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Africans In America; Revolution (1750–1805); Interview with John Riley, 1997

Part of Africans in America.


John Riley is interviewed about George Washington's views on slavery, his low opinion of slaves, his position in 18th century Virginia society, his decision not to break up families by selling slaves, his marriage to Martha and her dowry, how the tobacco economy contributed to the Revolution, free blacks and armed slaves in the Revoutionary War, how Washington tried to stay out of politics, the freeing of his slaves in his will.

License Clip
Africans In America
Revolution (1750–1805)
Program Number



Interview with John Riley, 1997

Series Description

Broadcast: October 1998 This series explores the central paradox that is at the heart of the American story: a democracy that declared all men equal but enslaved and oppressed one people to provide independence and prosperity to another. The series opens in the 16th century on Africa's Gold Coast with the European and African trade, and ends on the eve of the American Civil War in 1861. Africans in America examines the economic and intellectual foundations of slavery in America and the global economy that prospered from it. The series reveals how the presence of African people and their struggle for freedom transformed America. Series release date: 10/1998

Program Description

102 Revolution (1750–1805)--While the American colonies challenge Britain for independence, American slavery is challenged from within as men and women fight to define what America will be. When the War of Independence is won, black people, both enslaved and free, seize on the language of freedom even while the new nation's Constitution codifies slavery and oppression as a national way of life. Producer: Noland Walker.



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


Race and Ethnicity
Smith, Llewellyn (Series Producer)
Riley, John (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Rights Summary

Rights Holder: WGBH Educational Foundation

Chicago: “Africans In America; Revolution (1750–1805); Interview with John Riley, 1997,” 11/25/1997, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed April 5, 2020, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_9BACB58AC3D44C6197CD713E48246384.
MLA: “Africans In America; Revolution (1750–1805); Interview with John Riley, 1997.” 11/25/1997. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. April 5, 2020. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_9BACB58AC3D44C6197CD713E48246384>.
APA: Africans In America; Revolution (1750–1805); Interview with John Riley, 1997. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_9BACB58AC3D44C6197CD713E48246384
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