Slavery and Revolution: What the History Books Leave Out

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — There are two sides to every story, including history.

We are taught that the Battle of Yorktown was a great victory for the American Revolution, but it also played a role in embedding slavery into the foundations of the new nation that followed.

Dr. Gregory Urwin, professor of history at Temple University, wrote about it in the Journal of the American Revolution.

“I was taught in school that Yorktown was the decisive victory that secured American independence during the Revolutionary War. It was the siege battle that set America free, so something deserving to be celebrated,” Urwin said.

“But if you were African American, and most were slaves, it was a victory that also perpetuated the existence of slavery. For another eight decades, African Americans, at least a large number of ‘between them saw the British cause as the one which offered them the greatest opportunity for freedom, freedom.”

Urwin said that ever since the Redcoats arrived on colonial shores during the war, and especially in southern colonies like Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia, black people tended to “link their fortunes” with the British side which ultimately lost.

“George Washington, days after the surrender, he will convert his army into an army of slave hunters to round them up, put them in a few detention centers so they can be picked up,” Urwin said.

“People who maintained these practices had what they thought were perfectly valid reasons for doing so. This is one of the reasons why it is important to study history and examine the inconvenient truths to overcome the triumphalist approach that so many Americans cherish.”

Urwin said the men who founded America as a nation “achieved something remarkable” and accepted the principles of broader freedoms that Americans expanded.

“But they weren’t perfect,” he said.

“You can’t say ‘All men are created equal’ and then say ‘Well, that really only applies to white men who have a certain amount of land, you know, a certain amount of wealth, don’t does not apply to women, does not apply to people of color, it does not apply to Native Americans, etc.”

However, Urwin said enough Americans had pushed the belief in equality for all enough to start a “trajectory of making things better,” even if it involved a lot of struggle.

“Yet I think the United States has ended up becoming something, at least so far, over time, bigger and freer than the people who founded it could have imagined,” Urwin said.

He talked a lot more about how Washington and Thomas Jefferson felt about slavery and the parts of the Treaty of Paris that involved returning slaves to their owners.

Urwin also commented on how much of early American history has gone undiscovered because we have seen so much of it through white perspectives, the need for a more inclusive view of American history, and the current setback against an equally more comprehensive perspective. of our past.

Read Dr. Urwin’s article here.

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