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Part 3: 1791-1831
Part 4: 1831-1865

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Modern Voices
Deborah Gray White on the Revolutionary period
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Q: In the context of slavery, what about the Revolutionary period distinguishes it from any other period in US history?
Deborah Gray White

A: The Revolutionary period is distinguished because during this period more black people become free than at any other period in the history of slavery in this country. It is during the Revolution, because of the chaos of the war, that more slaves were able to free themselves by simply running away. It is also during the Revolution that more slaves are manumitted. It is during and shortly after the Revolution that the North abolishes slavery, or at least, begins those systems of gradual emancipation, that makes the entire black population, even though it's not a very large population, it's still a very significant number of African Americans becoming free. And as a result of this freedom, you have your true freedom fighters now out of slavery, because the Abolitionist Movement does begin with the free black population.
Deborah Gray White
Professor of History
Rutgers University

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