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Saber and Scroll

Abstract

In his response to colonial American cries for relief from the taxation and legislative control of Great Britain, Samuel Johnson, the great eighteenth century writer, excoriated the American rebels for the obvious hypocrisy of their claims to liberty. During the mid-eighteenth century, anti-slavery opinions arose in Britain, particularly among the educated classes. Johnson’s sentiment in his resolution to the American Congress reflects the growing British sense of moral outrage at slavery, which led to Britain’s abolition of its slave trade in 1787 and outright abolition of slavery in 1834. Not every black person in America was enslaved and the experience of individual blacks during the war was exceptionally diverse. This paper is intended to highlight some instances of African-Americans’ participation in the war; it is not intended to be a holistic examination of that very complex topic.

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