... That all men are created equal.
"That all men are created equal."
I find this to be a fascinating sentence, don't you?
From the absolute beginning, the United States have built a country upon double-standards and racism. The 'Founding Fathers' was a group of slave-owning white men who decided that they shouldn't have to abide by the laws and decisions handed down by a faceless tyrant from 3000 miles away because nobody asked them their opinion. So what do they decide? They decide to create a government where the only people who have any power are white male landowners, and they built this government on the rotting carcasses of the Indians, Blacks, and British who stood in their way. What's worse is how they went about it - they made grand gestures and impassioned speeches about 'Freedom'. "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.." The Declaration of Independence is drafted in order to try to justify the treason that was being committed (refusing to accept the rule of law from the Crown of England) by making the argument that 'all men are created equal'! However, the MOMENT that Independence is won and the Founding Fathers begin to decide how they will run their new Government, the promises made in the Declaration of Independence are quietly and quickly forgotten. They used Equal Rights as the 'Selling Point' for getting everyone on board for rebellion against the English Crown, and then once they won the Revolution, these same Equal Rights would be conveniently hidden under a stack of rocks. You could almost say that the Declaration of Independence was the first 'Campaign Promise' made on American soil (and, therefore, the first to be broken). The Constitution of the United States is then created as the structure and foundation of the newly born United States Government.
It is 2 years before any Americans are actually granted any of the 'rights' that the Declaration of Independence had promised 'All men are granted by their Creator' - apparently the 'self-evident' truths needed a little clarification, and it is decided that the brand spanking new Constitution already needs a little work - the first 10 Amendments are introduced and collectively called the 'Bill of Rights'. I guess the 'Creator' which has the power to grant 'unalienable rights' must have been the United States Government.
Apparently, the 'Powers' that are granted to the United States Government in the Constitution are so confusing and misunderstood, that the 10th Amendment has to be drafted and ratified, which LITERALLY declares that ANY power that the government has not been specifically granted, has not been specifically granted. The Founding Fathers spend years and years discussing, deciding, and painstakingly specifying all of the exact wording for the specific powers that the Federal Government would be allowed to have, and the wordsmiths and the lawyers spend countless hours writing and rewriting the articles to make absolutely sure that there is no room for misunderstanding. After carefully reading and re-reading what must have been stacks and stacks of legal papers, I guess someone must have asked "But we still get to do whatever we want, right?".
Now, at some point, somebody decided that maybe Slavery isn't the BEST way to express the 'equality' that we're all supposed to share. What is the result? "Our bad" - the 13th Amendment declares Slavery illegal and abolishes all involuntary human servitude. One thing, though - the Government doesn't bother to enforce this 'Equal Rights' measure, and Slavery continues for many Blacks (and others) in America for a long time to come. The Amendment does not, however, make ALL Slavery illegal - the Government is still allowed to own slaves as 'Punishment for crimes". I guess Slavery is only morally wrong sometimes.
While Slavery was abolished in 1865, the United States Government doesn't officially recognize Black People as 'human beings' until 1866. Three years later, these newly-appointed 'human beings' are 'granted' the right to vote (because the 'right' to vote was apparently excluded from 'Equal Rights') by the 15th Amendment (Whatever happened to those 'self-evident' rights?). Even with this legal and binding admission of guilt by the all-white United States Government, it would be 95 years before Blacks are actually allowed to exercise these rights.
The Civil Rights Act of 1866 is enacted which declares that everyone born in the United States is an American Citizen, "without regard to race, color, or previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude". However, apparently nobody notices these sudden new rights, because in 1868 the 14th Amendment is enacted in order to protect the rights of white Males to vote, which implies that 'white males rights' must have been in mortal danger, a circumstance that I tend to find highly suspect. To confuse matters even further, it also declares that anyone born in the United States is considered an American Citizen (does duplication of a law mean that you really, really mean it?).
So now, by 1870 we have legally declared to the entire nation that everyone has the exact same 'self-evident' rights as everyone else. By 'everyone', of course, they mean 'white males'. Blacks, Indians and Women are actively and aggressively prevented from exercising these 'rights' by contradictory laws, corrupt Government officials, and continued local racist and discriminatory policies. Of course, the 12th Amendment ratified in 1804 effectively obsoletes voting rights anyway due to the Electoral College system, so any and all 'Voting Rights' movements from this point on are, effectively, meaningless.
In 1920, the United States Government finally deigns to add one more group to the accepted list of 'human beings' who have 'inalienable rights' - Women are 'granted' the right to vote by the 19th Amendment. "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." This would imply that, until now, the government has legally and rightfully had the power to 'deny or abridge the right of citizens of the United States to vote on account of sex'. Of course, the existing Constitution and its Amendments grant NO SUCH POWER, and the 10th Amendment specifically PROHIBITS the Federal Government from exercising powers that had not been granted it, but I guess people must still have been confused by the explicitly written and specifically-granted powers.
So, to summarize our history up to this point, white male British Settlers tell the Colonists that we are all equals, and they declare war on the 'tyrannical British Crown'. The United States Government is created and granted very limited and specific powers, and the Government declares that we are all equals. Elections and voting are taken from the hands of the Citizens and placed in the Electoral College, and the Government declares that we are all equals. Slavery is abolished (well, not really), and the Government declares that we are all equals. Blacks are elevated to 'human being' status, and the Government declares that we are all equals. Blacks aren't satisfied with freedom and 'equal rights' and they demand the right to vote as citizens of the United States. The Government declares that we are all equals. The Constitution is amended (for the 19th time) to elevate Women to an equal status with Men, and everyone is told that we are all equals.
Blacks, almost a hundred years after being granted 'equal rights', are finally allowed to vote, drink from water fountains, and ride in the front seats of buses. The Government declares that we are all equals.
A note - I find it extremely frustrating that the 18th Amendment, the Prohibition of Alcohol, was on the books before women were even allowed to vote - It was more important to the US to demonize one of the oldest food products in the history of the world than it was to extend our 'unalienable equal rights' to women.