Abstract

The widespread use of the metaphor of slavery in the rhetoric of the American Revolution sparked intense moral debate about the legitimacy of Whig claims for freedom. When royalists, African Americans, and other abolitionists pointed out the hypocrisy of the patriots' words, many Whig leaders began to denounce the reality of slavery rather than relinquish the trope they used to define the crisis. Many texts, however, such as Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence, suggest that Whigs did so primarily to strengthen a weak rhetorical position. While such texts built an influential antislavery argument, they also help to explain the conservative reaction that took place once independence had been achieved.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6490
Print ISSN
0003-0678
Pages
pp. 353-386
Launched on MUSE
2003-09-12
Open Access
No
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