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4.2. Declaration of Independence and African Americans. Drafting the Declaration. The Declaration of Independence signed on July 4 th 1776 formally stated our independence from Great Britain

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Declaration of Independence and African Americans

drafting the declaration
Drafting the Declaration
  • The Declaration of Independence signed on July 4th 1776 formally stated our independence from Great Britain
  • It was primarily written by a slaveholder, Thomas Jefferson who did not support black claims for freedom
  • He was so convinced that his famous words “all men are created equal…with certain unalienable rights” did not apply to slaves that he felt no need to explain it
drafting the declaration1
Drafting the Declaration
  • The draft originally submitted to Congress did denounce the slave trade
  • It was however deleted over protest from members of the South
  • The final version only mentioned slavery to accuse the British of encouraging slaves to revolt
drafting the declaration2
Drafting the Declaration
  • Jefferson and others did not mean to encourage African Americans with the Declaration (to hope this would be a war against slavery, but that is what they believed).
  • Black people were in attendance to hear Patriot speakers make unqualified claims for human equality and natural rights
  • African-Americans began to believe these principles applied to them as well and forced whites to acknowledge the contradiction between the nation’s ideals and reality
impact of the enlightenment
Impact of the Enlightenment
  • The European Enlightenment was an intellectual movement that stressed natural laws which governed the universe
  • John Locke applied these ideas to humanity and believed all people were born with natural rights to life, liberty and property
  • He believed if a government denied you these rights then it is your duty to overthrow them this greatly influenced American revolutionaries
african americans in the revolutionary debate
African Americans in the Revolutionary Debate
  • They greatest source of hope for African Americans was that white Patriot leaders would realize their revolutionary principles were at odds with slavery
  • Slaves marched in Charleston, S. Carolina chanting “Liberty!”
  • A Massachusetts man won his freedom in court, and their were eleven similar suits. These suits were increasingly based on the principles of universal freedom
  • African Americans familiar with revolutionary ideas petitioned their colonial legislatures for gradual emancipation
african americans in the revolutionary debate1
African Americans in the Revolutionary Debate
  • In 1765 African Americans demonstrated against

the Stamp Act in Boston

  • Black Minutemen kept watch with whites at Lexington and Concord
  • A black petitioner addressed a delegate to the colonial assembly
    • “We expect great things from men who have made such a noble stand against designs of their fellow men to enslave them…The divine spirit of freedom, seems to fire every human breast”
read 4 2 and answer the questions below pgs 115 1180
Read 4.2 and answer the questions below (pgs. 115-1180
  • 1. What was the purpose of the Declaration of Independence? Was it meant to include slaves?
  • 2. How did the original draft of the declaration deal with the topic of slavery? Why was it changed?
  • 3. How did African Americans view the Declaration of Independence?
  • 4. What was the Enlightenment? How was this influential to Americans during this time period?
  • 5. How did Africans contribute to revolutionary events in the colonies? Provide examples.