Freedom and Equality, two resounding American values that are important throughout many aspects of American History. These beliefs still affect Americans now in the issues that we face today. However, the ideas of freedom and equality have been around for almost as long as this country. Different texts such as The Gettysburg Address, The Declaration of Independence, and The Articles of Confederation show that Freedom and Equality have been important throughout history, and have been interpreted in many different ways. This reflects our society today because people interpret Freedom and Equality differently, which is apparent by the current issues we have today.

In the Declaration of Independence, these ideas of Freedom and Equality are used to justify the colonists breaking away from Britain. At the beginning of this document, the Declaration says that “We hold these truths 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” (Jefferson, para 2). The colonists felt that they were being denied these unalienable rights that they felt should be automatically given to them. Freedom and Equality were among these unalienable rights, that they felt were being denied to them, so the people writing this document wanted to leave the British monarchy in hopes of achieving Freedom and Equality. This document was written for the purpose of achieving that by breaking away from Britain. If the framers didn’t believe in Freedom and Equality, they wouldn’t have gone to the effort to write this huge declaration. Even then, these values were important, and they still are important today.

In the Articles of Confederation, Freedom and Equality are used as goals for the country, but more for the individual state as well. This is established in the Second Article which reads “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled” (Dickinson art 2).  Freedom and Equality are valued in this quote but on a more independent level. This is because, when these articles were written, the people writing them were afraid of a strong central government taking over the US and having too much power. As a result, this made the writers of the Articles of Confederation focus on Freedom and Equality, but at a more individual level. This made the states have more power to be able to govern themselves. The writers put an emphasis on these values because they are what prompted America to break away from the colonies in the first place, and what America strives, and is continually striving for. Even though this form of government ultimately ended up failing, it shows that Freedom and Equality are common American values, used in many different ways.

The Gettysburg Address uses Freedom and Equality when talking about the issue of slavery. In this speech, Lincoln says at the end “that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, 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” (Lincoln, para 3). In the beginning of this quote, Lincoln wants the ones who died in the battle of Gettysburg to not have died in vain. He wants something good to come out of this terrible loss, wanting a government “by the people, for the people” (Lincoln para 3). When he says this, he means all people, including the slaves at that time. Lincoln used this speech to show that he wanted a country of freedom and equality for everyone, no matter where you were from or what skin color you were. This speech Lincoln used, was used to justify his claim that slavery was wrong, and that freedom and equality should be for all the people of America.

All of these documents show that Freedom and Equality were interpreted in many different ways. These documents were all written at different times, yet they all have those common beliefs of Freedom and Equality, showing that these values have stayed important throughout the course of history. Freedom and Equality are also important in today’s society. There are many issues in America that divide us as a nation, that have two or many sides to them. Most or nearly all of these sides, use Freedom and Equality to justify their stance on these issues. This is interesting because it shows how these values are interpreted and used in many different ways. One could say, that these values are being used to divide us. However, if these values could be used to unite us, it would be safe to assume that great things would happen.

 

Works Cited:

Dickinson, John. Articles of Confederation. Bartlett, Josiah. 1781

Jefferson, Thomas. Declaration of Independence. Adams, John. Franklin, Benjamin.

        Livingston, Robert R. Sherman, Roger. 1776

Lincoln, Abraham. Gettysburg Address. 1863

 

Photo by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML

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CC BY-SA 4.0 Freedom and Equality Throughout History by Sophia is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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6 Comments
  1. mack and jenna 6 months ago

    Dear Sophia,

    After reading your article about freedom and equality throughout history, we fully agree with you that freedom and equality is still not a big concern in the United States. You mentioned all the important american documents throughout your article like “The Declaration of Independence,” “The Articles of confederation” and “The Gettysburg Address.” All of these important documents talk about the United States wanting to be free and equal but still today not everyone is treated equal and we completely agree with that statement. We found that the there is somewhat of freedom and equality in the world because there are not slaves anymore and people can speak their mind on any topic that they want but it is not how all of the historical documents wanted freedom and equality to be . So we can agree with you about your statement in the article about how you want more or better shown freedom and equality. We found that in the declaration it states. The prevailing ideas entertained by [Jefferson] and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old Constitution were, that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally and politically… Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition.” It says that all blacks are equal to white man but that is not true today or back then because of the color of their skin. So we are glad you used these documents in your article because they might end slavery and say that all men are created equal but that is still not true today. People are shamed for there race, sexulality or what they like. Since freedom and equality are still not a big part of the united States, what do you think we could do to change it?

