African in America logo
Part 1: 1450-1750
Part 2: 1750-1805
<---Part 3: 1791-1831
Part 4: 1831-1865

Narrative | Resource Bank | Teacher's Guide

Introduction | Questions and Activities | Lesson Focus | Resources | Program Index

Teacher's Guide Contents
The following index describes each episode of Africans in America, divided into approximately 20-minute segments, so that you can more easily select clips to use in the classroom.

In addition to using this tool, you may want to purchase the PBS VIDEOindex® version of the series, available from PBS Video at (800) 344-3337. This special version includes a comprehensive, printed index identifying people, places, events, issues, and topics and the segments in which they appear for each video of the series, as well as a time-coded video so that you can choose the exact location where a specific segments are located.

We have also expanded the list of Notable People and Curriculum Links available in the printed Teacher's Guide. You may use the segments on the Notable People, who are mentioned in the program, to create lessons or to add to your existing lessons. The Curriculum Links are topics and events covered in the series that you can use to expand and broaden units you teach.


Segment One (approximately 20 minutes)

Starting image: An inventory of slave names

• The "Age of Enlightenment" begins

• Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia, published in 1781, includes his views of black "inferiority."

• Richard Allen, a Methodist preacher, is one of over 2,000 freed slaves working with whites to raise money for an African church.

• In 1793 yellow fever breaks out in Philadelphia. Dr. Benjamin Rush believes that people of African ancestry are immune and encourages them to nurse the sick. Ten percent of the city's black population is claimed by the plague.

• In 1794 Allen establishes the Bethel Church.

Segment Two (approximately 20 minutes)

Starting image: Voiceover: " . . . is it but a machine in theory?"

• Eli Whitney obtains cotton gin patent in 1783.

• Westward expansion begins.

• Gabriel, a slave in Virginia, plots a rebellion in 1799, which is foiled by torrential rains and betrayal.

• The rebellion in Saint Domingue (Haiti), led by Toussaint L'Ouverture succeeds; in 1801 a new constitution outlaws slavery forever.

• Napoleon seeks American help to re-impose slavery in St. Domingue.

• France loses the war and the independent country of Haiti is established in 1804.

• In 1803 Napoleon sells the Louisiana territory to the United States for $15 million, which adds 13 new states.

• The Mississippi river becomes a major trading thoroughfare.

Segment Three (approximately 13 minutes)

Starting image: Maps of America

• In 1808 a ban on importing slaves from Africa or the Caribbean is signed into law.

• An intra-American slave trade emerges as surplus slaves from Maryland and Virginia, such as Charles Ball, are forced to move to the deep South and West.

• The African Methodist Episcopal Church is founded in Philadelphia in 1816 with Richard Allen as its Bishop.

• The American Colonization Society, headed by Bushrod Washington, is founded in Washington, D. C. in 1817. Its mission is to resettle free blacks outside of the United States, particularly in West Africa.

• Paul Cuffe, a wealthy African American merchant supports the idea.

• At a meeting at Bethel Church in 1817 Richard Allen, James Forten, and Absalom Jones argue in favor of relocating to Africa, yet none of the 3,000 men attending vote in favor.

Segment Four (approximately 12 minutes)

Starting image: On screen image: "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand. . ."

• In 1816 black Methodists in Charleston, South Carolina, vote to separate from the white church. When the African church is shut down by white authorities in 1822, Denmark Vesey, a freed slave, plans a wide-scale rebellion.

• The plot is exposed; Vesey and his followers are executed; white citizens of Charleston tear down the African church.

• The Compromise of 1820 allows Missouri to become a slave state but Southern states must agree to a limits on the expansion of slavery.

• Jefferson dies on July 4, 1826, leaving five working farms and over 200 slaves. To pay his debts, 130 slaves are sold at auction.

Segment Five (approximately 18 minutes)

Starting image: Aerial photograph of trees

• In 1827, a year before Andrew Jackson becomes president, New York State law frees 10,000 men, women and children; the last vestiges of slavery in the North were crumbling.

• Dr. Charles Caldwell of Philadelphia tries to "scientifically prove" the inferiority of Africans.

• The caricatures of Edward Clay, as well as minstrel shows become popular.

• By the 1830s a portion of Philadelphia's 15,000 African Americans enjoy a middle class life.

• In 1830 Richard Allen organizes the First National Negro Convention, resulting in a boycott of slave-produced goods and other anti-slave strategies, including a call for slave rebellions in the South.

• In 1825 Nat Turner voluntarily returns to bondage after successfully escaping in order to preach to slaves.

• In 1831, Turner leads a violent rebellion in Virginia; he is later caught and hanged.

• Turner's Rebellion help to bring national attention to slavery and the abolitionist movement.

• Virginia considers abolishing slavery but the economy is too dependent on slave labor and the effort fails.

Part 3: Narrative | Resource Bank Contents | Teacher's Guide

Africans in America: Home | Resource Bank Index | Search | Shop

WGBH | PBS Online | ©