Preserving American Freedom

The Evolution of American Liberties in Fifty Documents

Introduction

The Contested History of American Freedom

A thematic essay by Pulitzer prize-winning historian Eric Foner explores the centrality of freedom to America's identity and its complicated legacy.

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The Contested History of American Freedom

No idea is more fundamental to Americans' sense of ourselves as individuals and as a nation than freedom. The central term in our political vocabulary, freedom—or liberty, with which it is almost always used interchangeably—is deeply embedded in the record of our history and the language of everyday life.