Have three scholars interpreted the role of slavery during the revolutionary ear, 1765-1787 - Essay Example

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The American Revolution was grounded on the fact that Americans championed the idea of them controlling their property, including slaves. Slavery served as a…
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Have three scholars interpreted the role of slavery during the revolutionary ear, 1765-1787
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The Role of Slavery in the Revolutionary Era, 1765-1787 The Role of Slavery in the Revolutionary Era, 1765-1787 Slavery played a major role in the revolutionary era, and many scholars have contributed in the interpretation thereof. The American Revolution was grounded on the fact that Americans championed the idea of them controlling their property, including slaves. Slavery served as a central institution, in the revolutionary era, among the American society, and many Americans accepted it as a positive practice. Even so, a conflict of interest existed since the Revolution was about two major ideas of equality and liberty. In fact, it was expected that that slavery would be abolished once America gained its independence, which was not the case1. To understand the reason behind the continued slavery during the revolutionary era, three main scholars have interpreted the role of slavery during the Revolutionary era.
Slaves were used by the Americans to buy their independence. According to Morgan, the Americans needed assistance from other nations, and they needed independence. Tobacco was the only the only product that was of value and hence feasible as a tool of assistance purchase. The production of tobacco was labor intensive and thus the reliance on slavery for production. The product was then used to shape the foreign relation of America and other states, especially France. In fact, the support granted by France to America is referred to as “King Tobacco Diplomacy” by historians, so as to act as a reminder of the role of slavery, through the production of tobacco, in the acquisition of American Independence during the revolutionary era2. From this interpretation, it can be coined that slavery was a necessary evil that the Americans used to gain their independence despite having the theme of the Revolution as equality and liberty.
In a much direct manner, the slaves enhanced the acquisition of American independence by serving in the Continental army. According to Spalding, prior to the American Founding, there were over 500,000 slaves, who were mainly concentrated in the five southern states, making up 40 percent of the entire population. The major American founders, such as George Washington, were slave owners. During the era of the Revolution, there was an inadequately trained army and hence the slaves were inducted into the army so as to help in fighting for the independence of America. This happened immediately after Washington started commanding the Continental army in 1775. Together with Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s plan was to use this induction as a way to grant the slaves their freedom in the long run3. This interpretation shows that the slaves were directly involved in fighting for the freedom of America.
Additionally, slavery inhibited the nervousness the Americans were undergoing during the battle for independence. According to Schama, a decision made by the British courts gave the slaves hope and had a wondrous impact. Word spread vastly to the slaves in America that Britain was embracing a slave-free policy right after the significant ruling. This was detrimental to the Americans since the British were now gaining support. The only option the Americans had on their disposal was the use of slavery to gain control of the situation. Through slavery, the American masters would influence the moves of the slaves and hence increase the chances of America winning the war. Indeed, the Americans won the battle and acquired their independence4. This interpretation hashes out the importance of slavery practice in the revolutionary era.
Morgan, Edmund. (2010, August 10). Slavery and Freedom: The American Paradox. The
Journal of American History, Vol. 59, No. 1: pp. 5-29.
Schama, Simon. (2006). Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution.
New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
Spalding, Matthew. (2002, August 26). How to Understand Slavery and the American Founding.
A Journal of American History. Washington, DC: The Heritage Foundation. Read More
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