The Notion of Freedom In America | Literature Review

It is not a secret that diverse populations existed both in the colonies and in the new nation.  However, the tensions among these different groups reached new heights in the pre-Civil War period. Representatives of these different groups actively contested the shape the nation would take. Writers representing women, Native Americans, and African Americans interpreted America’s promise of freedom and equality for all people in their own ways. In fact, the fundamental idea was to perceive America as a nation than freedom. As a result, freedom, or liberty are the key political terms. The literature of the pre-Civil War period provides different pieces, which reflect the conflicting public rhetorics regarding freedom. Thesis statement: Analyzing the conflicting public rhetorics, each of the groups contributed to the promotion of the idea of freedom of the nation, but in their own ways, placing emphasis on their own interests in the struggle for freedom.

To start with, writers representing women, Native Americans, and African Americans used the rhetoric of the founding fathers differently. The writers who represented the interests of women were focused on the gender equality issues, protesting against discrimination and prejudices in human society. Harriet E. Wilson’s novel Our Nig was focused on the criticism of discrimination against women. Some other women writers and poets who raised the issue of women’s freedom are Lydia H. Sigourney, Catherine M. Sedgwick, Susan Warner and Harriet B. Stowe (Mankiller, 1999, p. 346). The writers who represented the interests of Native Americans in pre-Civil War period were aimed protecting the rights and freedoms of indigenous people.  For example, Israel Folsom and George Harkins highlighted the significance of freedom for Native Americans, which concluded in depiction of the “growing awareness of the erosion of indigenous cultural life” because of the limitation of freedom (Lauter et al., 2009, p. 24). The writers of the pre-Civil War period who represented African Americans were focused race-related issues in discussing freedom.

Actually, the rhetoric of the founding fathers was changed, because diverse populations had their individual interests in protecting human rights and freedoms. Various new techniques and themes were introduced by the representatives of these different groups, including the abolition of slavery, the growth of feminist ideas and the protection of culture of natives. Undoubtedly, the role of plays, essays, and fiction in the literature of the pre-Civil War period was significant in promoting the ideas of freedom by writers of different groups.

Among the works of the above mentioned groups of writers, African Americans’ slave narratives and abolitionist writings take a special place. There is the “complex relationship between abolitionism and slave narrative which gave rise to a body of literature that exhibits the signs of exchange, argument and debate” (Fisch, 2007, p. 62). Among these works are Thomas Clarkson’s An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species (1786), Olaudah Equiano’s The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (1789), Ottabah Cugoano’s Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Evil of the Slavery (1787), John Brown’s An Appeal and Romance of the Republic (1837) and many other works. Slave narratives and abolitionist writings have become crucial genres within African American literature, as these works provided much important information on the individual experience and history of slavery in the United States.

Thus, it is necessary to conclude that the representatives of different groups actively contested the shape the nation would take, using literature as the major tool. The writers representing women, Native Americans, and African Americans interpreted America’s promise of freedom and equality for all people in different ways, considering their individual interests in this struggle. Nevertheless, the notion of freedom has become the symbol of the entire nation.

 

References:

Fisch, A. (2007).The Cambridge Companion to the African American Slave Narrative. Cambridge University Press.

Lauter, P., Alberti, J., Yarborough, R., Brady, M. P., Bryer, J.R. (2009).The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Volume C: Late Nineteenth Century: 1865-1910. Cengage Learning.

Mankiller, W. P., Mink, G., Navarro, M., Steinem, G. & Smith, B. (1999).The Reader’s Companion to U.S. Women’s History. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

 

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016.

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

freeessays.club (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
Available at:

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]
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