As Revolution neared, the black population of the Thirteen Colonies was approaching half a million: the majority were slaves. From 1680–1740 the black population had doubled and between 1740 and 1770 it tripled in most states, with Virginia having the largest black population, at 187,605. In the northern states of New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island, with between 3–20 percent of the population black, slaves began to organize petitions. By 1804 all the northern states had abolished slavery. This north/south schism was economically determined. In the north, slave labour was used for household service, dock work, labouring, interchangeably with the white working class. The economies of the southern states of Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas and Georgia were built on labour intensive cash crops (tobacco, rice, indigo) farmed on plantations. Slavery was considered intrinsic to this system, its abolition unthinkable. The post-Independence rise of ‘King Cotton’ exacerbated the north/south divide.
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