What is freedom

Published 10 Apr 2017

1. Freedom of the Pilgrims was a religious freedom. In the early 17 century radical Protestant groups found themselves oppressed by the British authorities. Their religious beliefs were trampled, their books burnt and their meetings banned. Thus they have chosen to literally follow the words of the Bible and set sails to find a Promised Land beyond the seas. Their ideal of freedom was a small self-governed religion-oriented rural community that would resemble Biblical times.

2. Freedom of the Founding Fathers was political freedom. By 1776 the people of the 13 American colonies have not felt themselves Englishmen any longer. Despotic British policies, heavy taxation, limitation of colonists rights and many other grieves that were later counted in the Declaration of Independence caused Americans to strive to political independence from Great Britain. Their idea of freedom was based on the philosophic teachings of the 18 century asserting that governments are blessed by people, not by God.

3. Freedom of frontiersmen was an adventurous freedom. Western frontier was a land with many dangers and few officials, so people in small frontier towns, ranchos, forts and missions had to become strong and self-assured. They could rely only on themselves, and thus felt themselves independent and free from any government influences. Frontiers generated an ideal of American hero, a brave and free person with guns on his belt.

4. Freedom of Afro-Americans was social freedom. Before 1863 thousands of black Americans became free. They worked, traded and even wrote books, yet abolition of slavery meant that freedom for all in America was no longer a declaration concerning only a part of the people. This meant that American society is no longer divided into two parts with one of them oppressing another.

5. Freedom of women was a gender freedom. Women in America had no right to vote before 1920. This was a result of medieval pseudo-scientific theories about domination of man over woman. Granting voting rights to women meant that they will have greater opportunities for development in the society that was than dominated by man.

6. In WWII Americans fought for freedom for all. By 1941 the entire Europe suffered from bloody Hitler’s tyranny with only England still resisting. War between Nazi Germany and USSR would hardly bring freedom to Europe because USSR was a regime that was far from freedom. Thus America appeared to be the only hope for liberation for many peoples. American investments to post-war reconstruction of Europe enabled the continent to restore its free life and major US contribution in establishment of the UN created an international mechanism for protection of universal freedom of nations.

7. In the Cold War the USA combated totalitarian communist regimes around the world in a struggle for democratic freedoms. Dictatorships like those in Korea and Cambodia killed millions, and America supported democratic movements to prevent communism from further spreading. This turned America into a leader of the free world.

8. 1960-s was a time when personal freedom boosted. New styles of clothes and music, new models of conduct, new literature, new art and the sexual revolution of the 60-s caused much problems, including drugs and weakened family ties. Yet this was a time when personal freedom of an individual was really the highest value in the eyes of the youth.

9. Global freedom was that what could be felt in 1990-s. Ruthless communist regimes gave way to democratization, many borders disappeared and people were now able to freely travel around the world communications and mass-media made the world smaller and more accessible for everyone upon his or her free choice.

10. Lost freedom? The situation changed dramatically after 9/11. Measures taken by the Government caused numerous talks that Americans have lost their freedom to the totalitarian authorities. Perhaps we are now really lost between freedom and non-freedom, but examples of liberty taken from history can be our guiding stars.


  • Oates S. B., Errico C. J. Portrait of America, 8th Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston, New York, 2003;
  • Nash G.B., Jeffrey J.R. The American People: Creating a Nation and Society, 2nd brief edition. Harpercollins College Div, 1996;
  • Zinn, H. A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2005.
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