Thomas Wright was born on November 26, 1742, in Chicago, Illinois. He lived with his parents and other two brothers, Cedric and Roscoe, in a low-state house on the outskirts of Chicago. The family depended on income from ordinary jobs. Among the three children, Wright grew up as a rather astute and curious person, a behavior that would always land him into trouble with the boys from his neighborhood. Besides, being born at the center of the American Civil War, Wright’s life was defined by the rough experiences of political instability.
The war was marked by various oppressive political decisions which were majorly made by Great Britain. The pre-declaration of Independence was marked by Great Britain’s attempt to tighten its grip on the American thirteen colonies. Consequently, this form of politics greatly shaped Wright’s way of thinking through experiences in a highly volatile environment. Because he was an African American, Wright went to Blue Spring Elementary school which was a pure black school.
His father struggled to pay his fees because his mother was just a housewife. The social construct of American society was marked by racial segregation (Krawczynksi 3). Children from African American communities were not allowed by natural law to attend the same school as the whites. Racism was evident even at places of worship (Lewandowski 24).
His family would attend church service in Valley Wood church; the only protestant church for African Americans in Chicago. Despite these historical impediments, Wright always demonstrated a high level of cognition. His intelligence seemed to be contradicting the then prevailing misconception that African American children had less intelligence compared to their white counterparts.
He later joined Illinois College, again, an institution for the pure black, and graduated in 1762 when he was 20. He studied sociology. His choice of major was defined by his desire to understand the American society that was at its revolutionary peak. Wright was determined to know how politics influence societal stability and American racial plurality. This desire led him to write many essays on political issues affecting Americans. After graduation, he found a job with a publishing company for African American literature. When Wright turned 37, he became more attracted to the American post-independence democratization dilemma. After the Declaration of Independence in 1776, Americans started reconstructing their neo-nationalism principles (Reich 278). Wright learned that the Declaration of Independence had established radical political principles which indiscriminately contradicted the common principles of the Declaration. One of the principles declared that the Independence of America was entirely based on the declaration that “all men” are equal (Becker 2). The established radicalism greatly influenced how Wright thought and saw the new political page with a fresh sense of curiosity. As a result, he resorted to sensitizing his community, through his writing on political extremism.
This made him be arrested and jailed for 20 years. Wright’s life in prison was marked by a complex network of thoughts, beliefs, and new ways of understanding the prevailing political principles. The major dilemma that the American society faced was whether to use natural law to address its social problems or constitutional provisions established in 1789 (Cavalli 3). While the constitution allowed fair and equal treatment of all Americans as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence document, the Americans of majority race saw this as a contradiction of the natural law of selection. Wright responded to the whites’ support of natural law rather than respecting the constitution with intellectual robustness. He played an integral part in the formation of civil rights groups that fought the racist approach of the American reconstruction. Cavalli presents the American democratic reconstruction and the aspect of racism with a rather biased approach. In the chapter “Theories of Democracy and Types of Government,” I think he deliberately avoids creating a strong link between American democracy and the racism dilemma. However, he recognizes the fact that the democracy of post-independence addressed the political issues from a general point of view without considering the finer details.
Wright’s African American background and the racial biases that he experienced made him vehemently oppose the desire to perpetuate racist socio-political construction. The full-blown segregation wave during his schooling days made him take up the role of the town coordinator of the Chicago Movement for Equal Treatment, a civil rights group that was opposed to the unfair treatment of blacks in almost all components of society. Wight respected and believed in social justice. He saw most of the problems of the African Americans as political constructs whose motives were to perpetuate white supremacy. He based his understanding of social justice on John Locke’s philosophy of political construction. In his theory, Locke supported the establishment of political institutions and fundamental principles of universal equality, race or religion notwithstanding (Richardson 101). Because he believed in John Locke’s philosophy, I think his philosophy on social justice was heavily influenced by the call for universal equality. This made him be at loggerheads with the authority which was, by this time, composed of the whites. At the time of his arrest, his civil rights group was earmarked as an organization that undermined American democratic values. This was the irony of the American socio-political values. Wright later died in 1805 at 65 years due to liver complications.