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France Declares War on Great Britain

France declares war on Great Britain, commencing the Revolutionary Wars that would continue, in various forms, until 1815. As well as land conflict in Europe, the wars extended across both countries’ colonies, with serious implications for enslaved people.

Third Bill to Abolish Slave Trade is Defeated

A third parliamentary bill to immediately abolish the slave trade is narrowly defeated by eight votes.

Eli Whitney Invents Cotton Gin

A young Yankee schoolteacher named Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin.

First Fugitive Slave Law Passed

The first Fugitive Slave Law is passed, allowing slave owners to cross state lines in the pursuit of fugitives and making it a penal offense to abet runaway slaves.

Philadelphia Free Blacks Rally During Yellow Fever Epidemic

Hoping to build sympathy for their citizenship rights, Philadelphia free blacks rally to minister to the sick and maintain order during the yellow fever epidemic. Many blacks fall victim to the disease.

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