Preserving American Freedom

The Evolution of American Liberties in Fifty Documents

Section 3

Contradictions of Freedom in a New Nation

The documents in this section, spanning from 1776 to 1844, show how Americans grappled with slavery and inequality in a nation that had just declared that "all men are created equal." Headed by a contextual essay by Gary Nash, this section reflects the formation of America's earliest antislavery organization, Pennsylvania's decision to enact "Gradual Abolition" of African American slaves, the expansion and restriction of voting rights during the early decades of the 19th century, and religious and ethnic intolerance.