American literature prior to the civil war

300 words. Does not to be in essay format. Just a simple paragraph for each forum

**FORUM 1**
In the year 2020 it seems like such a simple and fundamental belief that all men are created equal. For me personally I subscribe to the flat young Earth, Christian centric worldview however, in modern society I can’t think of a single person that would promote one human being owning another. It took the works of a handful of men at the inception of an idea. The idea became America and it was structured with the belief all men are created equal. “Reason and Revolution refers to a literary period covering the radical changes occurring in both Europe and America that promoted new ideas about government and freedom.” (Various 2020) Writers like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson would create an atmosphere of individual expression through reason and the medium of writing would be their vehicle. Ideas like “Beliefs of any sort should be accepted only on the basis of reason, and not on traditional or priestly authority” (Paine) and “Reason enables one to break free from primitive, dogmatic, and superstitious beliefs holding one in the bonds of irrationality and ignorance” (Unknown) would provoke such discussion, it demanded literal action. These men (and others like Phillis Wheatley) would publish ideas, after great reflection, that so eloquently expressed logical treatment of people that “normalcy” would soon change. “In realizing the liberating potential of reason, one not only learns to think correctly, but to act correctly as well. . .”. (Spinoza) The control that institutions like religion, class, race had on the newly forming society would not carry the weight that it had previously less than a century ago. All men were recognized as equal no matter where they came from or their status.
Olaudah Equiano was a product of this enightment period within the newly organized United States. Once a slave, he was sold as a child in Africa and sailed across the Atlantic to work on a plantation. “By 1444, slaves were being brought from Africa to work on the sugar plantations of the Madeira Islands, off the coast of modern Morocco.” (Corbett 3). The slave trade expanded operations as European colonies demanded free labor during the explosion of plantation farming in the South. Originally tobacco was the cash crop of choice originating out of Jamestown, Virginia, but soon sugar, and cotton (Corbett 4) became essential to the success of the country as well.
Equiano discusses his experience on the “Middle Passage”. Once sold to traders (for the final time), he was thrown in chains and escorted onto a large sailboat. All slaves sent to America during this time in history endured the gruesome transatlantic crossing. It took on average one to two months and by 1625, more than 325,800 Africans had been shipped to the New World (Corbett 4). Thousands upon thousands of people died on these voyages. Some men would rather drowned than live in the conditions of that miserable boat, only to then live a life of a slave. Equiano speaks in detail of his account on one of these slave ships.
“When I looked round the ship too and saw a large furnace or copper boiling, and a multitude of black people of every description chained together, every one of their countenances expressing dejection and sorrow, I no longer doubted of my fate; and, quite overpowered with horror and anguish, I fell motionless on the deck and fainted.” “. . . I was not long suffered to indulge my grief; I was soon put down under the decks, and there I received such a salutation in my nostrils as I had never experienced in my life: so that, with the loathsomeness of the stench, and crying together, I became so sick and low that I was not able to eat, nor had I the least desire to taste any thing. I now wished for the last friend, death, to relieve me; but soon, to my grief, two of the white men offered me eatables; and, on my refusing to eat, one of them held me fast by the hands, and laid me across I think the windlass, and tied my feet, while the other flogged me severely.” (Equiano 65).
Reading his account, it is hard to fathom the complete dehumanization that took place during this moment in time. The quality of life on these slave ships could only be justified by doing so I suppose. When Paul the apostle writes “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:10, NKJV). I don’t think this type of evil could be obtained without the conscious and deliberate programming of a generation. The enlightenment period that forged a revolution was not just for the sake of taxation without representation, but freedom. Freedom of; choice, thought, day to day life and fundamentally liberty.

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(Reply with 150 words. replies should be substantive, insightful, and further discuss or explore the discussions. Try to include probing questions as well)

***FORUM 2***

The Age of Enlightenment had an immense impact on the founding fathers. Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine both wrote perfect examples of this ideal or reason over everything. When looking at the Enlightenment, it is almost like looking at the culmination of the Renaissance. One of the points of thought that sticks out to me is, “reason makes all humans equal and, therefore, deserving of equal liberty and treatment before the law”. Thomas Jefferson writes about this perfectly, “to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.——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”. Thomas Paine says in Common Sense, “let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the Word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America THE LAW IS KING. For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to BE king, and there ought to be no other. But lest any ill use should afterwards arise, let the crown at the conclusion of the ceremony be demolished, and scattered among the people whose right it is”, when discussing the same rationality as Thomas Jefferson. When discussing, “in realizing the liberating potential of reason, one not only learns to think correctly, but to act correctly as well”, Benjamin Franklin exemplifies this stance when discussing his view on the Constitution. He talks at length about it is better to overcome his own biased against the Constitution because of his personal views for the good of the people stating, “. Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution, because I expect no better, and because I am not sure that it is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors I sacrifice to the public good.”

Olaudah Equiano and Phillis Wheatly had drastically different experiences when it camo their experiences about a slave ship, as far as they tell. Olaudah writes, “The stench of the hold while we were on the coast was so intolerably loath-some that it was dangerous to remain there for any time, and some of us had been permitted to stay on the deck for the fresh air, but now that the whole ship’s cargo were confined together, it became absolutely pestilential.” Reading this is it hard to not get a full sense of the absolute horror and hopelessness of the situation. People just jammed together, so close that they cannot even move, no fresh air, it almost makes it hard for the reader not to be feel physically ill. When his writing is compared to that of Phillis Wheatly it is hard to get those same feelings. In her poem she writes, “Taught my benighted soul to understand That there’s a God, that there’s a Saviour too: Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.” Her plight when writing about not knowing, nor wanting to know about God seems smaller compared to Olaudah Equiano. “two of my wearied countrymen who were chained together (I was near them at the time), preferring death to such a life of misery, somehow made through the nettings and jumped into the sea”, this passage from Olaudah Equiano about the plight being so horrible and without mercy, with the only option to drown to escape is, at least when compared to Phillis Wheatly, repugnant.

(Reply with 150 words. replies should be substantive, insightful, and further discuss or explore the discussions. Try to include probing questions as well)

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