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Slavery and Its Consequences

Selected and introduced by David Tucker

Overview & List of Documents

This volume adds to the Ashbrook Center’s growing collection of primary document volumes covering major periods, themes, and institutions in American history and government. The documents in this volume address the codification of race-based chattel slavery and the related grievous problem of racial prejudice, as well as the development of a principled resistance to both slavery and its social, cultural, and political effects over the course of four centuries. The enslavement of some human beings by others was never a practice unique to the territory that would become the United States. Over time, however, a uniquely American discourse arose around the practice, as those who sought freedom and equality for themselves had either to grapple with the logical problem of denying it to others or to accept expanding such principles to encompass all men and women without regard to skin color.

  • Resolutions of The Germantown Mennonites, February 18, 1688
  • Virginia Slave Code, October 1705
  • Phyllis Wheatley, “On Being Brought from Africa to America,” “To the Right Honorable William, Earl of Dartmouth,” 1773
  • Thomas Jefferson, Draft of the Declaration of Independence, July 2–4,1776
  • Prince Hall, et. al., Massachusetts Antislavery Petition, January 13, 1777
  • Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens, Envisioning an African American Regiment, February 2, 1778
  • Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1787
  • The Constitutional Convention: The Three-Fifths Clause, June–July, 1787
  • The Constitutional Convention: The Slave Trade Clause, August 1787
  • The Constitutional Convention: The Fugitive Slave Clause, July–September, 1787
  • Minutes of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, 1818
  • James Tallmadge, Jr., Speech to Congress, February 15, 1819
  • Maria W. Miller Stewart, Lecture Delivered at Franklin Hall, September 21, 1832
  • William Lloyd Garrison, “On the Constitution and the Union,” December 29, 1832
  • John C. Calhoun, Speech on Abolition Petitions, February 6, 1837
  • John C. Calhoun, Speech on the Oregon Bill, June 27, 1848
  • Frederick Douglass, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” July 5, 1852
  • Abraham Lincoln, Speech on the Repeal of the Missouri Compromise (Peoria Address), October 16, 1854
  • Roger Taney, John McLean, and Benjamin R. Curtis, Dred Scott v. Sandford, March 6, 1857
  • James Henry Hammond, “Mud Sill” Speech, March 4, 1858
  • Mississippi Declaration of the Causes of Secession, January 9, 1861
  • Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural, March 4, 1865
  • Black Codes of Mississippi, October–December, 1865
  • Colfax Massacre Reports, 1874 and 1875
  • Frederick Douglass, “The United States Cannot Remain Half-Slave and Half-Free,” April 16, 1883
  • Alexander Crummell, The Race Problem in America, 1889
  • Booker T. Washington, Atlanta Exposition Address, September 18, 1895
  • Ida B. Wells-Barnett, “Lynch Law in America,” January 1900
  • Senator Benjamin R. Tillman, Speech in the Senate, March 23, 1900
  • W. E. B. Du Bois, Open Letters to Woodrow Wilson, March and September 1913
  • W. E. B. Du Bois, “Returning Soldiers,” May 1919
  • Major W. H. Loving, Final Report on Negro Subversion, August 6, 1919
  • James Weldon Johnson, Along this Way, 1933
  • E. E. Lewis, “Black Cotton Farmers and the AAA,” March, 1935
  • A. Philip Randolph, “Why Should We March,” 1942
  • President Harry Truman, To Secure These Rights, 1947
  • U.S. State Department, “The Negro in American Life” (Guidance for the Voice of America), February 5, 1952
  • F. L. Shuttlesworth and N. H. Smith, “Birmingham Manifesto,” April 3, 1963
  • The Civil Rights Act, 1964
    • President John F. Kennedy, Report to the American people on Civil Rights, June 11, 1963 
    • Senators Hubert Humphrey and Strom Thurmond, Debate on the Civil Rights Act, March 18, 1964
  • Fannie Lou Hamer, “We’re On Our Way,” September 1964
  • Daniel Patrick Moynihan, The Negro Family, March, 1965
  • Lyndon Baines Johnson, Speech at Howard University, June 4, 1965
  • Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) and Charles V. Hamilton, Black Power, 1967
  • “Combahee River Collective Statement,” April 1977
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates and Stephan Thernstrom, Reparations for Slavery, 2007, 2019