Slavery and the Founding of the Republic

Don E. Fehrenbacher and Ward M. McAfee

in The Slaveholding Republic

Published in print December 2002 | ISBN: 9780195158052
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849475 | DOI:
Slavery and the Founding of the Republic

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This chapter states that of the two documents that formally established the United States as a separate nation one, the Declaration of Independence, made no direct reference to African slavery but embraced principles plainly inimical to the institution; whereas the other, the treaty of peace with Great Britain, contained a clause dealing explicitly and perfunctorily with slaves as a form of property. This inconsistency manifested at the founding was eloquently expressive of the degree to which the reach of American ideals habitually extended beyond the grasp of day-to-day practice where slavery was concerned. Slavery at the time of the American Revolution was firmly established in the five southernmost states from Maryland to Georgia, and it was more than a trivial presence in most of the others. Slaves numbered about half a million in 1780, constituting a little more than one-sixth of the national population. In the South, two people out of every five were slaves.

Keywords: United States; Declaration of Independence; slavery; treaty; peace; Great Britain; American Revolution; slaves

Chapter.  14314 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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