Individual Rights in American Literature

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THE SIGNIFICANCE OF INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS IN EARLY AMERICAN LITERATURE

Early America experienced discrimination, slavery, segregation, and racism. In addition, individual rights are not equal and same for everyone. When American Anti-Slavery and Civil Rights timeline is analyzed, one can say that everything started with the slave trade. White people brought millions of black Africans to America in order to make them work as slaves. They worked in the gold mines and did the hardest works. As the time passed, slavery started to be regarded as a legal institution. Slave trade expanded in time. While in some parts of America slavery was protested, some parts continued to legalize it.

In order to attract the attention to the situation and state the unjustness in the individual rights some writers started to write on behalf of the African Americans. Anthony Benezet who was one of the most influential antislavery writer of America wrote a pamphlet called ‘Observations on the Inslaving, Importing and Purchasing of Negroes’, the first of many anti-slavery works. Another work called ‘A Narrative of the Lord’s Wonderful Dealings with John Marrant, a Black Man’ was the first autobiography of a free black whose name is John Murrant. Moreover, Thomas Clarkson wrote ‘An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, Particularly the African.’ It was one of the most influential antislavery works. What’s more, Olaudah Equiano wrote ‘Interesting Native’. It was the first autobiography by an enslaved African.

In each work writers demanded equal individual rights by using literature. Early American literature was the reflection of the society at that time. Authors wrote as an act of self-determination as a protest against segregation. Not only authors but also businessman began to protest the situation by writing. One of them was the Philadelphian black businessman and community leader James Forten. He published a pamphlet called ‘A Series of Letters by a...
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