Between 1775 and 1830, in many places African Americans gained their freedom from slavery and in others, the institution of slavery expanded. Eventually, slavery became abundant in places where it was most necessary and died out in the places where it was of little use. In response, most free African Americans and enslaved African Americans took action against their maltreatment by petitions and willingness to fight.
The first trend of declining slavery was visible from the first declared emancipation of slaves by Lord Dunmore in November of 1775. By granting freedom to all slaves who would raise arms against the American rebels, Lord Dunmore hoped to bring more troops into his ranks in Virginia. This movement continued following the Revolutionary period and until the turn of the nineteenth century mostly because of democratic reasons and a less urgent need for slave labor. Direct products of the enlightenment, Revolutionaries often followed the beliefs of new thinkers like Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Rousseau. Their emphasis on basic human rights and personal liberties completely conflicted with the morality of slavery. In addition, labor in the southern colonies to cultivate rice, indigo, and tobacco had leveled off, a trend evident by the 10,000 slaves who were freed in Virginia between 1782 and 1790. In fact, throughout the entire country, many states prohibited the importation of slaves and declared slavery unconstitutional—as Massachusetts did in 1783. Soon, problems did not involve the importation of slaves but rather were centered on the deportation of freed slaves! The American Colonization Society was established in 1817. Their solution to the “Negro Problem” was to create a colony on coastal Africa to deport the growing number of freed slaves. In a letter to gain funding for this project, the Vermont division of the society justified their mission.
In the early nineteenth century, just as the institution of slavery seemed to be nearing an...
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