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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

  • Historical Eras > Revolution and New Nation (1751-1815) (x)

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The Bostonians Paying the Excise-Man, or Tarring & Feathering

This 1774 British print, titled "The Bostonians Paying the Excise-Man, or Tarring and Feathering," depicts the attack of a Patriot crowd on Boston Commissioner of Customs John Malcolm. Tarring and feathering was a ritual of humiliation and public [...]

"A Modest Entry" Vies for Capitol Design Competition Prize

The entries submitted in response to Thomas Jefferson's call for an open competition to design the new Capitol building reflected the range of talent evident amongst America's architects and builders, both amateur and professional. Most of the [...]

Spinner

During the colonial era, nearly all manufacturing was done in the home, often by highly-skilled women laborers. The production of textiles was the nearly exclusive province of women working in the home, who supervised the labor of men and boys, [...]

Soldiers in Uniform

African Americans were faced with conflicting loyalties during the Revolutionary War, with some joining the British side in hopes of escaping from slavery, while many others remained loyal to the Patriot cause. While it's difficult to know the exact [...]

Am I Not A Woman And A Sister?

This illustration from an abolitionist book was a variation on the original 1787 seal of the British Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. The original organization symbol, showing a supplicant male slave, was designed by the famous British [...]

"Stowage of the British slave ship Brookes under the Regulated Slave Trade Act of 1788"

The campaign to abolish the Atlantic slave trade first emerged during the 1780s in Great Britain. Although slavery was not widespread in Britain, its merchants had long dominated the trade and helped to promote slavery throughout European colonies [...]

Chart of the Voyages of the Slave Ship Brookes

This chart shows detailed information about the voyage of the Brookes, a British slave ship documented by the abolitionist Thomas Clarkson as part of the evidence he presented to Parliament in 1788 in an effort to demonstrate the horrors that [...]

A Virginian Statesman Proposes Amendments to the Constitution

Richard Henry Lee was a Virginia statesman best known for proposing the motion calling for independence from Britain during the Second Continental Congress. In this letter to fellow Virginian and anti-Federalist George Mason, Lee sets out to correct [...]

"To the Right Honourable William, Earl of Dartmouth, His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for North America &c."

Phillis Wheatley, the first published African-American poet, was also the second woman in colonial America to publish a book on any subject. Born in Gambia, where she was taken into slavery, Wheatley was sold to the Wheatleys, a prosperous Boston [...]

Slaves Petition the Massachusetts Legislature

Throughout the revolutionary era, scores of slaves signed petitions that linked their demands for freedom with the cause of American independence. Below is the text of one such petition presented to the Massachusetts legislature.