not at bottom

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gil12345

Senior Member
chinese
Hi there,

"Resolved, That the principle of freedom is one principle, and not a collection of many different and unrelated principles; that there is not at bottom one principle of freedom of conscience as in Protestantism, and another principle of freedom from slavery as in Abolitionism, another of freedom of locomotion as in our dispensing in America with the passport system of Europe, another of the freedom of the press as in Great Britain and America, and still another of social freedom at large;..."

Gifts of Speech - Victoria C. Woodhull (1871)

For the sentence with the underlined part, does it mean that "one principle of freedom of conscience as in Protestantism" should be ranked on the top, or considered as the most valuable? I am a little confused with the phrase "not at bottom."

Thanks

Gil
 
  • The Lord of Gluttony

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    According to Merriam Webster Learner's Dictionary,

    • "at bottom" is just a phrase and has nothing to do with the lowest part, point, or level of "something".
    • it means "in reality" or "really".
    For example:
    "The song is, at bottom [=in truth], a lullaby."
    "He is very shy, at bottom."
    Source: Bottom - Definition for English-Language Learners from Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

    So, "that there is not at bottom one principle of freedom of conscience as in Protestantism" means "that there is not really [=at bottom] one principle of freedom of conscience as in Protestantism".

    However, I am not a native speaker and my assessment can be wrong. Let's wait to see what native speakers will say about this.
     

    gil12345

    Senior Member
    chinese
    According to Merriam Webster Learner's Dictionary,

    • "at bottom" is just a phrase and has nothing to do with the lowest part, point, or level of "something".
    • it means "in reality" or "really".
    For example:
    "The song is, at bottom [=in truth], a lullaby."
    "He is very shy, at bottom."
    Source: Bottom - Definition for English-Language Learners from Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

    So, "that there is not at bottom one principle of freedom of conscience as in Protestantism" means "that there is not really [=at bottom] one principle of freedom of conscience as in Protestantism".

    However, I am not a native speaker and my assessment can be wrong. Let's wait to see what native speakers will say about this.
    Thanks, anyway. At bottom, I did not know what you know. :)
     
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