Many people have labeled this book as revisionist history because it does not follow along with the received wisdom that is most commonly discussed by historians. As far as slavery is concerned, most American historians have focused on the southern States and their demand for slave labor due to economic considerations. The plantation economy, so the story goes, was the driver that kept the institution of slavery alive and well in the American colonies and the New Nation after the revolution. Much blame is heaped upon prevailing economic conditions in the South and southern culture. Other arguments are made that state the founding fathers were not capable of tackling the problems of race and slavery because the new Republic was too fragile and there were too many other pressing issued to deal with. Race and Revolution looks at the long life of slavery in the United States from a different angle.
Gary B. Nash argues that there were missed opportunities early in the Republic that lead to the continuation of slavery in America. What is different about his thesis is his claim that many of these decisions and lost opportunities can be attributed to powerful politicians and individuals in the North, not the South. Nash takes a close look at the institution of Abolitionism; it’s failings and how black Americans slowly began to develop a sense of self as a nation within a nation.
Nash first introduces the issue of race in the Revolutionary era through the lens of the Abolitionist movement. There were many Americans that felt slavery was an evil and immoral practice. Many northern clergymen railed against the institution of slavery. The Methodist and Quaker churches both took a strong abolitionist stand. This resulted in considerable conflict with southern clergymen of these churches in the south. On the surface, the fault lines in this conflict seemed once again to break along Northern and southern lines. But a