The Revolutionary Challenge to Slavery

The Revolutionary Challenge to Slavery
James H. Hershman, Jr.
Professor of Liberal Studies, Georgetown University
July 3, 2013

The Revolutionary War disrupted the institution of slavery in the United States. Lord Dunmore’s 1775 proclamation in Virginia promised freedom to men enslaved by rebel masters if they would fight in the royal army. The additional social unrest provided by war made it difficult for slaveholders to retain their property, and many enslaved people liberated themselves. Enlightenment ideals of equality and reason that permeated the Revolution led some Americans to question the institution of slavery for the first time. Professor Hershman describes these conditions and the difference between slave societies and societies with slaves in America.

Part 1 of 6: Slave Societies vs. Societies with Slaves (7:00)

Part 2 of 6 Racial Slavery: Human Rights and Private Property (2:49)

Part 3 of 6: Slave Owners: Feudalism to Capitalism (4:43)

Part 4 of 6: Abolitionism and Questioning (4:32)

Part 5 of 6: Emancipation and Manumission Law (4:21)

Part 6 of 6: Summary (2:49)


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