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First Edition   ©2009

Black Americans in the Revolutionary Era

A Brief History with Documents

Woody Holton (University of Richmond)

  • ISBN-10: 0-312-41359-9
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-312-41359-0
  • Paper Text , 208 pages

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In this fresh look at liberty and freedom in the Revolutionary era from the perspective of black Americans, Woody Holton recounts the experiences of slaves who seized freedom by joining the British as well as those — slave and free — who served in Patriot military forces. Holton’s introduction examines the conditions of black American life on the eve of colonial independence and the ways in which Revolutionary rhetoric about liberty provided African Americans with the language and inspiration for advancing their cause. Despite the rhetoric, however, most black Americans remained enslaved after the Revolution. The introduction outlines ways African Americans influenced the course of the Revolution and continued to be affected by its aftermath. Amplifying these themes are nearly forty documents — including personal narratives, petitions, letters, poems, advertisements, pension applications, and images — that testify to the diverse goals and actions of African Americans during the Revolutionary era. Document headnotes and annotations, a chronology, questions for consideration, a selected bibliography, and index offer additional pedagogical support.
"This is a superb collection. Its splendid introduction will help students see the key issues of the era. The documents introduce students to patterns of slave life before and after the Revolution and take them through the tumultuous years of the Revolution, from the first white protests to its uneven conclusion for slaves and free African Americans."
— Allan Kulikoff, University of Georgia