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Liberty & Slavery: The Paradox of America’s Founding Fathers

January 30, 2017 - Posted in SCETV Presents by Amy Shumaker

Liberty & Slavery by A. Troy Thomas and Christopher P. Marshall

Revolutionary America was a place of extraordinary paradox. America's Founding Fathers were men  yearning for a nation of individual liberty and unprecedented independence.  Thomas Jefferson expressed this desire for freedom from England in the Declaration of Independence in 1776 by writing: 

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their  Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." 

Indeed the phrase "all men are created equal" is the most powerful ideal that comes out of the American Revolution.  But, at the time of the writing of this phrase, the origins of America were already seeded with a cruel paradox because many of the liberty-loving Southern Founding Fathers were also  slave owners — including Thomas Jefferson, George Washington James Madison and Patrick Henry. 

But in examining this paradox, should we consider the 18th century culture into which the Founding  Fathers were born?  Further, why did the anti-slavery Northern Founders compromise with the   slave-owning Southern Founders regarding slavery before ratifying the U.S. Constitution? 

Travel with us back in time to better understand the men responsible for America’s greatest victories— and most heinous sins.  Watch as “Liberty & Slavery” explores the paradox of America’s Founding Fathers  being champions of liberty — and yet simultaneously champions of slavery. 

Airs: Airs February 19, 2017 at 7:00 pm on ETV

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