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History As It Happens

Jun 29, 2023

This is the first in a multi-part series of episodes about the radicalism of the Declaration of Independence and enduring importance of the American Revolution.

All Americans recognize the famous words of the Declaration of Independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." For generations, these words served as a common source of inspiration to achieve the promise of fundamental human equality. Today, however, competing narratives about the American founding are a cause of division, mostly over the issue of slavery. In this episode, eminent historians Sean Wilentz and Jim Oakes discuss how a revolution whose animating principles were embodied in the Declaration, fundamentally changed American society and triggered lasting political conflicts over the radical idea of egalitarianism.