Race and Revolution

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Rowman & Littlefield, 1990 - History - 212 pages
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The most profound crisis of conscience for white Americans at the end of the eighteenth century became their most tragic failure. Race and Revolution is a trenchant study of the revolutionary generation's early efforts to right the apparent contradiction of slavery and of their ultimate compromises that not only left the institution intact but provided it with the protection of a vastly strengthened government after 1788. Reversing the conventional view that blames slavery on the South's social and economic structures, Nash stresses the role of the northern states in the failure to abolish slavery. It was northern racism and hypocrisy as much as southern intransigence that buttressed the peculiar institution. Nash also shows how economic and cultural factors intertwined to result not in an apparently judicious decision of the new American nation but rather its most significant lost opportunity. Race and Revolution describes the free black community's response to this failure of the revolution's promise, its vigorous and articulate pleas for justice, and the community's successes in building its own African-American institutions within the hostile environment of early nineteenth-century America. Included with the text of Race and Revolution are nineteen rare and crucial documents--letters, pamphlets, sermons, and speeches--which provide evidence for Nash's controversial and persuasive claims. From the words of Anthony Benezet and Luther Martin to those of Absalom Jones and Caesar Sarter, readers may judge the historical record for themselves. In reality, argues Nash, the American Revolution represents the largest slave uprising in our history. Race and Revolution is the compelling story of that failed quest for the promise of freedom.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - mdobe - LibraryThing

Gary B. Nash, Race and Revolution (Madison, 1990), chapter 2, "The Failure of Abolitionism." Nash addresses the perplexing question of why slavery was not abolished as part of the Revolution in ... Read full review

Race and revolution

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Social historian Nash ( Forging Freedom , LJ 5/1/88) presents three essays and supporting annotated documents dealing with the neglected topic of slavery during the Revolutionary era. He argues ... Read full review


The Revolutionary Generation Embraces Abolitionism
The Failure of Abolitionism
Black Americans in a White Republic
Documents for Chapter 1
Documents for Chapter 2
Documents for Chapter 3

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About the author (1990)

Gary B. Nash is the author of a variety of books on race and class in early America, including: Freedom By Degrees: Emancipation in Pennsylvania and Its Aftermath with Jean Soderlund (Oxford, 1991); Forging Freedom: The Black Urban Experience in Philadelphia, 1720-1820 (Harvard, 1988); Race, Class and Politics: Essays on Colonial and Revolutionary Society (Univ. of Illinois, 1985); The Urban Crucible: Social Change, Political Consciousness, and the Origins of the American Revolution (Harvard, 1979); Red, White, and Black: The Peoples of Early America (Prentice-Hall, 1974, 1982); Class and Society in Early America (Prentice-Hall, 1970); and Quakers and Politics: Pennsylvania, 1681-1726 (Princeton, 1968). He is a general editor of The American People: Creating a Nation and a Society (Harper and Row, 1986, 1990). In addition to teaching history at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he received a UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award, Professor Nash is the associate director of the National Center for History in the Schools. He holds his B.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University.