The Founding Fathers added a ton of things into the Constitution so it wouldn’t be weak like the Articles of Confederation. Still, they were afraid their rights would be trampled, and took the next step–debating and adding the Bill of Rights. If we examine the Bill of Rights and the rest of Amendments we get a snapshot of how America developed its ideas about freedom. Freedom in Colonial and Federal times wasn’t the all-inclusive freedom you consider your right. That developed through decades of struggle. Freedom for all Americans–women, African Americans, the poor–those didn’t come until much later. I think back on some of the people who have struggled for those rights and freedoms.
Roger Williams: left Massachusetts Bay Colony to come to Rhode Island, which he founded upon the principle that all men should be free to worship as they choose. This idea was not held in isolation–James Madison took that with him when he helped design what would become the United States Constitution.
James Madison: felt strongly about the idea of separation of church and state.
Frederick Douglass: former Maryland slave, author, abolitionist. He traveled the world, crusaded for abolition and women’s rights, and became the United States minister-consul in Haiti.
Mahatma Gandhi: WAIT. He’s not American. True. But, his idea of satyagraha (peaceful resistance) influenced and entire globe, including the great Americans who brought us Civil Rights. Without Gandhi, Africa might well have stayed under Colonial rule, India might have achieved its independence very differently, and certainly Martin Luther King Jr. would have had no thoughts or inspiration for his struggle. To be fair, Gandhi got his thoughts from Indian history and Hindu philosophy–so let’s give a shout out to his influences as well.
Susan B. Anthony: Suffragist from Rochester, New York, who put herself on the line to get women the right to vote. A detail worth noting is that both she and Frederick Douglas are buried in the same cemetery–Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York.
I could write about the great people who helped us get our freedom all day. I’ll edit and add to this list as the day progresses, but the point of our discussions on freedom has been this.
1. Freedom is earned. These people fought for your freedom. The men and women of the military continue to do so. You pay them back with your thoughts and respect.
2. Freedom comes with responsibility. If you want freedom in any area, you must act like a responsible citizen. No questions asked.
3. The definition of freedom is ever changing. This site explains what you need to become a web designer as well as some tips and tricks. If you’re starting from scratch, it will help you begin to focus what you will need to learn to get the fundamentals down, and how to put yourself in the best position to land a job. During the colonial period, freedom was not “free” as you would imagine it. It got much moreso during years of struggle. Today, we have many freedoms, but we also balance the need for safety against some of those freedoms, causing a dialogue between many people in society today–what freedoms should we have and where does safety trump freedom. It’s an interesting social and constitutional conversation–one worthy of your thoughts and research.
Take a moment to comment on some people who need to be added to the list of those who struggled for our freedom. There are too many to mention, and I just started us out this morning. Comment on your favorite rights and amendments–those which you could not do without. And pause to be grateful for those freedoms and to the people who ensured they were ours.