Came across this article that presents 10 “facts” about slavery, in light of the movie Django being released recently. There seems to be quite a bit of spin, but I want to highlight one “fact” in particular:
5) Defense of slavery, more than taxes, was pivotal to America’s declaration of independence.
The South had long resisted Northern calls to leave the British Empire. That’s because the South sold most of its slave-produced products to Britain and relied on the British Navy to protect the slave trade. But a court case in England changed all of that. In 1775, a British court ruled that slaves could not be held in the United Kingdom against their will. Fearing that the ruling would apply to the American colonies, the Southern planters swung behind the Northern push for greater autonomy. In 1776, one year later, America left its former colonial master. The issue of slavery was so powerful that it changed the course of history.
enron: I have never seen anything about that. Most histories on the period cite a “soft” ideological approach to the conflict in the South (including from the best colonial South Carolina historian, Robert Weir), though I think there is some merit to the position that Southerners did fear impending slave insurrection in 1775. The British had done it before in the Caribbean. I would have to see more concrete evidence to believe it, and as Matt said, I don’t know how much exists. I am more than skeptical.
The date 1775 for Somersett’s Case is incorrect: it was 1772.
An argument that protecting slavery was one motivation for the Revolution in Virginia receives substantial support from Woody Holton’s FORCED FOUNDERS. Tying it so closely to Somersett seems dubious to me. In fact, the entire enterprise does, in light of the long-standing dispute between Virginia and the mother country by 1775 (or 1772).