Humanities Class

American Paradoxes

With the ratification of the American Constitution, a nation was born under liberty and law, two things which are not necessarily harmonious. Ancient republics, such as Rome, not to mention democracies, such as Athens, had struggled to maintain stability with liberty. An additional challenge was that posed by political rule grounded in equality. Who is equal and on what basis? This is an enduring challenge philosophically and politically. This short course will begin to explore some of the paradoxes in achieving a commitment to ordered liberty under the law.

Through pre-founding documents, speeches, and literature, the course will explore how the American regime aimed to be a lasting political order grounded in both liberty and law.

1. Thomas Jefferson, “Summary View of the Rights of British America,” and Nathaniel Hawthorne, “The Maypole of Merry Mount”
2. Thomas Jefferson, “Declaration of Independence,” and Abraham Lincoln, “Gettysburg Address”
3. Abraham Lincoln, “Lyceum Address”
4. Flannery O’Connor, “Revelation” and “Memoir of Mary Ann”
5. Eudora Welty, “The Worn Path”