Saturday, October 16, 2004

From Tom Palmer:
Good notes. I may have put the point too strongly. (I'll have to listento it again to be sure.) I think that I did emphasize that the American founders radicalized and purified the ideas, making them more consistent. But I don't think that they were original in their basic ideas aboutindividual liberty per se (although the constitutional scheme that Madison and others set out could be said to be a more radical innovation); they drew on a long tradition, to which they made frequent reference. Few of the founders would have given women any political role, although most were pretty hostile to slavery, but the abstract formulation of thelanguage of the Declaration and the Constitution certainly lent themselves to consistent application to recognition of the equal rights of women and of black people. (By the way, the piece you heard was less than half ofthe lecture that I gave; it just stopped around Magna Charta or somewheresimilar, which was a bit odd.)

Tom Palmer

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