    Sincerely,
    Jenna and Mack

  2. Breanna and Julianne 6 months ago

    Dear Sophia,

    After reading your post “Freedom and Equality Throughout History” our group agreed with your claim that freedom and equality are two important things. You made a great claim when talking about ‘Declaration of Independence’ because the quote you chose to put in states “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” It was also important to put in the quote from the ‘Articles of Confederation’ that says “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in congress assembled.” This was a good sentence to put in because it’s directly saying that each state has a right to their own freedom and independence. Then when we did some of our own research we found some more reasons that everyone should have the rights to their own freedom. Back in the day, women and slaves were not allowed to vote. The same goes for the people who are part of the LGBTQ comunity because people didn’t except that they were different. There was also the division between African Americans and whites because people believed that whites were a superior race. LGBTQ people often get arrested because they want to peacefully walk around with signs to show people that being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender doesn’t mean that you have to be an outsider. Also, African Americans fought in the Civil War on the Union’s side which was against slavery. The Confederate states came back to join the Union after surrendering. However The southern states made laws that said that if you were black you couldn’t vote, you had to be in bed by a certain time and other stuff that was not at all fair. In Lincoln’s ‘Gettysburg Address’, he states that “… 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 this earth.” This is important because he is stating that all people are and were created equal and that they should have the same freedoms and rights as everyone else. After reading your article we agree because people should have the same rights even if they are different or believe in different things.

    Sincerely, Breanna & Julianne

    Work Cited

    https://www.indexoncensorship.org/2016/04/free-speech-important/

    http://voicesofdemocracy.umd.edu/lincoln-gettysburg-address-speech-text/

    https://www.youthvoices.live/2017/10/03/freedom-and-equality-throughout-history/

  3. Giana 6 months ago

    Dear Sophia,
    After reading your post, I agree that freedom and equality are two big aspects of the american culture and they still affect how people react to issues that we face today. You made many excellent points but one that stuck out to me was your facts about the Gettysburg Address and your quote from Lincoln which was “that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people by the people for the people shall not perish from this earth”.This is important to me because most of my family has fought in world war two and some of them did not come back home and to think about how they fought for the freedoms I have today move me. I would agree with this because your article talks about how freedom and equality have changed over the years. It is important because it highlights that people have been fighting for freedom and equality.According to my research, during the civil rights movement freedom and equality were brought up and lot. Like in Dr. Martin Luther King JR speech he says that, “I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice.” This shows that we as american people we have been fighting for freedom and equality whether it is about the color of our skin or about how much we get paid but we have been fighting for so long. Some more evidence is freedom and equality are part of the Emancipation Proclamation that when the slaves were freed that they are given the same rights as a free man. All so during the Women’s Suffrage movement for that right that men have. In 1920 the government passed the 19th amendment This victory is considered the most significant achievement of women in the Progressive Era. It was the single largest extension of democratic voting rights in our nation’s history, and it was achieved peacefully, through democratic processes. Some people might argue that this focuses on the past and not the present. Some examples of this happening today is the Hands Up Don’t Shoot Movement that has been going across the country. It all started in Chicago when a African American was killed by a cop. All so all of the walkouts from teachers not being paid enough. All in all it is true that freedom and equality are a big part of the american lifestyle.

    Thanks For Your Time

    Giana

    Works Cited
    History.com Staff. “Civil Rights Movement.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009, http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/civil-rights-movement.
    History.com Staff. “Emancipation Proclamation.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009, http://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/emancipation-proclamation.
    kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/do+cuments/i-have-dream-address-delivered-march-washington-jobs-and-freedom.
    Lee, Michelle Ye Hee. “’Hands up, Don’t Shoot’ Did Not Happen in Ferguson.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 19 Mar. 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/03/19/hands-up-dont-shoot-did-not-happen-in-ferguson/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.b1d28a668892.
    Turner, Cory. “Walkouts And Teacher Pay: How Did We Get Here?” NPR, NPR, 11 Apr. 2018, http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2018/04/11/600832090/walkouts-and-teacher-pay-how-did-we-get-here.
    “The Woman Suffrage Movement.” National Women’s History Museum, http://www.nwhm.org/resources/general/woman-suffrage-movement.
    YouTube. “’Hands up, Don’t Shoot’: Day 3 of Ferguson Rallies.” Chicagotribune.com, Chicago Tribune, 29 Nov. 2014, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/82129942-157.html.

  4. […] Freedom and Equality Throughout History […]

  5. Sovann 1 year ago

    Hi Sophia,
    Amazing piece, you really supported each of your points well! One thing your piece brought to mind was how freedom and equality work in the present because most of your piece focuses on the past. Equality is still quite a big topic today. Gay, transgender, black, and other groups want equal rights. The right to carry and to say what you want even if it is demeaning to others are big freedom topics. America gives people the power to peacefully protest their freedom and equality.

    • Author
      Sophia 1 year ago

      Thank you Sovann!
      I appreciate how you brought the present into focus even more. Freedom and Equality are huge topics today and many still need to fight for their rights. Thank you so much for your comment!

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