Finding Freedom: Big Ideas
Explore these short essays to discover how the stories of Andrew, Deborah, Eve, London and Jack fit into the broader experiences of people of African descent in the colonial and Revolutionary eras.
Big Idea 1: Learning from Primary Sources
What are primary sources, and how did historians and museum curators use them to help understand Andrew, Deborah, Eve, Jack and London’s lives?
Big Idea 2: Eighteenth Century African American Identities
The men, women, and children of African descent living in British North America on the eve of the American Revolution were diverse in many ways.
Big Idea 3: Slavery in American Life
From North to South, slavery was practiced throughout the American colonies. It shaped colonial laws and the colonial economy, and it was also shaped by them.
Big Idea 4: Agency and Resistance
How did people of African descent resist slavery? Using their intelligence, their bodies, their words, and whatever tools they could find.
Big Idea 5: Slavery and Revolutionary Ideals
Some of the same people who preached liberty and equality held their fellow human beings as slaves. How, and why, did they justify this?
Big Idea 6: Choosing Sides
Choosing who to support in the American Revolution was not as easy as we may think. For people of African descent, the desire for freedom might lead them to either side.
Big Idea 7: Wartime Experiences
People of African descent served as soldiers, sailors, spies, camp followers and more over the course of the Revolutionary War. Others tried, or had no choice but, to stay out of it altogether.
Big Idea 8: After the War
The end of the Revolutionary War brought both hope and frustration for people of African descent, regardless of which side they had supported.
Finding Freedom: Teacher Resources
Finding Freedom Primary Sources
Finding Freedom Glossary
Finding Freedom Interactive: Explore the stories of African American men and women in war-torn Virginia.Explore Online