Race and Revolution , Gary B. Nash, and Bibliographic Information

Posted: August 12th, 2013

Race and Revolution




Race and Revolution, Gary B. Nash, and Bibliographic Information

            Gary B. Nash has been an influential historian, has authored, and co-authored many books. He is currently a professor at the University of California. Gary Nash was at the forefront in the advancement of the National History Standards in the United States and World History. He was the co-director for this development. He became the National Center for History in the Schools director in 1994 and watched over the revision of the National History Standards that was published in 1996. He is therefore a respected historian and his book, Race and Revolution, has received many congratulations on its historical value. The book portrays a ravishing account of Slavery during the American Revolution.


            Race and revolution by Gary Nash addresses an important matter that was cause for stress among the American society. This issue bore both political and social significance from the moment the colonials stepped into the American continent. Slavery has been a thorny issue in various aspects of life. Many people have looked at slavery and have pointed to the revolutionary period and the antebellum period, the civil war and the period of reconstruction. Many have believed that these periods were the height of slavery in America. Gary Nash on the other hand has taken a different approach by looking at the ten-year period leading up to the revolution and the years after the revolution.

He tries to decipher if the North had minimal interest in slavery because they were not chained to the labor supply of slaves thus promoting slavery. On the other hand, political influence might have fought conscientiously to free the colonies from British imperial rule. In his second Essay, Gary Nash rationalizes the fact that the abolitionist movement especially when many believed that they would succeed. He mainly focuses his attack mainly on the figure that could be blamed for the sudden downturn in anti-slavery position n many people at the time. He tries to examine influence of the South in strengthening the calls for slavery. Slavery in the south was important because their farms were dependent on slave labor to generate income. The main issue for concern was the economic challenges that would have arisen from the abolition of slavery. The question of how the owners would be compensated after the emancipation was a big challenge. The economic impact to the northern colonies was also undetermined. Since slave law stated that, a slave was personal property. It would therefore be very difficult for the government to take away personal property form the South without any form of compensation.

Throughout the book, it is revealed that the North were presented with many opportunities to stamp out slavery but did nothing to seize these opportunities. The constitution of America was is such that it states that all men are equal before the eyes of the creator, and that all have been accorded the right to life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness. It was hypocritical for the American Revolutionaries to demand this of British imperialists when in the future they would seek to enslave its own people. In the third essay, Gary Nash discusses the role of the African American people in the abolitionist movement. He has mentioned many slaves who were freed and the their efforts in establishing churches and other communities while at the same time advocating for the emancipation of black people from a life of slavery. The final part of the book is dedicated to historical articles, essays and other documentation that have helped in making the other three essays understandable.


            1. One of the book’s major themes is slavery. Slavery has been a dominant issue in the book and Gary Nash has tried to follow the major events regarding slavery in America. The abolitionist stance against slavery was one of the few things that have been discussed in the book. However, not everyone hoped that slavery would end, and Gary Nash has been able to present the oppositions that the antislavery movement faced (Nash 1990). Among the challenges abolitionist movements faced was the Southern influence. The South was not willing to abolish slavery since Slavery was an important aspect for securing their livelihoods. It was also a very trying situation for the abolitionists since stopping slavery would mean compensation. Economically, the exercise would have caused the country a lot of money hence the slow pace toward the abolition of slavery.

Coupling slavery was the theme of liberty and freedom for all people. After the clash between the Americans and the British colonialists, the Pennsylvania Abolition Society was the first movement against slavery in the western world (Nash 1990). They formed the association in the belief that all men were crated equal and each man had the right to enjoy freedom. This aspect also brought out the theme of Nationalism. This is about the struggle for independence where nationalist ideals came up to seek freedom from the British rule. The nationalist movement did not only seek independence for the American people but for black slaves. They believed in a nation built on the principles of equality for all men regardless of race.

Another major theme that has been brought out in the book is the theme of race. The issues surrounding race did not just stem from the slave master relationship. The issues of race were from the fact that white men saw themselves as superior beings to the black men and women. Therefore, the rights white men shared were not supposed to be shared with the black men since they were not fit to be considered full men. This is why some of the white men justified that slavery for the black men was acceptable. However, the American Revolution was the turning point for slavery in a country that had grown tired of this system. It gave black slaves the opportunity to pursue the American promise of freedom.

