Slavery and the Constitution
African Americans, Revolution, and the Evolving Constitution
Benjamin Banneker was a completely self-taught mathematical genius who achieved professional status in astronomy, navigation, and engineering. His acknowledged expertise and superior surveying skills led to his role as coworker with the Founding Fathers in planning Washington, DC. His annual Banneker's Almanac was the first written by an African American and outsold the major competition. He also was a vocal force in the fight for the abolition of slavery.
David Walker was an African American abolitionist and writer born in 1796. His famous "Appeal" was loosely modeled on the U.S. Constitution: Walker's Appeal, in Four Articles; Together with a Preamble, to the Coloured Citizens of the World, but in Particular, and Very Expressly, to Those of the United States of America, Written in Boston, State of Massachusetts, September 28, 1829.
Phillis Wheatley (1753?-1784) became the first English-speaking person of African descent to publish a book and only the second woman--of any race or background-- to do so in America. Her first book "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral"(1773), written in Boston while she was just a teenager, and when she was still a slave, became an international sensation.
Mercy Otis Warren
Mercy Otis Warren was a revolutionary and anti-Federalist. "Through her letters, poems, political essays, satiric plays, and a three volume history of the revolution, Warren placed herself among the handful of educated women whose discourse on the philosophical and political questions of the day was solicited by the men who dominated public life. A partial list of her correspondents includes: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and John and Abigail Adams."
Abigail Adams was not only the wife of John Adams and mother of John Quincy Adams, but was an accomplished and prolific letter writer who corresponded with important political thinkers of the time.
Judith Sargent Murray
Judith Sargent Murray was an early American feminist and an important writer of the late 18th century. Probably best known for her essay "On the equality of the sexes."