From the foreword by Philip Dossick:
“The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution was proposed on January 31, 1865.
In part, it reads as follows:
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
The simplest of words. But before that Amendment could be ratified, upwards of 800,000 american soldiers had to die, from combat, disease, starvation, and accident.
The racial hatred, torment and social disaster that accounted for that division among the states cannot be underestimated.
The entire episode must be regarded as one of the worst stains on the reputation of the nation still regarded as the “greatest social experiment in the history of mankind.”
Still, as a nation, we have clearly made enormous progress.
How did the United States get to this point? (Hopefully, a tipping-point.)
The freedom loving voices of countless men and women, famous, not famous, infamous, who simply refused to keep silent in the face of such malevolent bigotry.
Thomas Paine was one such person.
Henry David Thoreau another.
Yes, we have freedom of speech in America. But how many of us feel free enough in our lives and persons to actually give voice to our deepest concerns?
* Contains full texts of Thomas Paine's Common Sense and Henry David Thoreau's Civil Disobedience.
PHILIP DOSSICK is the New York Times critically acclaimed writer and director of the motion picture The P.O.W. He has written for television, including the outstanding drama, Transplant, produced by David Susskind for CBS. His most recent books include Aztecs: Epoch Of Social Revolution, Sex And Dreams, Mark Twain In Seattle, Oscar Wilde: Sodomy and Heresy, The Naked Citizen: Notes On Privacy In The Twenty-First Century, Raymond Chowder And Bob Skloot Must Die, The Deposition, Vincent Van Gogh: Madness and Magic, Lenny Bruce: The Myth of Free Speech, Ghost Dance Prophets: From Martin Luther King to Mahatma Gandhi, and Times That Try Men’s Souls: Henry David Thoreau and Thomas Paine on Slavery and Civil Disobedience.