Watch Slavery and the Making of America

A documentary of the history of American slavery from its beginnings in the British colonies through the years of post-Civil War Reconstruction, this series examines the integral role slavery played in shaping the new country and challenges the long held notion that it was exclusively a Southern enterprise. Remarkable stories of individual slaves offer fresh perspectives on the slave experience.

PBS
1 Season, 8 Episodes
February 9, 2005
7.3/10
Cast: Morgan Freeman, Jordan Brown, Chauncey Herring, Justin Jackson
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Slavery and the Making of America Full Episode Guide

  • While the Northern states adopted laws to abolish and phase out slavery, in the southern United States, slavery entered the period of its greatest expansion as cotton became the country's most valuable crop. The abolitionist movement, led by Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and others, gathered strength in the North, contributing to the widening fissure and imminent break-up of the nation.

  • While the Northern states adopted laws to abolish and phase out slavery, in the southern United States, slavery entered the period of its greatest expansion as cotton became the country's most valuable crop. The abolitionist movement, led by Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and others, gathered strength in the North, contributing to the widening fissure and imminent break-up of the nation.

  • From the 1740s to the 1830s, slavery continued to support economic development, but the Revolutionary War revealed the contradictions of a nation seeking independence while denying freedom to its black citizens. As the slave population reproduced, American planters became less dependent on the African slave trade and ensuing generations of slaves developed a unique culture of their own.

  • From the 1740s to the 1830s, slavery continued to support economic development, but the Revolutionary War revealed the contradictions of a nation seeking independence while denying freedom to its black citizens. As the slave population reproduced, American planters became less dependent on the African slave trade and ensuing generations of slaves developed a unique culture of their own.

  • As early as the 1620s, there were no laws defining the limitations imposed on slaves in the colonies, but within a hundred years, everything changed. By the early 18th century, the trade of African slaves in America was expanding and many colonies adopted strict "black codes," transforming the social system into one of legal racial oppression.

  • As early as the 1620s, there were no laws defining the limitations imposed on slaves in the colonies, but within a hundred years, everything changed. By the early 18th century, the trade of African slaves in America was expanding and many colonies adopted strict "black codes," transforming the social system into one of legal racial oppression.

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