Question 1: Utilizing specific examples from both books, explain how the actions of African Americans damaged the institution of slavery and ultimately led to its demise.
African Americans damages the institute of slavery by escaping and participating in rebellions. On average, 1,000 slaves escaped per year. They wanted freedom so bad that they took the chance of being caught and whipped by their masters. Harriet Tubman was a slave who ran away and returned to plantations several times to rescue the rest of her family, as well as other slaves. It is said that she returned nineteen times and rescued more than 300 slaves. (Kelley and Lewis 2005, 194) The Underground Railroad also contributed to the damaging of the institution of slavery. This network provided shelter, food, clothing and disguises for slaves. It moved them station to station and eventually to freedom. Fredrick Douglas is another example of a successful escape by a slave. He escaped slavery in 1833 and went on to become an abolitionist, newspaper editor, and lecturer. (Kelley and Lewis 2005, 191) The escapes meant slaveholders were out of workers. Successful escapes gave other slaves the idea of escaping as well.
Rebellions were another way African Americans damaged the institute of slavery. In 1811, Charles Deslandes led 400 slaves in an uprising in Louisiana that made whites flee their plantations to get to safety. In 1817 and 1818, blacks and Seminoles teamed up to fight for their Florida homelands. They raided Georgia plantations and killed many whites, while rescuing slaves. Another great example is Nat Turner. He led a rebellion that consisted of approximately 70 slaves against whites in Southampton, Virginia. This was one of the most clear-cut cases of slave rebellion that occurred in America. Nat Turner went from one plantation to the next killing whites. It didn’t matter if they were male or female; adults or children; he had no remorse and killed them all. These rebellion made whites realize what slaves were capable of doing. It instilled fear into many whites, making them wonder just how safe they were on their own plantations.
Question 2: What is the thesis (central argument) of Chapters 1 and 3 of Race and Revolution? What historical evidence does Nash provide to support the argument? What information from your textbook might Nash have included to support his argument?
The thesis of chapters 1 and 2 in Race and Revolution is how slavery could have and should have been abolished sooner in America. Nash explains the five factors that made the 1770s and 1780s the perfect time to end slavery. First, the sentiment for ridding America of slavery was strongest. Secondly, the most resistant party of the nation, the lower south, was not able to break away from the rest of the states. Third, environmentalism was in full sway. This suggested that the degraded condition of slaves was a matter of social conditioning, not innate inferiority. Fourth, the opening of the west provided land for a compensated emancipation. Lastly, the unsettled territory of the west provided an area where free slaves could be colonized if they couldn’t remain in the settled parts of the country. (Nash 2001, 6-7)
Nash provided historical evidence to support these factors. These included the many proposals and suggestions that could end slavery. Many pamphlets and articles were also written to suggest ways of abolishing slavery. Amongst these pamphlets were Tucker’s Dissertation on Slavery, Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Law and Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiment. Many negative references to slavery were cited in Nash’s book. He wrote about the Quakers and how they thought slavery was sinful. He talked about the many petitions and bills brought forth to Congress. Amongst these was Foster’s petition, which included how slavery needed to end. Ferdinando Fairfax published a gradual emancipation plan. Tucker suggested another gradual emancipation plan that would...
Bibliography: Nash, Gary B. Race and Revolution. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2001.
Kelley, Robin D. G. and Earl Lewis, eds. To Make Our World Anew: A History of African Americans to 1880. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
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