Revolution and New Nation (1751-1815)
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These newspaper advertisements seeking runaway slaves offer interesting details about the individual lives of eighteenth-century slaves and their masters.

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Item Type: Advertisement
Date: 1745

In this essay excerpt, British political philosopher and member of Parliament Edmund Burke explains that the existence of slavery in the southern colonies helps to intensify the "fierce spirit of liberty" among white residents who recognize firsthand the horrors and degredations that accompany a servile position in society.

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Item Type: Article/Essay
Date: 1775

This medallion was created by Josiah Wedgwood, a British ceramics maker and abolitionist, around 1787. The image of the kneeling slave in chains asking "Am I Not a Man and a Brother?" became an international symbol of the abolitionist movement. The image was widely reproduced during the late eighteenth century, appearing on crockery, snuffboxes,…

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Item Type: Artifact
Date: Circa 1786

Alexander Mackenzie was an English explorer in North America who discovered a Northwest Passage through Canada to the Pacific in 1793. Although praised for his efforts, the route he mapped out was too difficult to sustain real trade or further exploration. His 1801 book Voyages from Montreal was, however, a success at garnering interest in further…

Item Type: Book (excerpt)
Date: 1801

In this famous letter, Abigail Adams shares wartime news and opinions with her husband. Already planning for the war's successful conclusion, she admonishes him to consider the rights of women when developing laws for a newly independent nation.

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Item Type: Diary/Letter
Date: 1776

Writing to his friend, James Sullivan, who was a member of the Massachusetts General Court, Adams sets forth his arguments against giving women, children, and property-less men the right to vote.

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Item Type: Diary/Letter
Date: 1776

In 1778, General George Washington was approached with an interesting proposal from Lt. Col. John Laurens of South Carolina. The war in the southern colonies was going badly, in part because of a shortage of troops. Laurens's solution was to raise a black regiment by enlisting slaves who would be given their freedom in exchange for fighting against…

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Item Type: Diary/Letter
Date: 1779

South Carolina planter and merchant, Henry Laurens was one of the richest men in colonial America. He amassed a fortune through buying and selling African slaves. Before the American Revolution, over 40% of Africans who survived transport to the British colonies passed through South Carolina. Despite Laurens's close involvement in the slave trade,…

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Item Type: Diary/Letter
Date: 1776

In this letter, John Adams offers his wife Abigail information and opinions about the ongoing war, commentary on class divisions in the southern colonies, and a flirtatious dismissal of her earlier plea that the new nation provide suffrage for women.

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Item Type: Diary/Letter
Date: 1776

In this letter, John Laurens asks his father, South Carolina slaveowner Henry Laurens, to give him several slaves in lieu of his inheritance, so that he can arm them to fight in the Continental army.

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Item Type: Diary/Letter
Date: 1778