Was The Declaration of Independence purer in words than deeds?Submitted by Jake Mellow on Thu, 11/29/2012 - 22:33
''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.''
Today The Declaration of Independence is a beautifully written piece and a statement of intent that everyone should aspire to.
I have noticed a recent trend however to re-edit the piece inserting ''and women'' after the phrase ''that all men are created equal''
At the time of its writing, this wording, even if taken in a universal manner, was a complete contradiction, especially as women were not given the vote until 1920 so were obviously at the time of the founders not considered equal, neither were the slaves that Jefferson owned at the time.
An early example of the women's suffrage movement was Lydia Taft who was allowed to vote in three New England town meetings, beginning in 1756. So there was some kind of precedent.
In the Declaration Jefferson's words did not mean to him we are 'all' including women and slaves 'equal'.
We now of course love to infer this, as they were different times etc. Jefferson could certainly have chosen not to reflect the status quo of the times but unfortunately chose to go along with it, which is not judging him by today's standards but by anyone's standards.
My point is, it is a mistake to blindly hero worship Jefferson or anyone else for that matter. No one is perfect even if their words have purity and resonance.