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Historians' Viewpoints On American Freedom Essay

1249 words - 5 pages

In Stories of American Freedom, Eric Foner reveals that freedom has no “real” meaning behind it, just ideals that the different people and groups in the United States’ history that gives life to the word. Foner thus uses historical characters’ ideals of freedom to tell America’s history. Foner speaks of the hypocrisy in many groups versions of freedom, for instance when speaking of slavery and slaveholding in the United States shortly after the Revolutionary War era. He includes many people’s accounts on the combination of slavery and freedom, with some people even saying that they would not be free if not allowed to own those who could not be free. This account shapes the historical value ...view middle of the document...

The authors say that freedom in America is the central theme in all African Americans’ histories throughout time because they are constantly fighting for freedom, yet winning it less than often. They also believe that the inclusion of African American freedom and unfreedom in the United States “complicates” American history rather than staying within its own sphere. Amid the pages of Freedom on My Mind, is the shaping of a kind of hope that African Americans will persevere in American history and receive their much deserved freedom, both recognized among their communities and the United States government. The authors frame United States history from their concept of freedom—something that African Americans fought for and deserved—as a sort of tithe that African Americans gave to eventually gain the freedom that was due and the gaining of new cultures and ideals that would make the group stronger and what it would eventually become and is, today.
The most obvious similarity between Freedom on My Mind and The Story of American Freedom, is that they both primarily focus on the concept of Freedom in the United States. Both sources consistently provide reasons for or against freedom, but it is still the same basic idea no matter what or whom they draw the concept from in the characterization of this notion. Both also apply “freedom” to the historical accounts of American history. Their narratives shed a revealing light on how people thought of freedom in the past and compare it indirectly to how it is felt in the present time.
The difference between these two historical narratives is that one, Freedom on My Mind, focuses on how freedom affected African Americans while the other, The Story of American Freedom is broader and goes over how every group that was affected by this American “freedom”. Freedom on My Mind also says that freedom is a central part of all African Americans’ histories. The Story of American Freedom asserts that freedom is a part of all American’s histories through everyone’s different viewpoints on the concept.

The Story of American Freedom engages in history-making by just have been made. Foner preserves the past by using quotes from various sources and adding them as well as their context, so that the reader understands what the quote is in response to or where the person had said it. Foner interprets that past by adding his thoughts on each subject that is being mentioned on quoted. This happens, in parts, when Foner speaks of the term ”liberty” in context of slavery. A quotation from Nathan Appleton about Englishmen and slavery, Foner interprets this as the man saying that slavery is a detestable institution—and...

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