All Men Created Equal Stephen Douglas Versus Abraham Lincoln

1079 words - 4 pages

All Men Created EqualAmerica 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 notintend to declare all men equal in all respects. Theydid 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...

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