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Sullivan 1

Brendan Sullivan

Ms. Walek

Honors English 10B

8 June 2017

What Freedom Is

What is freedom in America? It really depends on what period in American history one is

looking at. During the early years of America, the freedom that was sought was freedom from an

oppressive ruler: Great Britain. Throughout its history, America gave freedom to many people,

but deprived it from others. As the United States has grown as a nation, so has the definition of

freedom. Freedom is the ability not to be forced to act or think in a certain way, but to be

accepting of an individual’s beliefs, practices, and lifestyles.

At the birth of our nation, the United States claimed to be a freedom loving nation, but

women and African-Americans were denied this freedom for much of its history. It took a civil

war to free African-Americans from the tyranny and oppression of slave owners. “Narrative of

the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave” and “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl”

really show the poor, ​gratuitous​ brutality that African-Americans have faced during the life of

our nation. Slaves and free persons alike were forced to live in fear of white supremacists who

would beat them, burn their homes, and even kill them. They did not have the ​supposition ​of

freedom many Americans enjoyed.

The American definition of freedom has also been different for women. The equal

treatment of women is another battle still being fought in America. Freedoms that women

deserve, such as equal treatment and equal pay, have been denied to them and continue to be

denied. “Woman in the Nineteenth Century” shows the unfair treatment that women have faced

and continue to face. The definition of freedom in this story is for women to be free of society’s

rules for how women should be treated and how they should act. Lawmakers ​procrastinated ​in

enacting women’s suffrage laws. The treatment of women is a dark stain on the history of

America, but it has been and continues to be changed by strong women.

The definition of freedom in America today not only involves equality for women and

African-Americans, but also the freedom for LGBT members to freely express themselves. Two

of my cousins have felt that their rights and their freedoms are threatened just because of the fact

that they are homosexual. When we were talking and my cousin revealed to me that he was a

homosexual, I thought no differently of him. It does not matter what someone’s gender or sexual

preference is, I will think of and treat them no different than others. As we were talking, my

cousin said that he has faced discrimination and has even been scared to tell people that he is a

homosexual. This is not America. America is a place where people should be able to express

themselves freely and not fear retribution for doing so.

America is a great nation where millions of people have come to enjoy freedom, but

freedom has been denied to many people throughout its history. Freedom and equality must be

brought to all people in America, not just the majority. Freedom needs to be brought to women,

African-Americans, and LGBT members so that all people in the United States are free. The

United States cannot call itself a free nation until indeed all of its citizens are free.