Brotherly Love examines the first forty years of the new nation, primarily through the fortunes of Philadelphia's unique free black community. Freedmen and fugitive slaves seek full participation in American democracy. Black churches become the fulcrum of the community, providing schools, aiding their poor, and agitating for the repeal of slave laws. Elsewhere, the invention of the cotton gin propels slavery into the Western frontier, and a successful revolt in Haiti inspires slave rebellions in the South. These threats and the surplus of slaves in the East lead to the rise of a colonization movement to send free black people to Africa. But most African Americans resolve to stay and challenge the democracy.
1781 - Thomas Jefferson writes Notes on the State of Virginia. In it, he tries to justify the enslavement of Africans by arguing they are biologically inferior people incapable of caring for themselves in a free world.
1790 - One in five Americans is held in bondage. Most of the 700,000 enslaved men, women, and children have been born in the South.
1791 - A violent slave revolt in the small French colony of Haiti -- known then as St. Domingue -- overturns the most brutal of Europe's colonial governments in the New World.
1793 - A schoolteacher named Eli Whitney applies for a patent for a new device to separate the seeds from cotton without destroying the fiber. It is called an engine, or "gin" for short.
1794 - Richard Allen, one of over 2,000 freed slaves living in Philadelphia, opens an African church in Philadelphia. He calls it Bethel -- "house of God."
August 30, 1800 - Inspired by the rhetoric of the American Revolution, a slave named Gabriel recruits a rebel army in Richmond, Virginia. Gabriel decides his troops will move at midnight, carrying a flag with the motto "Death or Liberty." But before morning, the plot is betrayed by two slaves. Gabriel and his followers are put to death.
1805-1816 - As the black population in Northern cities grows, legislation is introduced to ban further black immigration into Pennsylvania, and by 1816, black citizens are shut out of public celebrations on the fourth of July.
October 17, 1781 - Twenty-two days after the siege at Yorktown begins, Cornwallis and the British surrender. Americans place guards all along the beach to prevent fugitive slaves from escaping with the British.
1817 - A group of white politicians gathers in Washington, D.C. to found the American Colonization Society with support from the federal government. Its mission is to resettle free black people outside the United States.
1827 - New York frees all 10,000 men, women and children held in bondage in the state. But in a nation of 12 million, fewer than three percent are free black people.
September 15, 1830 - Richard Allen gathers forty delegates from black communities in New York City, Baltimore, Boston, and Wilmington, Delaware, for the first National Negro Convention.
1831 - Black minstrelsy bursts onto the American stage, giving birth to a new American myth: the "happy slave," the black man in his "natural" condition.
August 21, 1831 - More than forty slaves join Nat Turner and his men in open rebellion against their enslavers outside Jerusalem, Virginia. The rebels kill at least fifty-five white people. The Turner rebellion prompts politicians in Virginia to seriously consider for the first time a plan for abolishing slavery, but ultimately they decide against emancipation.
Key Interviews (In Alphabetical Order)
David Blight, Professor, Black Studies Department, Amherst College
Catherine Brekus, Professor of Religion, University of Chicago
Doug Egerton, Professor of History, Le Moyne College
Noel Ignatiev, Historian and author of How the Irish Became White
Norrece T. Jones, Jr., Associate Professor of History, Virginia Commonwealth University
Emma Lapsanksy, Professor of History, Haverford College
Rev. Jeffrey Leath, Pastor of Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, Philadelphia
Al Raboteau, Professor of Religion, Princeton University
Julius Scott, Professor of History, New York University
Margaret Washington, Associate Professor of History, Cornell University
Karen Hughes White, descendent of Wormley and Ursula Hughes, slaves of Thomas Jefferson
John Edgar Wideman, Professor of English at University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Author (Fever and Cattle Killing)
Julie Winch, Professor of History, University of Massachusetts, Boston
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