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.
Son of John and Abigail Adams, diplomat, senator, sixth President, congressman; 1767—1848.
Financier, Continental congressman, U.S. senator; 1741/42—1804.
Virginia revolutionary, signer of the Declaration of Independence, senator; 1732—94.
Soldier, lawyer, Virginia governor, diplomat, Secretary of State, Secretary of War, fifth President; 1758—1831.
Signer of the Declaration of Independence, “Financier of the Revolution”; 1734—1806.
Soldier, delegate to the Constitutional Convention, congressman, South Carolina governor, senator; 1757—1824.
Lawyer, signer of the Declaration of Independence, senator for Delaware; 1733—98.
Continental Army general, senator for New York; 1733—1804.
Lawyer and politician from Connecticut; signer of the Declaration of Independence; 1721—93.
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)