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Declaration Of Independence Impact In American Society

2347 words - 9 pages

In 1776, five members assembled to draw up the Declaration of Independence, a document that clearly stated independence from Britain, and listed the colonists’ grievances and natural rights. One of the most controversial components was the following statement: “We hold these truth to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” The concept of equality debated and understood in a variety of ways throughout American history. Equality, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, can be defined as “the quality or state of having the same rights, social status, etc.” Consequently, changes have been sought to obtain rights that were not easily granted. Marginalized members of society have fought to acquire rights, whether human or civil, since they believe that, as citizens, they deserve equality. The trend of change in the name of equality has brought about numerous fundamental and eternal transformations in American society.
Abraham Lincoln’s speech, “The Gettysburg Address”, illustrates how government’s intervention to implement change is required when society does not tolerate and acknowledge equality. On November 19, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln spoke to the nation at Cemetery Hill to commemorate the estimated 50,000 soldiers killed and wounded in July of that year. Although the “Gettysburg Address” was two minutes long and contained only ten sentences, President Lincoln presented his grievances against the raging Civil War. He deemed that it was unacceptable for the Union to allow the Southern states to secede while sustaining that slavery could not remain legal in the United States; “Invoking the Founding Fathers' principle that ‘all men are created equal,’[President Lincoln] called for a stronger resolve ‘that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth’ ” (Grolier Encyclopedia). The President expressed his desire to execute various changes in order to free blacks.
Yet, President Lincoln attempted to transform the nation by responding not with words alone, but also with actions. As Richard A. Katula elucidates, Lincoln authorized equality to African American under military law by allowing blacks to serve in the military. Katula goes on to suggest that, “In an address aimed at saving the Union, Lincoln also presaged equality as a powerful motive in the hierarchy of American motives. The Gettysburg Address is, thus, a significant event for all Americans.” Specifically with African Americans, Lincoln set precedence of equality which resulted in many fundamental changes that has occurred since then. This includes “the desegregation of the military (1948), Brown v. the Board of Education (1954), The Civil Rights Act of 1964, The Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1967, the Higher Educational...

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