By attacking slavery more fiercely than ever before, Revolutionary Americans freed tens of thousands of slaves. But the Revolution’s libertarian and egalitarian message had perverse consequences. It forced those Southerners who chose to retain slavery to fall back on the alleged racial deficiencies of blacks as a justification for an institution that hitherto they had taken for granted and had never before needed to justify. The anti-slavery movement that arose out of the Revolution inadvertently produced racism in America.
Signer of the Declaration of Independence, diplomat, second President; 1735—1826.
Son of John and Abigail Adams, diplomat, senator, sixth President, congressman; 1767—1848.
Merchant, Continental congressman, diplomat to France; 1737—89.
Philadelphia printer, writer, scientist, inventor, signer of the Declaration of Independence, diplomat to France; 1706—90.
Signer of the Declaration of Independence, vice president under Madison; 1744—1814.
Lawyer, diplomat, Continental congressman, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; 1745—1829.
Continental Army officer, aide-de-camp to Washington, son of Henry Laurens; 1754—82.
Diplomat to France, Continental congressman; 1740—92.
Mercantilist, diplomat; 1739—95.
New York lawyer, politician, signer of the Declaration of Independence; 1746—1813.
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)