Revolutionary Atlantics

The American Revolution would start a chain of events that reverberated not just in the British Empire, but across the wider Atlantic world. These changes would affect almost every major aspect of colonial-turned-American society, including slavery.  At the same time, there was a fierce reaction against such changes in the social order, a reaction that, in the case of the federal government, became enshrined in key ways in the US Constitution.

As the colonists shook off Old World ideas of hierarchy, power, and order, they were confronted with the lasting legacy of all of these ideals in the institution of slavery. How they responded and the actions they took regarding slavery was bound to have far-reaching consequences for the new nation. 


Somerset v. Somerset (1772)


Thomas Jefferson Draft of the Declaration of Independence (1776)

Pennsylvania Gradual Emancipation Act (1780)

Affidavit of Peter McNelly (1794)

St. George Tucker Gradual Emancipation Plan (1796)

Haitian Declaration of Independence (1804)