H105, American History I

Lecture 15:  Transition to Capitalism — Slavery and Freedom after the American Revolution

I.  Philadelphia’s Grand Procession of 1788 and the boundaries of inclusion and exclusion in the young United States
II.  Anti-slavery activism by whites
III.  Anti-slavery activism by enslaved and free blacks

1787-1789 Celebrating the Constitution
1787 Constitutional convention (May to September)
1788 New Hampshire ratified Constitution (9th state — Constitution in force)
1788 “Grand Procession” in Philadelphia
1788 “Federal Procession” in New York City
1789 United States Congress convened — April 1 (House), April 6 (Senate)
1789 President sworn in (April 30)

1774-1782 Anti-Slavery Action by Governments
1774 Rhode Island colonial legislature banned slave trade (on political principle, unlike Continental Congress, as economic boycott)
1780 Pennsylvania state legislature enacted gradual emancipation
1782 Virginia state legislature legalized manumission
emancipation = general freedom
manumission = individual release

1775-1794 Formation of Private Organizations
1775 Pennsylvania Abolition Society
1787 Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade (Britain)
1794 first American Convention of Abolition Societies

1787-1799 Debates about Morality of Slavery in the United States
1787 Thomas Jefferson, “Notes on the State of Virginia”
1791 Benjamin Banneker, “Copy of a Letter from Benjamin Banneker to the Secretary of State [Thomas Jefferson]”
1792 Samuel Jennings, “Liberty Displaying the Arts and Sciences”
1775 Samuel Johnson, “Taxation No Tyranny ”
1789 Jedidiah Morse, “American Geography”
1797 Edward Rushton, “Expostulatory Letter to George Washington”
1799 Isaac Weld, “Travels through the States of North America”

1807-1865 Abolition of Slave Trade and Slavery
1807 Britain abolished slave trade
1808 United States abolished slave trade
1833 Britain abolished slavery
1865 United States abolished slavery

1755-1828 Definitions of “Freedom” and “Liberty”
1755 Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language
“Free.  At liberty; not a vassal; not enslaved; not a prisoner; not independant [sic].”
“Freedom.  Liberty; exemption from servitude; independence.”
“Liberty.  Freedom, as opposed to slavery.”
1828 Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language
“Free.  Being at liberty; not being under necessity or restraint, physical or moral.
“In government; not enslaved; not in a state of vasselage or dependence; subject only to fixed laws, made by consent, and to a regular administration of such laws; not subject to the arbitrary will of a sovereign or lord.”
“Freedom.  A state of exemption from the power or control of another; liberty; exemption from slavery, servitude or confinement.”
“Liberty.  Freedom from restraint.”