As the United States gained independence, a full fifth of the country's population was African American. Gary B. Nash reveals the experiences of these men and women who have been largely ignored in the accounts of the colonies' glorious quest for freedom.As the United States gained independence, a full fifth of the country's population was African American. Gary B. Nash reveals the experiences of these men and women who have been largely ignored in the accounts of the colonies' glorious quest for freedom.Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 2006-01-23 Nash's reminder that African-Americans made up a fifth of the population during the Revolutionary era exemplifies the purpose of this lively, accessible "corrective to historical amnesia," comprising three discrete chapters based on lectures he delivered at Harvard in 2004. The wide-ranging first chapter, "The Black Americans' Revolution," illustrates how the War for Independence whetted slaves' thirst for freedom. Nash chronicles slave defection to the British (for whom many more blacks fought than for the Americans) and sketches vivid portraits of individuals who sued for their freedom in the courts. The impassioned second chapter asks, "Could Slavery Have Been Abolished?" and argues the affirmative-that ending slavery during the postrevolutionary period was not only possible but would have unified rather than split the nation. Nash traces broad political and economic conditions (e.g., widespread abolitionist sentiment) to support his argument, and blames the nation's leaders and founding fathers for their lack of political courage. The concluding essay explores questions of citizenship and national identity through the early 19th-century writings of two contemporary Philadelphians, the African-American businessman James Forten and Tench Coxe, a white political economist. Nash (The Unknown American Revolution) exhibits gracefully assertive scholarship in this brief but meaty synthesis. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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