Mr. Balentine wrote that an American trait is the desire to be free (“Do you still desire freedom?”, July 2). He indicates our rights are “enshrined in our Bill of Rights.” He also writes that “young people have a favorable view of socialism and communism” and “the founding of America is all about ensuring the rights of the individual.” There are some problems with his statements.

I believe what Mr. Balentine refers to as “socialism” are ideas such as health care for all citizens, child care for working families and combating climate change to protect the planet. These are ideas for the common good, which is also one of the founding principles.

The rights in the Bill of Rights were for white males. The enslaved Black people had no rights. The founders created an electoral college system that counted Black people as three-fifths of a human being so the southern states could have more electoral power.

Women had few individual rights. They couldn’t vote, own property nor have other rights attributed to white males.

According to a July 5 column in the Sun Journal by Andrew Wehrman of the Washington Post, the city of Boston was shut down during a smallpox epidemic for “general inoculation.” This included the closing of businesses. On July 3, 1776, the city was again closed because of smallpox. No governor went to that extreme.

Until the 1960s, Black people did not have the same rights as whites. Until recently much of our population could not marry the people they love.

Even today, many legislatures are trying to limit one of our most basic rights – the right to vote.

Stan Tetenman