Beginning in 1754, two years later the French and Indian war spawned what is known as the Seven Years' War in Europe. Attempting to gain control over the Ohio River fur trade, the North American French colonies in alliance with the American Indians attacked British troops along the western frontier. The war ended in 1763, forcing France and Spain to cede their regions of North America to the British empire (namely, Canada and Florida).
This acquisition and the resulting withdrawal of Spanish troops weakened the escaped slaves' defense in refugee camps stationed in the Florida bayous.
By 1768, the British parliament had established multiple taxes on trade in the North American colonies and restrictions on expansion west of the Appalachian Mountains. Discontent in the colonies climaxed in 1770 when five people were killed by British troops during the Boston Massacre, one of whom was a black dockworker named Crispus Attucks.
The 1773 Tea Act, entailing the introduction of the British East India Company as a tea monopoly in British North America, fomented undercurrents of revolution among the colonists.
The Declaration of Independence and African Americans
The patriots' revolutionary ideology that: “all men are created equal . . . that among these [rights] are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” belied the actual conditions of the enslaved population. In turn, this fostered hope for African American slaves that they too might stake a claim for equality.
The Impact of the Enlightenment
Isaac Newton's 1687 Principia Mathematica, expounding a universe structured by natural laws, and John Locke's essay “Concerning Human Understanding”, published in 1690, promulgated the...
... middle of paper ...
...y and New York—began a gradual process of abolition.
Around 100,000 slaves are estimated to have escaped their southern masters at this time, some disembarking from America with the British and others relocating to the North.
The amount of autonomy African Americans gained in the post-war north enabled them to pursue skilled trades, or to form isolated communities in the south.
The Revolutionary Promise
Chesapeake contained the largest number of free African Americans, but northern states were trending toward processes of emancipation and abolition during the revolutionary era.
By comparison, the number of free African Americans living in the southern states remained low.
Cities were the main destination for newly freed slaves and their families. However, the shift to independence was often hindered by a lack of economic resources and stability.
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