The book in which I reference, Race and Revolution, is authored by the renowned Gary B. Nash. What I have discovered about the book and its author is aesthetically pleasing and quite beneficial in my quest to find out more about the history of African Americans, especially regarding their contributions and heroic acts before, during and after the Civil War. Gary Nash is a UCLA history professor, highly notable for his historical expertise on colonial and revolutionary history.
His repertoire consists of very controversial views in a series of books relating to that time painting a graphic portrait of the evolution of African Americans before, during and after revolutionary times. The majority of the book centers on three particular essays, the first being the revolutionary generations embracing abolitionism. This basically offers the many excuses involving politician’s deference to the failure of slavery.
He quotes many references and persons of great influence who publicly advocated the admonishment of slavery and published materials in support of their theories and ideals of the condescending tone of the colonist claims versus what they presented to society. There is much attention paid to the antislavery sentiment by leaders and the like relating to wars, motives, religions and its effects. With that he showcases Jefferson’s “Notes on the State of Virginia” that emphasizes his point of despotism incurred by slave’s masters and the struggles which whites felt compelled into submission, which of course ensued incessant debate.
In the second essay, he alluded to the precise failure of abolitionism and the results of said consequences. As Nash points out, instability amongst the union and confederate states was already at odds, politically driven and impeding any form of resolution concerning the abolishment of slavery…in theory, naturally doomed from the very beginning. He mentions specifically Georgia and South Carolina corresponding at odds between other southern states ruminating their ability to sustain against the north.
Despite this, the north tended to contradict themselves in their own denial and coincidently hoping to absolve themselves of any liability by redirecting judgment toward those in the south who were outwardly opposed to ending slavery. Again, Nash addressed the truth in addressing the rivaled parallels of hypocrisy by both the north and south. In addition to this, economic and social issues remained unresolved that only enhanced their case. Those who owned slaves were not prepared for the transition to a free labor force, much less the idea that they would be taxed, or worse…not be compensated in some way for their impediments.
Could prosperity for all withstand the aggravation that resulted? And what of socialism, how would the races then integrate into a mixed society? Would it be gradual, and if so, to what end? Would there be revolt, retribution or could white America become engulfed by the sheer number of slaves who by consensus now increased by more than a third of the populace? That brings about the final notion the Nash proposes in his book, Black Americans in a White Republic. Just as white Americans anticipated, much to their chagrin, blacks did indeed, resort to what was perceived as rebellious acts.
Some of the ones who were fortunate enough to emerge as free men decidedly sought to develop successful religious institutions independent of whites. They were organized, well structured, and persevered in taking charge of their own fate, educating and growing themselves to the point that colonist felt foolish and grew malevolent in their accomplishments. They assumed that former slaves would undoubtedly be too inept to sustain such an autonomous position. However, African Americans grew increasingly more prominent in their own communities as well as in white society.
Not to say that they lived happily ever after, as that was certainly not the case, rather they were able to substantiate their adeptness, but they were able to expound on their unsuspected commonalities. Although, as a nation, we are taught that the Emancipation Proclamation, in theory, was the main result for freeing slaves after the civil war era, conversely, winning the war with the help of the millions of African American slaves that fled North and served in the Union Army, which was enacted purely by necessity, in addition to appendices of the constitution of the United States was ultimately what initiated the freedom of slavery.
What I found most compelling, is that in all fairness, on his quest to dispel the myths and emphasize truth for many of the reports conveyed about slaves teachings we’ve received throughout our past and present generations, is that Nash provided many different resources using articles, speeches by prominent men and politicians, letters, petitions, pamphlets and the like to support his claims regarding the real impact African Americans held in their own defense against slavery in America.
The appeal of Gary Nash’s book comes through vivid details in which he captures many of the untold truths that impacted the country’s political, social and economic situation surrounding slavery at that time, which was a colossal factor as evident by the legislation that followed that exist in historical documents authored by extraordinary political figures, which is still relevant and remains in effect to this very day.
Nash was very adamant about sharing his views relating to abolitionism citing reliable facts into the slave movement to which he was philosophically opposed. Before reading this book, had you asked me what impact African Americans posed during the colonial period, I would have responded with “very little”, but after educating myself through this source, I have come to a resolute understanding of the falsehoods of slavery thanks to his unyielding efforts to highlight the necessary truths.