and with that use of slavery in southern states.

However, theoretically many leaders during American Revolution, including people like prominent leaders from south like George Washington, opposed slavery to varying degree. They argued that slavery had no place in a nation that had been formed to protect natural human rights. But the profit motive had far greater influence than did any moral arguments against slavery. All that we can say is that the American Revolution did create some pressure against slavery, but it had no immediate effect on conditions of slavery in the USA.

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