A. Koval, PhD in History, Assistant Professor

Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Kyiv, Ukraine

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17721/1728-2640.2018.138.5


Basic principles of the US Declaration of Independence (as the example of the classical liberalism implementation) and main arguments of Southern advocates of slavery of antebellum period are considered in the article. The views of John Calhoun and George Fitzhugh were analyzed. Their attempts to harmonize the institution of slavery with the very important for the American society principles of equality and liberty were examined by the author. Both of them considered slavery as the institution with civilizing properties that should prevail over the absence of liberty for African Americans. Such views were based on racism – advocates of slavery were refusing to concede the physical and intellectual equality of the enslaved African Americans and the descendants of European colonists. Fitzhugh’s main arguments for the preservation of slavery were the examples of the classical societies and states, specifically Ancient Athens and Rome, which had been reached the high level of the civilization development due to slavery. Calhoun’s and Fitzhugh’s attempts to defend the traditional social and economical mode of Southern States led them to the denial of main principles of Declaration of Independence.

Key words: liberalism, liberty, slavery, abolitionism, USA, reception of antiquity.

Full text PDF


1. BROWN, D.; WEBB, C. (2007) Race in the American South from Slavery to Civil Rights. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

2. DAVIS, D.B. (1999) Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution 1770-1823. New York – Oxford: Oxford University Press.

3. JEFFERSON, T. (1776) Declaration of Independence: A Transcription [Online]. National Archive. Available from: https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript

4. DRESCHER, S. (2009) Abolition: A History of Slavery and Antislavery. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

5. FITZHUGH, G. (1857) Cannibals All! Slaves without Masters. Richmond, VA: A. Morris.

6. FITZHUGH, G. (1854) Sociology for the South or the Failure of Free Society. Richmond, VA: A. Morris.

7. FUKUYAMA, F. (1989) The End of History? National Interest. 16. Pp. 3-18.

8. GARNSEY, P. (1999) Ideas of Slavery from Aristotle to Augustine. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

9. HEYWOOD, A. (2012) Political Ideologies: An Introduction. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

10. MILES, E.A. (1971) The Old South and the Classical World. The North Carolina Historical Review. Vol. 48, No. 3. Pp. 258-275.

11. RICHARD, C.J. (2009) The Golden Age of the Classics in America. Greece, Rome, and the Antebellum United States. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

12. ELTIS, D., et al. edrs. (2004) Slavery in the Development of the Americas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

13. RODRIGUES, J.P. ed. (2007) Slavery in the United States. A Social, Political and Historical Encyclopedia. Oxford: ABC Clio.

14. ELTIS, D.; ENGERMAN, S.L., edrs. (2011) The Cambridge World History of Slavery. Vol. 3: 1420-1804. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

15. LENCE, R.M. ed. (1992) Union and Liberty. The Political Philosophy of John C. Calhoun. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund.