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From 1770 until 1860, the rate of natural growth of North American slaves was much greater than for the population of any nation in Europe, and was nearly twice as rapid as that of England.This was sometimes attributed to very high birth rates: "U. slaves, then, reached similar rates of natural increase to whites not because of any special privileges but through a process of great suffering and material deprivation".
From 1790 to 1810, the proportion of free blacks in the Upper South rose from less than 1% to overall, and nationally, the proportion of free blacks among blacks rose to 13%.
The sentiments of the American Revolution and the equality evoked by the Declaration of Independence rallied many black Americans toward the revolutionary cause and their own hopes of emancipation; both enslaved and free black men fought in the Revolution on both sides.
In the 1770s, blacks throughout New England began sending petitions to northern legislatures demanding freedom; by 1800, all of the northern states had abolished slavery or set measures in place to gradually reduce it.
Slaves were sometimes allowed to buy their freedom; they might be permitted to save money from fees paid when they were "hired out" to work for other parties.
In the mid-to-late 18th century, Methodist and Baptist evangelists in the first Great Awakening encouraged slaveholders to free their slaves, in their belief that all men were equal before God.
In United States history, a free Negro or free black was the legal status, in the geographic area of the United States, of blacks who were not slaves.
This term was in use before the independence of the Thirteen Colonies and elsewhere in British North America, until the abolition of slavery in the United States in 1865, which rendered the term unnecessary.
Black labor was of economic importance in the export-oriented tobacco plantations of Virginia and Maryland, and the rice and indigo plantations of South Carolina.
About 287,000 slaves were imported into the Thirteen Colonies, or 2% of the 12 million slaves brought across from Africa.
They converted many slaves to Christianity and approved black leaders as preachers; blacks developed their own strain of Christianity.
Before the American Revolutionary War, few slaves were manumitted. Beginning with Lord Dunmore, governor of Virginia, the British colonial governments recruited slaves of rebels to the armed forces and promised them freedom in return.
These relationships took place mostly among the working class, reflecting the more fluid societies of the time.