Essay about Abraham Lincoln 's Declaration Of Independence

Essay about Abraham Lincoln 's Declaration Of Independence

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In the years leading up to the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln uses the Declaration of Independence as a basis for many of his political arguments. However, when comparing the Declaration of Independence to Lincoln’s Speech on the Kansas-Nebraska Act at Peoria, his first debate with Senator Douglas, his Address at Cooper Institute, and his First Inaugural Address, various discrepancies between the principles of the founding fathers and Lincoln’s interpretation of these principles become apparent. These discrepancies show that Lincoln rejects or misinterprets the revolutionary principles of equality, state sovereignty, and revolution.
A significant principle of the American Revolution is the belief that a legitimate government is founded on the consent of the governed. Equality is a necessary aspect of consent. Equality means that everybody has “certain unalienable Rights, that among these rights are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” (Declaration). Furthermore, each person should be able to pursue these rights. The Declaration of Independence states that it is a governments responsibility to “secure these rights… (deriving its) just (power) from the consent of the governed” (Declaration). The government gains consent by giving its people the ability to cast an equally weighted vote, in accordance with which laws will help them pursue their fundamental rights. Equality is necessary for popular sovereignty to work, because it allows the government to gain consent from its people. Despite their clarity about the foundation of a legitimate government, the founding fathers are unclear about whether they are referring to one sovereign nation or thirteen sovereign states. Nevertheless, the logic of the Declarati...


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...jects the revolutionary principle of the right to revolt against a destructive government in his assertion that the South was not successful in secession, saying that “in legal contemplation, the Union is perpetual, confirmed by the history of the Union itself” (327). However, the mere history of the Union does not and should not guarantee perpetuity. Lincoln refuses the Southern people’s right to secede in response to violation of their fundamental rights, therefore rejecting the revolutionary principle of revolution.
It is clear that Lincoln rejects three main principles of the American Revolution: the ideas of equality and state sovereignty, and the right of a people to throw off a destructive government. Although he misinterprets the revolutionary principles stated in the Declaration of Independence, he has the best intention in mind – to preserve the Union.

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