Equality Is the Center of Society Essay

Equality Is the Center of Society Essay

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People of the Revolutionary generation frequently spoke of equality and how the concept related to their own lives. Noah Webster stated that “equality… is the very soul of a republic” (Webster) and this thought was echoed by many of his contemporaries, but their statements were not in favor of full equality. When most people of the Revolutionary generation spoke in support of equality they spoke about equality for the group they belonged to, not full equality for all people in all ways. They partially agreed with Webster’s statement, but this disjointed approach may have slowed the progress of reforms such as abolition and equal suffrage.
The rights of women before the law began to be discussed after the publication of the Declaration of Independence. Abigail Adams, wife of America’s second president John Adams, often wrote to her husband asking him to consider elevating women’s status so that they were equal to men (First Lady Biography: Abigail Adams). In a letter to her husband dated March 31, 1776 Adams wrote that she hoped “…you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them then your ancestors.” In the same letter she also states that all men are “Naturally Tyrannical” (Adams, Document 9), a statement that makes it easy to understand why she would want equal rights for women. In a letter dated May 7, 1776 she continues these points, showing that while the Second Continental Congress was demanding freedom from England the members wanted to keep “absolute power over Wives” (Adams, Document 12). In both of these letters Mrs. Adams states that just as husbands are declaring a rebellion against England they may inspire their wives to declare rebellion against the idea of husbands as masters (Ada...

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...ural and Inalienable Right to Freedom”: Slaves’ Petition for Freedom to the Massachusetts Legislature, 1777. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 5th Series, III (Boston, 1877). Accessed via History Matters, http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/6237/ (accessed March 22, 2014)
“Observations on the Slaves and the Indentured Servants, inlisted in the Army, and in the Navy of the United States.” http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=AntSlav.sgm&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public&part=1&division=div1 (accessed March 22, 2014)

Webster, Noah. “An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution,” October 10, 1787, The Founders Constitution, Volume 1, Chapter 16, Document 17, The University of Chicago Press, http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch16s17.html (accessed March 22, 2014)

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