This chapter describes the antislavery impulse, which was as old as the republic itself. So too were sectional tensions deriving from the diverging interests of the free labor North and the slaveholding South. By the eve of the American Revolution, slavery had existed in North America for more than 150 years; it was legal in every one of the thirteen colonies. Different patterns of settlement and different geographies distinguished the Northern colonies from the Southern ones and set them on different trajectories. Slavery was marginal to the economy of New England, which was “wedded to family and wage labor.” It was pervasive in the middle colonies of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, but slave labor there was incorporated into a diverse economy; slaves worked in artisan shops, in the maritime industries, and on farms, alongside white and black indentured servants and wage workers.
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