An Analysis of Slavery and Freedom: The American Paradox
UCO 1200: Mr. Franklin’s World
The reading “Slavery and Freedom: The American Paradox” was written by Edmund S. Morgan for the Journal of American History, in June of 1972. The reading covers the history of slavery by whites in England, as well as the American colonies, from 1500, into the eighteenth century. The reading also covers American forefathers George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and the role they played in a “free” America (Morgan 1972, 6-14). Outlining the inconsistency of liberty in the United States, the reading shows American leaders (Washington, Jefferson and Madison) in a darker form than is shown in the history books found in American classrooms today. It sheds light on the distasteful history of slavery in the American colonies, and their battle with hypocrisy as they advertised a “free” America.
A positive point in this reading is the depth in which the author tells the stories of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. The article dedicates eight pages to showing how three of the most influential founding fathers in American history spent their lives speaking for freedom and liberation, also spent their lives as slaveholders, much like their fellow whites males. Jefferson, above all, is known most for his advocacy of republican freedom (Morgan 1972, 6). But it should also be remembered that while his life’s work was the freedom of all men created equal, he also pushed for denying these rights to the black community (Morgan 1972, 6). Ironically it was Jefferson’s distaste for a lack of freedom that made him keep his slaves, citing that his debt to others required him to keep his slaves, for they were far cheaper labor (Morgan 1972, 8).
A negative point in this reading is the lack of history shown after the eighteenth century. America made huge steps towards a truly free nation during the nineteenth century with the freeing of slaves during the 1860s, all the way up through the twentieth century, when the Civil Rights Act was put in place in the 1960s. The Paradox that Morgan explains throughout his work, and the evidence he cites to support it, can be put into even more depth by covering the over 100 years of history that are omitted. While many would argue that America is still