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Emotional Pursuits and the American Revolution
Emotion Review  (IF7.345),  Pub Date : 2020-07-03, DOI: 10.1177/1754073920931566
Nicole Eustace

A major paradox of modern happiness gained wide public exposure in 1776 when Thomas Jefferson substituted the phrase “the pursuit of happiness” in place of Locke’s formulation: “life, liberty, and property.” In substituting happiness for property, Jefferson obscured the central hypocrisy of the Revolution, that—as contemporaries complained—the “loudest yelps for liberty” were made by those practicing slavery. Jefferson elided the overlap between the pursuit of happiness and the protection of human property. And he blurred the connection between the assertion of slave power and the creation of a broad emotional hegemony in the service of multifaceted projects of political-economic mastery. Today, historians of emotion face an urgent need to explore the deep roots of this feeling in systems of unfreedom.