Lorenzo Ravano

Freedom and Property in the Slaves' Petitions during the American Revolution

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Black Abolitionism; Slaves' Petitions; American Revolution; Contractualism; Prince Hall; Lemuel Haynes.

The essay analyses some of the slaves' petitions for freedom written in New England during the American Revolution, as well as the writings of Lemuel Haynes, considering them as sources for the history of the political thought of Black abolitionism. Moving from the abolitionist resignification of the revolutionary rhetoric, in particular of the Declaration of Independence, the essay looks at the petitions' political discourse as a peculiar critique of liberal contractualism. On the one hand, the notions of «contract » and «natural rights» are used to advocate the abolition of slavery. On the other hand, the concept of «freedom» is disconnected from property, and it is conceived by African Americans as the natural right of human beings to liberate themselves from slavery.

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