The Virtue of Freedom By Bendrix Bailey

Freedom is one of the founding virtues of the United States of America. It comes in many forms, including Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Expression, Freedom of the Press, and Freedom of Religion. American Citizens have the freedom to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Throughout history, freedom was a driving role behind many actions of the United States, from the Civil War to the Humanitarian efforts going on today.

The following will discuss the virtue of Freedom mostly in the context of war, but also within different religions. To conclude, a prominent theory of war justification will be analyzed in the context of the wars that America has been in.

This country was founded on freedom. When the founding fathers wrote the constitution, they laid down the stones to create the freest country in the world. As a country that aspires towards freedom, we also stand to defend the freedom of other peoples of the world. Many of the most prominent wars in the past have been in defense of freedom.

The first war for freedom was the war that created America. The revolutionary war was fought to liberate the 13 colonies from British rule. The founding fathers fought to create a country that gave every citizen freedoms other countries prohibited.

Dont Tread on Me, Benjamin Franklin, 1754

The civil war was a war to free the slaves and allow all citizens of the United States to be free.

True Sons of Freedom, Charles Gustrine, 1918

The world wars were fought to defend and fight for the freedom of Europeans and Americans alike

The United Nations Fight For Freedom, Leslie Ragan, 1943

Religious References

Freedom has been with us since the beginning of time. Both the Bible and the Qu'ran advocate freedom to their followers. Though it may not consist of all the freedoms that the Constitution allows, it certainly shows that freedom was a part of early religion.

Galatians 5:1 "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."

Peter 2:16 "Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God."

Qu'ran [5:9] “Be always just, that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah. Surely, Allah is aware of what you do.”

Literary References

The Star-Spangled Banner, Francis Scott Key, 1814

Freedom has been a foundational part of this nation. Within the national anthem, a musical representation of our country, the song is telling the story of battle between the British and America in the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. It ends with the well known line, "land of the free, and the home of the brave," describing America as a place of freedom.

Ethical Interpretation

Before and after many wars, philosophers and politicians attempt to justify the conflict, whether by using political, economic, or ethical reasons. Freedom is a virtue, so only ethical reasons will be discussed.

A prominent theory that many writers, including Michael Waltzer, have consulted is called the Just War theory. It attempts to use different ethical reasons for justifying wars. On the topic of fighting for freedom, the Just War theory states that, "a nation may possess just cause to defend an oppressed group, and may rightly argue that the proper intention is to secure their freedom..." It then goes to say that waging war solely to pursue freedom is expensive, so only if the freedom gained is, "also complemented by the securing of economic or other military interests." In the case of the Revolutionary war, freedom from the British government was the foremost goal, but along with freedom, the Colonies also gained rights to expand west past the Appalachian range.

The next mention of freedom in the Just War theory is in the context of freedom fighters. The theory discusses whether it is just for guerrillas or undercover agents to disguise themselves as civilians to infiltrate enemy civilizations while fighting for freedom. The theory says that the, "fighter may breach codes of conduct." In the fight to gain freedom, I agree with the Just War theory.

The Just War theory states that, "in victory, the victors may enslave or kill the aggressors." This is where I disagree with the theory. Though in historical times, this was the norm, where the winner would take all, modern times have changed that norm. In the case of World War II, when the Allies won the war, we did not kill and enslave the Axis powers. We simply required them to cease their violent and unjust practices, and to form countries where freedom would abound.

The Just War theory is applicable to many conflicts in today's world, but in some cases, such as the victory situation above, the theory is outdated.

Photo Behind: Save Freedom of Speech Buy War Bonds, Norman Rockwell, US Government Printing Office, 1943


After exploring the virtue of Freedom in America, it is obvious that freedom is a founding virtue in the United States. The idea of freedom has existed for decades, as shown by the excerpts from the bible, and its mention in the Just War theory. Freedom has been a driving virtue behind many conflicts the US has been involved in, and using the Just War theory, those conflicts can be justified. The United States will continue to advocate freedom for both is own citizens, and for the citizens of countries globally.


Moesley, Alexander. "Just War Theory." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Accessed February 24, 2017.

Smith, Stephen . "86 Bible Verses about Freedom." What Does the Bible Say About Freedom? February 24, 2017. Accessed February 24, 2017.

Admin. "Is there Freedom in the Qur'an?" Jihad of the Pen. February 21, 2012. Accessed February 24, 2017.

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Bendrix Bailey

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