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AMST301_midterm - 1 Morgan Freeman"Introduction to dramatic...

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1. Morgan Freeman, “Introduction to dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence.” Excerpt from Katz, ed., Why Freedom Matters . Why, some may ask, do I bring up such embarrassing truths on this glorious occasion? I answer: The real glory of the Declaration of Independence has been our nation’s epic struggle throughout history to close the gap between the ideals of this remarkable document and the sometimes painful realities of American life. The Declaration symbolizes the birth of our nation, of course, but also the constant struggle to achieve its ideals. (p. 12) Americans alike are constantly studying the past in order to better their future. Accordingly, the further you study the past, the more that becomes revealed. In this case, Morgan Freeman is looking past the “all men are created equal” persona of the Declaration, and instead analyzing its creation and motifs. Like Godfrey Hodgson states “The United States is devoted to justice, but in many ways remarkably unfair.” It seems our nation has been rooted in contradiction since its very beginning. The “embarrassing truths” Freeman refers to include Thomas Jefferson’s ownership of slaves and how the Declaration fails to address the rights and needs of blacks and women. He justly considers Jefferson to be a hypocrite, but the question must be posed as to whether Jefferson is guilty of this or if in fact he planned to better the future of America by his writings of the past. The late 1700s might not have been the right time to try and convince wealthy white males that equality for all is best. It is just a shame that they still weren’t convinced over a hundred years later. 2. Eric Black. Our Constitution: The Myth That Binds Us . Bear in mind, democracy was not the sacred principle it is now. It was experimental, scary, and based on the belief -- not inherently appealing to an elite group – that men of less property, less learning, less breeding should be allowed to govern themselves…The American experiment in government by consent of the governed was a turning point in world history. The American and French revolutions of the 1770’s and ‘80’s started a democratic trend that has never stopped… But America’s greatest contribution to that trend was made 11 years before the framers of the Constitution did their framing. (p. 47- 48) In this day and age, we might consider our nation’s government of the 17 and 1800’s as a “partial democracy.” In fact, the Electoral College and senate we’re ways for the founding fathers to filter out unqualified votes and indirectly address the general public.
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They thought they knew what was best, but in fact committed modern day sins. Interestingly, the constitution’s most liberal allowance of voters was Pennsylvania’s white male tax payers. Other states even had wealth requirements. This exclusion of the men of “less property” was completely unjust. The original Constitution without amendment was almost a way for the elite forefathers to gain back the power of the people that had been lost as a result of the revolution. This is because the Declaration of
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