African-American History ~ Antebellum Free BlacksPresentation Transcript
Antebellum Free Blacks
Slavery in an Age of Revolution
Rhetoric of liberalism inspired blacks to hope for and/or demanding freedom.
Christian egalitarianism, too, became a source of inspiration.
Blacks challenged slavery in many places.
Many whites questioned their right to hold slavery in human form.
However, “scientific” forms of racism would be articulated; used to deny black humanity, justifying denial of “life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness.”
Q1: Black Patriots The majority of African Americans fought for whom during the American Revolution? (Match the region from which they hailed & the side for which they fought.) New England Blacks on behalf of the Americans New England Blacks on behalf of the British Southern Blacks on behalf of the Americans Southern Blacks on behalf of the British Answer: D
Sources of Emancipation Freedom came quickly for some, slowly for others, depending upon one’s location, one’s owners & one’s will. Petitions Freedom Suits Emancipation via Constitution or Statute Gradual Emancipation Running Away Individual Acts of Manumission
Freedom & Slavery Nationwide
Freedom & Slavery in the South
Freedom & Slavery in the North/West
Q2: Free at Last Where did the majority of free blacks live in 1790? New England The Middle Colonies The Upper South The Deep South Answer: C
Freedom: North versus South
Free But Not Equal The revolution did not bring racial egalitarianism, though. Free Africans Americans, both North & South, faced: Segregation Disenfranchisement Humiliation Bodily Harm Discrimination grew worse after 1830. Scientific Racism Rise of Jacksonian Democracy Colonization
Free Black Political Rights For the most part, free blacks encountered discrimination in public spaces & found their political & civil rights limited in both the North & the South. Right to Vote Right to Serve on Juries & in Military Civil Rights in Public Places Civil Rights in Private Places
Struggle for the Vote Paul & John Cuffee refused to pay taxes when they were not allowed to vote (1778-1780). They served jail time for non-payment, but took their case to the Mass Supreme Judicial Court. The Court ruled in 1783 that as tax-payers, the brothers had a right to vote. As late as 1860, only New England states granted full political rights to free blacks, rights secured through the persistence & organization of free black activists like Cuffee and their white allies. A silhouette of Paul Cuffee, the only known image of the man.
The Upside of Freedom Though not treated as equals by the vast majority of whites, freedom come with distinct advantages for the free black community: Protect family members Change employers Mobility Earn wages & acquire property Will property to their descendants Participate in abolition movement
Free Persons of Color CommunityFree African Americans formed tight-knit communities where self-reliance & mutual support became a source of survival & racial pride. B. Class
Most were “hard working, unschooled, and poor.”
Not enough wealthy or professional free blacks to “constitute a separate class.”
Nearly all “harbored abolitionist sentiments.”
New England & Middle States
Deep South (particularly Charleston & New Orleans).
“Overwhelmingly an urban people.”
Black Mutual Aid Despite revolutionary hopes, free blacks found themselves under assault in the streets & even saw their political rights turned backwards after the 1830s. Noted the Bostonian activist, Prince Hall: “We yet find ourselves, in many respects, in very disagreeable & disadvantageous circumstances; most of which must attend us, so long as we and our children live in America.” Took efforts to ameliorate their conditions via: Mutual Aid Societies Self-improvement Associations Negro Convention Movement Abolitionist Movement
White Images of Free Blacks
Miss Dinah From Edward Williams Clay’s series of 14 cartoons, called "Life in Philadelphia," which satirized the social conventions adopted by Philadelphia's blacks.Man asks, "Is Miss Dinah at home?She replies, "Yes sir but she berypotickly engaged in washing de dishes."He says, "Ah! I'm sorry I cant have the honour to pay my devours to her. Give her my card."