Untitled Essay Research Paper All Men Created

Untitled Essay, Research Paper

All Men Created Equal

America has undergone incredible hardships as a nation. No issue has had

more impact on the development of the American definition of freedom than

the issue of slavery. Did the Constitution specify which men were created

equal? Surprisingly enough the phrase “all men are created equal with certain

inalienable rights” did not mean what it does today. The nation was divided

on the issue of slavery and the rights of the black man in its early stages

as a growing republic. Abraham Lincoln was a brave pioneer who dared to rub

his hand against the grain of slavery bringing the original ideals of

America’s founders to a new light. He was a man who felt he was witnessing

a slow decay in the foundation of the American principles. His views were

not met with unanimous applause from the American people. He battled against

an equally strong constituency – the slave owner’s and their

presidential candidate, Judge Douglas. Abraham’s grounds for the abolition

of slavery were based on the words that were scripted in the Declaration

of Independence and the meaning of those words as they related to American

citizens and the celebration of the 4th of July.

Many American’s argued that the Negroes were not entitled to the same

rights because they were not legally citizens of the United States of America.

This issue was dealt with in the ruling of the Dredd Scott case. Lincoln

points out that the ruling of the case was based on historical fact that

was wrongly assumed. Judge Taney, who presided over the case stated that

“Negroes were no part of the people who made, or for whom was made, the

Declaration of Independence, or the Constitution of the United States.” This

statement was later refuted by Judge Curtis who shows that “in five of the

then thirteen states…free negroes were voters, and, in proportion to

their numbers, had the same part in making the Constitution that the white

people had.” The fact that Negroes were citizens who participated in the

framing of the Constitution gave them the same freedoms as the white men

who helped shape the American ideals classifying the Negro as a “citizen.”

The strongest persuasion that Abraham could have possibly given the American

people were the words that the Declaration of Independence so powerfully

spoke. Lincoln fully understood the phrase “all men were created equal” as

pertaining to the entire human family. He explained:

“[they] intended to include all men, but they did not

intend to declare all men equal in all respects. They

did not mean to say all were equal in color, size,

intellect, moral developments, or social capacity.”

This statement was perfectly logical. The Declaration goes on to state that

the “inalienable rights” that human beings have are the rights to “life,

liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This was the idea which Abraham believed

was the “standard maxim for free society.” Abraham even used a parallel from

the Bible. “’As your Father in Heaven is perfect, be ye also

perfect.’” This quote from Matthew 5:48 was used to illustrate that

God had set an impossible goal for us to attain, and in the same way the

framers of the Constitution and writers of the Declaration of Independence

gave mankind an endeavor to give equality to all mankind. Douglas argued

that the writers only meant to give the British citizens in America equal

rights to the British citizens then residing in Great Britain. Douglas’

argument for this hypothesis was:

“’they [the writers] referred to the white race alone,

and not to the African, when they declared all men

to have been created equal’”

It was terribly wrong because ‘white’ did not necessarily mean

British. Where did this statement leave white immigrants from Germany and

France who were not necessarily ‘British’? The Declaration was

not meant as a mere statement of liberation from Britain but as the basis

of a government that would uphold the belief that the people deserved to

be free from a King or other form of rule which infringed on those rights

that mankind deserves.

In fact, what worth was the Declaration eighty years after it was written

if it’s only purpose was as statement of independence from Great Britain?

What’s more, the Declaration of Independence would have given no freedoms

to men residing in America if it had read, as Douglas implied, “’We

hold these truths to be self-evident that all British subjects who were on

this continent eighty-one years ago, were created equal to all British subjects

born and then residing in Great Britain.’” To the citizen of the United

States, the Fourth of July would have come to mean absolutely nothing if

freedom was granted to an exclusive group of people.

Though Americans were divided on the issue of Negro rights and their right

to citizenship, an almost unanimous fear was the possibility of an increase

in interracial marriages following the abolition of slavery. Abraham agreed

with the separation of the races when it came to mixed blood. He gave Americans

numerical statistics which showed that interracial marriages were significantly

less within free states. The end of slavery (and thus separation of whites

and blacks) “is the only perfect preventive of amalgamation.” The reasoning

was based on the frequency of mulatto births arising from slaves and their

masters in comparison to the number of mulatto births that were among free

states. The mixing of the blood was occurring because the Negroes and whites

were in forced contact. The elimination of an almost universal fear was yet

another argument for the separation of the races.

Although he was not a ‘modern day’ civil right’s activist,

Lincoln’s logic eventually led to the abolition of slavery, tragically

driving the nation into a state of civil war. However, the American ideals

which he embraced have made their way into our modern societies standards

leading to civil right’s programs which are constantly being reformed.

Immigrants, of all nationalities and colors now look to America as a symbol

of great ideals. Abraham said more prophetically than he could imagine that

the American ideals of freedom should be “constantly spreading and deepening

its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all peoples

of all colors everywhere.” As a result of his push for the preservation of

the American ideal of freedom, slavery no longer exists and is even considered

unconstitutional on the grounds that it is in direct contradiction with the

conception that “all men are created equal.”


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