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I think the authors of that notable instrument intended to include all men, but they did not intend to declare all men equal in all respects. They did not mean to say all were equal in color, size, intellect, moral developments, or social capacity. They defined with tolerable distinctness, in what respects they did consider all men created equal-equal in "certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." This they said, and this meant. They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth, that all were then actually enjoying that equality, nor yet, that they were about to confer it immediately upon them. In fact they had no power to confer such a boon. They meant simply to declare the right, so that the enforcement of it might follow as fast as circumstances should permit. They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society, which should be familiar to all, and revered by all; constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people of all colors everywhere. The assertion that "all men are created equal" was of no practical use in effecting our separation from Great Britain; and it was placed in the Declaration, nor for that, but for future use. Its authors meant it to be, thank God, it is now proving itself, a stumbling block to those who in after times might seek to turn a free people back into the hateful paths of despotism. They knew the proneness of prosperity to breed tyrants, and they meant when such should re-appear in this fair land and commence their vocation they should find left for them at least one hard nut to crack. I have now briefly expressed my view of the meaning and objects of that part of the Declaration of Independence which declares that "all men are created equal". Abraham Lincoln

Tags:

I

think

the

authors

of

that

notable

instrument

intended

to

include

all

men



but

they

did

not

intend

to

declare

all

men

equal

in

all

respects



They

did

not

mean

to

say

all

were

equal

in

color



size



intellect



moral

developments



or

social

capacity



They

defined

with

tolerable

distinctness



in

what

respects

they

did

consider

all

men

created

equal

equal

in

"certain

inalienable

rights



among

which

are

life



liberty



and

the

pursuit

of

happiness

"

This

they

said



and

this

meant



They

did

not

mean

to

assert

the

obvious

untruth



that

all

were

then

actually

enjoying

that

equality



nor

yet



that

they

were

about

to

confer

it

immediately

upon

them



In

fact

they

had

no

power

to

confer

such

a

boon



They

meant

simply

to

declare

the

right



so

that

the

enforcement

of

it

might

follow

as

fast

as

circumstances

should

permit



They

meant

to

set

up

a

standard

maxim

for

free

society



which

should

be

familiar

to

all



and

revered

by

all



constantly

looked

to



constantly

labored

for



and

even

though

never

perfectly

attained



constantly

approximated



and

thereby

constantly

spreading

and

deepening

its

influence



and

augmenting

the

happiness

and

value

of

life

to

all

people

of

all

colors

everywhere



The

assertion

that

"all

men

are

created

equal"

was

of

no

practical

use

in

effecting

our

separation

from

Great

Britain



and

it

was

placed

in

the

Declaration



nor

for

that



but

for

future

use



Its

authors

meant

it

to

be



thank

God



it

is

now

proving

itself



a

stumbling

block

to

those

who

in

after

times

might

seek

to

turn

a

free

people

back

into

the

hateful

paths

of

despotism



They

knew

the

proneness

of

prosperity

to

breed

tyrants



and

they

meant

when

such

should

re

appear

in

this

fair

land

and

commence

their

vocation

they

should

find

left

for

them

at

least

one

hard

nut

to

crack



I

have

now

briefly

expressed

my

view

of

the

meaning

and

objects

of

that

part

of

the

Declaration

of

Independence

which

declares

that

"all

men

are

created

equal"



Abraham

Lincoln



 Good Luck!