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Africa and Africans have been a constant but changing presence first in colonial Anglo-America and then in the United States since 1619. Thinking clearly about their presence in the Early Republic requires making a distinction between the long-term and the immediate. Africans and their descendants loom large in the histories of the peopling of North America, of the emergence of American cultures, of the nature of American religions, and of the development of American economies before, during and after the Early Republic. As such, they must inevitably play important roles in efforts to understand the era in ways that cut through a nation-based periodization. Africans and people of African descent also played important roles in ways that are more specific to the Early Republic. This essay discusses both long-term and immediate presences to shed light on the reality and limits of the new republic's influence on African Americans and the ways African Americans influenced the new republic.