The American Ideal of Equality

“Young persons sometimes imagine that the American doctrine of the equality of man refers to equality of condition; and even grown persons, who ought to think more clearly and be more reasonable, sometimes refer to the distinctions of rich and poor in this country as falsifying our political theories. But the truth is, that, in our political theory of equality, it is not at all equality of condition, but equality of rights, that is claimed for man. All men—the doctrine is simply—have an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Even when all are in the full enjoyment of their rights, different men will, of course, attain to very different degrees of advancement in the objects of their desire. Some will be rich and some will be poor; some will be servants and some masters; some will be the employers and some the employed; but, so long as all are equal in respect to their rights, none will complain—or, at least, no classes will complain. There will, of course, be here and there disappointed and discontented individuals, but their discontent will not spread. It is only by the long-continued and oppressive infringement of the natural rights of large masses of men that the way is prepared for revolts and insurrections."

-from Richard II by Jacob Abbot, pgs. 230-231

Comments

D.C. Salmon said…
Nice! This is a great quote that really helps me to clearly see the difference between the unfair equality of the Occupy Wall-Streeters and the intended equality set out by the founding fathers. Thanks for posting!
Wayne Brown said…
That's a wonderful quote!
Wayne Brown said…
The type of equality being paraded around the ring at the moment in today's culture is more homogeneity than equality. This type of "equality" is seen on the planet of Camazotz in Madeline l'Engle's "A Wrinkle in TIme." I think we can all agree that this is an undesirable type, but the progressive modern doesn't seem to have the foresight to realize this...