“Race and Revolution” by Gary Nash


America has undergone a revolution that has helped to give a direction to world history. The perception that people around the globe had about freedom has changed and democracy has increased not forgetting, the human values that have also improved. Slavery took place for a long time before a revolution was staged to end it. Race and revolution by Gary Nash explain that as much as people differ in body features and color of the skin this should not be used to fuel differences. We find that the differences between the white and black people were so great, that differences had to emerge (National museum of American history 2000, 47).


Gary Nash clearly brings out the way several movements were started, to fight against discrimination and slavery. I found these movements to be dysfunctional because African Americans were still treated unfairly by whites. This book explains the state in which the slaves lived after their release and we find that they lived in very poor conditions in the slums. Nash explains the aspects of human slavery that were very dehumanizing especially in slavery carried out in the South, although a lot of discrimination was in the North (Lewis 2002, 95). The acts of dehumanization and discrimination included being beaten, being sexually abused, being denied a right to education, and separation of mothers and their children among others.

This book depicted the slave masters to have been selfish people because when slavery was being banned by states and some slaves were freed, some masters refused to free their slaves. Gary used the example of Doctor Benjamin Rush, who refused to release Grubber his slave even after being a member of the Abolition Society of Pennsylvania. I liked the manner in which Gary Nash explained the tax imposition to the slave masters in order to discourage slave ownership. Gary Nash does not however explain more on the issue of the government later finding another means of funding themselves from the lands located in the West (Phelps 2003, 104).

Gary Nash also explained the slavery revolution using the example of Gabriel Prosser, who was a slave freed in Virginia and worked as a blacksmith. He organized a plan secretly with other slaves to overthrow their masters. This part was very thrilling because of the mystery involved. It delighted me a lot when reading it, but only to find that their plan did not work because of the rain and also because their masters were already warned about the uprising. All in all, Gary Nash showed that the rise of the slaves by themselves to fight for their rights helped them earn their freedom in the long run.

This book also displayed the slaves to be God-fearing people and this was evidenced by the rebellion which followed after their church was closed. This rebellion was led by Denmark Versey, who was a slave. They felt humiliated because it showed a lack of respect for their God. This section was also very intriguing and once again we find that their plan failed, but I liked their determination although they were heavily punished. (Nash 1990, 72).

The most important part of this book was where the slaves finally managed to organize a rebellion and it went through. Their actions were very extreme and we find that they killed 50 whites. I found the move taken by the government, which was to lock the slaves out of education very unfair. Also, they were given white ministers to lead their religious ministries. This rebellion made an impact in their fight for freedom because later they were allowed to work in the US Army. I gained a lot of insight into how slavery came to be abolished in America. I also gained a lot of respect for the African Americans because they lost their heritage and had to adapt to new ways of living.

The book brings out economic issues, which emerged after the abolition of slavery because the slave masters wanted compensation for the release of the slaves. The slaves’ survival after release raised a lot of questions because if they had to look for work they would be employed by the same masters.


I also got to discover, that the masters viewed them as personal property and hence the reason for mistreatment. This book gives the reader a true image of how some of the social problems, such as poverty and discrimination came about. Gary Nash also brings out the role, which African Americans played in their revolution besides staging uprisings against the whites. This was because those who were prominent established churches for the black people as well as for fellow communities.

Gary Nash also uses articles and even essays that were historical to bring out his message strongly and clearly. This is a very good book and I would recommend it to students and the American people because it is well written and it has only 220 pages.

Reference list

Lewis, Jan.2002.The revolution of 1800: Democracy, Race, and the new republic. New York. University of Virginia Press.

Nash, Gary.1990.Race and revolution. London: Rowman & Littlefield.

National museum of American history (US).2000.Race and revolution: African-Americans 1770-1830.New York: Smithsonian Institute.

Phelps, Christopher.2003.Race and revolution. New York: Verso.

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