Slavery is the great American contradiction. The independence of the United States held the promise of liberty and equal rights for all, yet the country’s founding documents permitted slavery to endure. Indeed, many of the men who wrote and signed these documents owned enslaved men and women. Professor Hershman examines eight leading revolutionaries—George Washington, John Marshall, Alexander Hamilton, John Laurens, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and James Madison—and their relationship with slavery, including what experiences influenced their views and if their views changed over their lifetimes.
Part 1 of 3: Leaders of the American Revolution and Slavery (2:53)
Part 2 of 3: Slavery and Washington, Marshall, Hamilton and Laurens (8:59)
Part 3 of 3: Slavery and Jefferson, Franklin, Adams and Madison (7:55)