Freedom and equality are great pillars of the United States. We have always valued these pillars ever since the founding of this country, and we have kept them intact with documents, such as the U.S Constitution, Emancipation Proclamation, and Declaration of Independence. While these values are important to American citizens, many view them in different ways. Many U.S citizens have believed that freedom and equality don’t apply to all citizens. With the addition of certain Amendments and documents, American values include freedom and equality for every U.S citizen rather than only certain citizens.
The United States Constitution has been around as long as this country. It has always served to help secure the freedoms of U.S citizens. But did these freedoms always apply to all people in the U.S? No, they didn’t. This goes to show that throughout U.S history, people have had differing views on freedom. While many pro-slavery politicians may have valued the constitution and freedom, they didn’t believe it applied to everybody. It took many years for the United States government to change this by amending the Constitution to outlaw slavery as well as voting rights for all people. It is said in Amendment 13 that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction” (US Const. amend. XIII, sec. 1). The Amendment was ratified in 1865, which is around 89 years after the country was founded. This demonstrates that American values have changed overtime to have equality apply to every U.S. citizen.
Freedom was granted for slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation. It was issued on January 1st, 1863 by Abraham Lincoln. Before this document was issued, slavery was widespread, especially in the south. Many people against this document, primarily those who were fighting for the South, didn’t believe that freedom should be granted to everybody. This document paved the path for equality for all U.S citizens in the future. It highlighted two important American values: freedom and equality for all people rather than only some. The document states that “all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free” (Lincoln Sect. 1). This means that slaves in certain states will be free forever. While the Emancipation Proclamation only applied to the seceded states, it was a crucial step in the right direction, and it led to more laws that eventually backed up the American values.
The original purpose of the Declaration of Independence was to announce the creation of a new country, the United States. It is stated that “…all men are created equal” (Jefferson, para. 2). This shows that the United States has always valued equality. However, it wasn’t always applied to everyone as slavery was still legal. Many recognized that this statement should be exercised by all American citizens . This led the Declaration of Independence to serve as one of the bases for this American value that would support equality for all citizens.
While the United States may have established freedom and equality as one of its main core values, American people view them in different ways. Many didn’t believe that these values applied to all citizens. Documents such as the Constitution, Emancipation Proclamation, and the Declaration of Independence showed that these American values apply to every U.S citizen regardless of skin color, gender, religion, etc. Even though the United States values these principles and makes many decisions with them in mind, we still continue to face issues. America is still growing and many people are fighting to maintain these values and improve our justice system.
Jefferson, Thomas. Declaration of Independence. Adams, John. Franklin, Benjamin.
Livingston, Robert R. Sherman, Roger. 1776
Lincoln, Abraham. Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. 1862. Pdf. Retrieved from the
Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/scsm000950/>.
United States Constitution. Art./Amend. XIII, Sec. 1.