War is another theme that could a minor theme but had major influence on how America was formed. The war against the British and the Americans was for freedom that set the pace for abolitionist thinking. That if America was going to be built on the foundations of freedom and equality, then no man was supposed to be held captive in slavery. The Revolutionary war was the peak of the differences that had amounted between the North and the South. It was the turning point for black men in America. African-Americans could now enjoy freedom. The aspect of war can be seen as the catalyst for the changes that built the foundations of the United States of America.

Organization of Information

            2. The book has been organized into three main chapters. The first chapter talks about the revolutionary generation embracing the abolition of slavery in America. In the second chapter, the book discusses the failures of the abolitionist movements and the probable causes for these failures. In the third chapter, the book discusses the issue of black men living in a white republic. In the first chapter, the author goes into an in-depth analysis into the role of race in the revolutionary war. The revolutionary generation failed to abolish slavery because they believed that the fragile nature of slavery would be the downfall of the Union (Nash 1990).

The second chapter discusses the failure of the revolutionary generation in abolishing slavery in America. In this, the author has established two major impediments to the eradication of Slavery in the country. The first impediment that he has discussed in length is the economic question and secondly the Social question. These two segments in this chapter discuss the social issues and the economic issues that made it difficult for the revolutionary abolitionists to achieve their goals. The third chapter, he has discussed the role of black men in revolutionary contributions. This group has been ignored in other history books.

The rest of the book provides and array of documentation, articles and essays that give more information about the subject in discussion. . At the end of each chapter, Gary Nash has created notes on information used that created the basis for the content in the chapters. In addition, he has provided footnote bibliographic entries that enable the reader to refer to the information that he cited from other authors and other historians. The organization of the book enhances the understanding of the information provided. The book discus issues of race from the decade leading up to the American and British war and the events that cam after. A reader is able to understand the relationship between race and revolutions in America.

The author’s use of historical materials

            3. The historical materials used include an array of materials that have been used to ensure that the materials given are authentic. Historians have been keen on ensuring that they have reported about the political atmosphere of historical America and have ignored the issues of Slavery in the country’s history. Gary Nash has collected and referenced a number of materials that contain aspects of slave history in America. The resources that have been used to give an authentic African-American experience. For example, Gary Nash uses the essay by Thomas Clarkson, Slavery and Commerce on the Human Species. After reading the essay, Rush had a dream about Africans participating in their religious rituals. However, when the white man comes, they are scared and stat to narrate their horrors of slavery. Rush was then compelled to fight against slavery and advocate for its abolition. The book is full of such historical information that tries to explain the slavery issues that took place in America at the time.

The book uses historical documents such as the constitution and other documents that give the readers an insight over the role of various individuals in abolishing slavery in America. Gary Nash examines the constitutional provisions about slavery and through this, he is able to draw historical facts. For example, in 1800, the Philadelphia African-American community petitioned the United States Congress to abolish slavery (Nash 1990). This was a repeal of the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act. This was meant to ensure that all slaves who had escaped to be returned o their owners. The article, Gabrielle’s rebellion: Another View of Virginia 1800, is an article that looks at the actions of a free slave Gabrielle Prosser. Gabrielle organized an attempt to overturn the influence of slavery in the southern states (Nash 1990). The essay reveals to us that the rebellion that was set for august 30th was thwarted by rain and the fact that he white owners had been forewarned. Slavery Abolished in America is another article has given the readers an important historical lesson on the abolition of slavery the moment Abraham Lincoln took over office in 1865. Slavery was a key issue for the Confederate states that prompted them to secede from the Union. The book, Race and Revolution has used an enormous number of resources to ensure that black America has been adequately represent in their role of creating the America that people now enjoy.

