Slavery and Freedom: The American Paradox

The article Slavery and Freedom: The American Paradox, written by Edmund S. Morgan, shows how slavery can be paradoxically used to show the history of America and the rise of freedom for Americans. The use of slavery to paradoxically define American freedom is first shown by the use of Jefferson, the “slaveholding spokesman of freedom”(Morgan). His attitude toward slavery can be shown in two ways. The first of which is debt. Debt is a force that can hold down any free man and this was why Jefferson hated debt so much.

As a planter, he was basically forced into debt and resisted giving up his slaves until he found his freedom from that debt. He did not care about the freedom of his slavery as he did for his own. Jefferson also stated that a nation would be very fertile for tyranny if the men of a nation did not have enough land or money to support their families.

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This is paradoxical because the slaves live in a world of tyranny where the master is there monarch and the slave has no land or money to support their families. His second dislike was artisans.

He stated that they lived dependent lives because they were dependent on the customer and had no other business or land to fall back on. Jefferson, on the other hand, liked farmers because they were very independent and always had a source of income. Jefferson states “the man who depended on another for his loving could never be truly free” (Morgan).

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This shows that Jefferson is willing to fight for the artisans who are dependent but does not want to forgo his slaves. Although freedom was rising for those who were dependent on others, the same dependent slaves had no improvements in liberty. The article then continues to explain the origins of slavery.

It states that the whole story starts in England. In England there was a huge population boom that forced many people to un-employed and homeless. The problem with many rogue people is that they start to make a mess by robbing and breaking laws to get their essential needs. The political figures at the time though the only favorable solution would be to move these surplus people to the new world where there are many more opportunities to work. The new settlers landed in Virginia where they discovered the tobacco plant. At first, they hired indentured servants to do the labor, while paying them very little and barely providing the basic needs.

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Slavery and Freedom: The American Paradox. (2016, May 24). Retrieved from

Slavery and Freedom: The American Paradox

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