African American Agency: Responses to the Contradiction of Liberalism in Early America
AbstractLisa Moynihan explores the juxtaposition of American liberty and freedom put forward by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States with the treatment of African Americans during the first century of the United States of America. Flight, independent economic success, rebellion and influential leaders all served to demonstrate African Americans' agency as a people and consequently their right to freedom.¬† All of these actions were in direct response to contradictions that existed in a young nation that boasted its liberty and protection of rights.¬† By their actions, African Americans proved that exclusion from freedom based on the ideas of classical and Lockean liberalism was unfounded. The cross-fertilization of the two ideologies championed the ability to acquire and establish property, individual agency, a resistance to oppression and an iron will to gain freedom.
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