Edmund Sears Morgan was an American historian an eminent authority on early American history. He was Emeritus Professor of History at Yale University, where he taught from 1955 to 1986. He specialized in American colonial history with some attention to English history. He covered many topics one being slavery. In Slavery and Freedom: The American Paradox, he mentions how we as American owe a debt of gratitude to those who have insisted that slavery was not an exception. In this article Edmund mentions that two such contradictory developments were taking place simultaneously over a long period of our history, from the seventeenth century to the nineteenth, is the central paradox of American history. Virginia was one of the colonies that succeeded due to slavery labor. Jefferson believed that the citizens of a republic must be freed from the control of other men and that they could be free only if they were economically free by virtue of owning land on which to support themselves. However, Jefferson contradicted himself because he wasn’t free himself. He was a slaveholder of hundred plus slaves. He believed that every man should be free, Jefferson was conflicted he knew that letting go of the slaves was a good thing but since he needed laborers to work he couldn’t let go. Men like Jefferson, John Locke and Andrew Fletcher had one thing is common that they were all champions of liberty and was also champions of slavery. They believed that poor people were thieves and threatened the property of honest men. Some of these poor people became slaves to anyone that would feed them. During the period before 1660’s slaves were free, they had almost the same equal rights. Some of these slaves bought their freedom and in some cases the masters would give them land, cattle, and houses. Northampton is the only county that has the records that exist, by 1668 at least ten slaves were freed in every household.
The purpose and view of the author is that America was built by
contradiction by our founding fathers and slavery played a major part of
America’s growth economically
In class we discussed about the all the men that believed in liberty,
however they also believed strongly in slavery. We talked about the
education for slaves which was none. They were not allowed to attend
school. We also talked about the tabacco fields and how slavery was
used to work in that filed. Talking and sharing this article in class
help me understand this article better, this was a difficult read for
me. The class understood why the American Paradox happened.
Questions still remain: Do we still live in an American contradiction? When did our founding fathers stop this contradiction?