By Michael Kammen
Liberty, probably the most consequential phrases in our language, is without doubt one of the so much precious thoughts in American thought--and the most intensely debated. Its that means is continually moving, altering not just from one tradition to a different but additionally, over the years, in the related tradition. No definitions of liberty appear alike.
In this sophisticated and illuminating paintings Michael Kammen strains the evolving suggestion of liberty all through American historical past and offers a great framework for realizing the that means of the time period at the present time. He indicates that by way of the early 17th century a stress among liberty and authority used to be good well-known. during the eighteenth century and particularly in the course of the American Revolution a bond among liberty and estate used to be asserted. by way of the tip of the eighteenth century this idea of liberty used to be so good confirmed that it remained dominant in the course of the 19th. by means of the early 20th century, because the idea of social justice won prominence, liberty and justice have been paired often, and via midcentury the 2 had develop into allied to common American values. because the Sixties the union of liberty and equality has been the present suggestion, and reaching them has proved an enormous objective.
In a full of life and realized demeanour Kammen additionally indicates that americans have subscribed to varied definitions of liberty at the same time. particularly, there was a gradual enlargement of what's embraced by way of the concept that of liberty. This enlargement has created problems in public discourse, inflicting teams to misconceive each other. nonetheless, interpretations of liberty have broadened to incorporate such strategies as constraints on authority, a correct to privateness, and the safety of private freedoms.
In a brand new preface for this Banner Books version Kammen responds to reviews of past variants and locations his perspectives in the context of newer studies.