The best starting point for any consideration of the impact of slavery on American literature, with all the essays by acknowledged authorities. Although the emphasis falls on African Americans, substantial attention is also paid to white writers. Hazel V. Carby provides a valuable essay on the historical novel of slavery.
In order to understand Cooper's political writings best, it is necessary to set them in the context of the body of political theory to which they are related. Along with contemporaries such as John Taylor and John Randolph, Cooper set out in his political writings to describe the structure of American government in a language inherited from enlightenment political theory. In fact the central questions of these works are identical to those asked by writers from Sidney and Locke to Rousseau and Montesquieu: what is the foundation of civil society? What were the origins of civil society in the state of nature? How did natural man become social man? Cooper's starting point was the solemn triumvirate of natural rights: liberty, equality, and property. Yet when it came to slavery, Cooper would discover -- as had the founders -- that American slavery could not be reconciled with the discourse of natural rights. Before talking about Cooper's own political writings, I'm going to (very briefly and schematically) discuss the European and American tradition of natural rights theory and the status of "slavery" in that tradition.
Origins of American Slavery Essay - 962 Words