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Post Revolutionary War Emancipation and Entrenchment Student Organizer

Abbreviated Student Organizer File Available Here

  • I can explain how natural rights theory is foundational to the Declaration of Independence.
  • I can explain the purpose of government, according to the Declaration.
  • I can interpret and summarize the preamble of the Declaration of Independence.

Part I: Timeline

Directions: Fill in the organizer as you learn about each event. The first event is done for you as an example.

Event and Date What happened? Provide a one-sentence summary of this event in your own words. So what? Briefly explain if this event more fully realizes Founding principles of liberty, equality, and justice for all people or is in conflict with these principles. Ranking
10=Fully supports
1=Contradicts Founding principles
1776: Declaration of Independence is adopted by the Continental Congress American colonists formally state that humans are equal in their natural rights. The Declaration forms the foundation for the U.S. by stating all people are equal in their natural rights to life, liberty, and happiness.
1777: Prince Hall and African American men petition the Massachusetts Legislature
1777: Vermont Constitution bans slavery
1780: Constitution of Massachusetts claims all men are born free and equal
1781: Elizabeth (Mumbet) Freeman successfully sues for her freedom
1782: Virginia allows manumission by law
1783: Quock Walker successfully sues for his freedom
1783: Belinda Sutton petitions Massachusetts for an income from her former slaveholder’s estate
1783: Virginia passes law emancipating slaves who served as soldiers in the Revolutionary War
1784: Land Ordinance proposes to outlaw slavery
1784: Rhode Island and Connecticut pass gradual emancipation plans
1787: US Constitution is signed by 38 of the 41 delegates attending the Constitutional Convention
1787: The Northwest Ordinance is passed by the Confederation Congress banning slavery
1789-1815: French Revolution grapples with slavery
1790: The Southwest Ordinance is passed by the first Congress
1791-1804: Haitian Revolution begins as a slave revolt and creates a republic that outlaws slavery
1793: Invention of the cotton gin
1793: The first Fugitive Slave Law is passed by Congress
1796: Tennessee enters the Union as a slave state
1799: New York passes gradual emancipation plan
1800: Gabriel’s Revolution
1801: Georgia outlaws manumission
1803: Louisiana Purchase
1804: New Jersey passes gradual emancipation plan
1808: The international slave trade is abolished by an act of Congress


Part II: Connecting Events to Founding Principles

Directions: Plot each event on the graph below. Based on what you wrote in the “So what?” column, assign each event a value on the Y axis to the extent that it supports or contradicts the Founding principles of liberty, equality, and justice. Two events have already been done for you as an example.

Part III: Assess and Reflect

Now that you have considered major events related to slavery in the Founding era, write a response to the following questions:

  1. To what extent did events during and following the Revolutionary War confront the conflict between slavery and Founding principles of liberty, equality, and justice?
  2. How did the actions of individuals and groups during this time period work in concert with or against Founding ideals?

Your response should reference specific evidence from your organizer as well as your own analysis.

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