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American Paradox Essay

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Updated: Nov 15th, 2018

What Morgan mean by the American Paradox

Generally, a paradox is something that shows some contradictory qualities. According to Morgan, American paradox means that both slavery and freedom were used simultaneously in the American colonial history (Morgan 5). He claimed that the Englishmen’s rights were maintained through the destruction of the African rights.

Morgan ascertained that the democracy and freedom of the Americans mainly found their roots in the establishment of the American slavery. He also argued that constituents of American paradox stemmed from democracy and slavery, which existed in colonial Chesapeake (Morgan 12).

Why it is historically significant

American paradox is historically significant since it puts into consideration how both the economic conditions and social situations in Chesapeake resulted into democracy and slavery. Significantly, the American paradox made many historians and American scholars to begin having some interest in studying the foundation of liberty, rise of liberty, and often ordinary men and women were challenged by historians for nearly two decades about tracing racism, exploitation and oppression history.

In fact, the American is historically significant in the sense that it prompts scholars across the world to examine and unearth those historical issues on freedom and slavery, which colonial historians previously were never intending to do, especially the role that was played by slavery in the early historical development.

It is through such analysis portrayed in Morgan’s American paradox that many scholars and historians have recently come out to voice their concerns about slavery since before then the issue was merely treated as an exemption (Myers 1).

This was a rather worrying trend since the American population who suffered the effects of slavery constituted one-fifth of the entire population of the country, a figure that was too significant to be ignored in the revolution, and could not just be regarded as a mere exception.

Moreover, Morgan’s American paradox significantly prompted historians to examine the history of the one-fifth Americans who were directly exposed to the effects of slavery. It is through such detailed historical examination that scholars were able to form critiques on the old historical accounts and interpretations.

Arguably, elements of oppression and slavery were dominant features in the American history, an idea that is well supported by the American paradox. However, equality and liberty could not be advanced because the masses were fastened with chains of slavery, and to avoid addressing issues of equality and liberty in the American history to be merely baseless, did not only show how hard facts were ignored, but evading the problems that the facts addressed (Morgan 27).

In summary, Morgan’s views on American paradox presented two contradicting concepts, which are, freedom and slavery in the American history. The American equality and liberty never rose alone, but were accompanied by slavery, and the two contradicting developments took place in the American history for nearly two centuries, that is, between 17th century and 19th century (Beth 56).

Essentially, these centuries were crucial in the history of American paradox, and from the analysis it can be ascertained that modern historians and scholars hold a different view from that of colonial historians.

The colonial historians ignored the plight of the one-fifth Americans who were subjected to the effects of slavery and regarded their numbers as insignificant. However, modern historians examined the issue and held a different view that dignity and liberty could hardly be attained by the Americans who were exposed to a system of slavery that denied them human dignity and freedom.

Works Cited

Beth, Mary. A People and a Nation, Brief (9th Ed.). New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2011. Print.

Morgan, Edmund. “Slavery and Freedom: The American Paradox.” The Journal of American History 59. 1 (June, 1972): 5-29. Print.

Myers, David. The American Paradox. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2011. Print.

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1. IvyPanda. "American Paradox." November 15, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/american-paradox/.


IvyPanda. "American Paradox." November 15, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/american-paradox/.


IvyPanda. 2018. "American Paradox." November 15, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/american-paradox/.


IvyPanda. (2018) 'American Paradox'. 15 November.

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