How the book ties into the context of this course’s assigned readings

            4. The book ties into the readings in class in various ways. The obvious connection is the fact that the book and the readings assigned in class are all historical text. It is important to note that the book, Race and revolution, is a true historical account. It complements class readings that have been inherently based on the political sphere in a period when slavery in America was Rife. It has also given flesh to the race issues that grappled America for decades. For example, in the third chapter of the book, that talks about black men in a white country shows that African Americans were willing to fight for a country that did little to recognize them as worthy human beings. This is one of the important aspects of the book where the reader has been given the opportunity to gain even more understanding of the African American situation at the time. It has recognized African Americans at that time as important to the cause for justice and equality in America. Therefore, Race and Revolution connects to the class readings in terms of being a source of additional information.

Purpose of Race and Revolution

            5. Gary Nash’s purpose for the book was to take a different route in the discussion of the American Revolution. Its purpose was also to discuss the reasons behind the failures of the Founding fathers to abolish slavery in the new world. This issue remains one of the most enduring questions in the history of America. The question as to why it took 100 years and fierce war to end slavery is beyond what many can rationalize. It is also mind boggling to think that the founding fathers failed to abolish slavery by ensuring that it was enshrined in the constitution. The decision for this is a difficult one when all factors are considered. Considering these factors, it was also difficult for the founding fathers to come up with a solid solution to the vice that was slavery. Comments coming from the leaders about slavery showed a difference in opinion from the moment the constitution was effective (Nash 1990).

Another core aspect of the book the dilemma of the black people where they were placed in a situation of slavery despite the independence of America from British  Imperialists. To the Southerners, the slavery was a necessity for their survival. To the North, the white population felt that they were superior to the black population. An educated black community was not going to accept slavery any longer and they rose up to fight against the vice. Among the white population, there were those who believed that slavery was to be abolished. Gary Nash wrote the book to give the historian a chance to have a different view of race and slavery. Nash provides nineteen documents that show that the African American population fought to establish themselves as true Americans. Despite the efforts of abolitionists, a civil war had to be fought so that black men could be free in a country that initially promised justice, equality and freedom for all men. Race and Revolution helps the history scholar to comprehend the issues that contributed to the failure of abolition efforts and how this failure affected the nation up until the Civil War.

6. The book is about the significant role Slavery played in the American Revolution. This thesis draws on the conclusion that the American Revolution was as result of slavery in terms of those who were for it and those against it. This issue divided the country and led to a Civil War. The Authors ideas and conclusions have been presented clearly and have been based on external sources and nineteen other documents to support this thesis. This make the book exude an aspect of authenticity and reliability in the information put forward. There is the detection of the involvement of economic and social factors shaping the face of history. It was economic and social issues that slavery took longer to be abolished than it should have.

The book correctly fits in with the work of the course effectively. It does not conflict with other materials read. Fortunately, it adds to the information that has been gotten from other books and actually helps one understand issues that have been discussed vaguely in other historical texts. The writing is clear and concise. The book is very short yet very informative. The book has endnotes that give information about the text that have been referenced through out the book’s content. The book also makes very insightful contributions to history. This is because it has presented another side to the issues regarding race and slavery. This is not to say that other texts have been inadequate. However, race and revolution has provided an exemplary arrangement that makes it easier to understand these issues. It is for the same reason that the book will be useful to other scholars. It is rare for a historical account to offer a great clarity in issues that have been considered vague in History. Race and Revolution does not have that problem.



            Gary Nash has continuous mentioned throughout the book that many people who supported the abolition of slavery were actually slave owners. However, these slave owners hypocritically refused to free their own slaves. Benjamin Rush as one such slave owner who refused to let go of his slaves but advocated for is abolition. Some issues made government reluctant to push for slavery freedom. For one, how were the slave owners going to be compensated once they let go of their property? Secondly, there was the concern for the newly freed slaves and how they would be able to survive economically. There was also the issue of superiority, where the whites believed that they were better than black Americans. The book has been an important tool examining the historical influences of slavery and the efforts for its abolishment.

The valuable insights brought out in the book are undeniable. The purpose of the book was to establish clarity in the fact that African Americans and White Americans alike fought for the abolition of slavery. The founding fathers failed to do this by failing to enshrine black rights in thee constitution. The consequences for this were a Civil War that held America at ransom and threatened to break the Union of the American States. However, the book also recognizes that it was not easy to secure black freedom. The historical value of this book lays in Nash’s ability to present facts that have been merely mentioned in other historical texts by discussing these issues in adequate length and clarity.





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