If free people of color in New England had anticipated enacting their freedom as an entitlement, under the same terms as whites enacted theirs, they soon learned that whites’ understanding of antislavery and Revolu­tionary rhetoric was quite different from their own. As whites’ eighteen­th-century observation that servitude made slaves servile hardened into their nineteenth-century conviction that all people of color were inher­ently servile ¾ freed slaves perhaps, but free people, never ¾ people of color struggled to adapt their expectations of citizenship to the grim truth of mounting hostility, ridicule, and escalating efforts to control and even eliminate their presence.

Joanne Pope Melish, Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and Race in New England, 1780-1860 Continue reading “Free..And…Freed”