Chains: Slavery and the Revolutionary War

2014_05chainsIsabel is a slave girl during the American Revolution in Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson, desperately searching for the freedom the rebels are fighting for. But neither the Americans nor the British are willing to grant freedom to a black slave.

It’s an eye-opening perspective on the complications of our Independence.

It reminds me of The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing series, especially the second volume when war has broken out and Octavian joins the Brit’s Ethiopian Regiment for the promise of freedom. But Chains is much more direct and approachable. The Octavian Nothing series takes too long to get anywhere.

The American experiment in freedom and democracy is complicated when you realize how wrapped up it is in slavery. The fight for freedom wasn’t limited to the Revolutionary War. It would be nearly a century before blacks in America could taste freedom, and another century before they could truly practice it as equals.

There’s a contradiction at the heart of our nation’s founding that we’re reluctant to face. But it’s there. And 238 years later it still leaves a mark on our culture.

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