Under the leadership of Samuel Adams, patriot propagandists deliberately and conscientiously kept the issue of slavery off the agenda as goals for freedom were set for the American Revolution.
The Boston Gazette, the most important newspaper of the Revolution, was chief among the periodicals that dodged or excluded abolition.
The Gazette misled its readers about the notable Somerset decision that led to abolition in Great Britain.
The Gazette also manipulated the racial identity of Crispus Attucks, the first casualty in the Revolution. When using the word slavery, The Gazette took care to focus it not upon abolition but upon Great Britain’s enslavement of its American colonies.
By the time the Revolution began, white attitudes toward blacks were firmly fixed, and these persisted long after American independence had been achieved. In Boston, notions of virtue and vigilance were shown to be negatively embodied in black colonists. These devil’s imps were long represented in blackface in Boston’s annual Pope Day parade.
Although the leaders of the Revolution did not articulate a national vision on abolition, the colonial antislavery movement was able to achieve a degree of success but only in drives through the individual colonies.