Liberty, And The Pursuit Of Happiness

2015 Words9 Pages
Equality as a Running Theme in American Thinking American philosophy is littered with differences in opinion, on matters of knowledge, our purposes as humans, and the ways we perceive the world around us. As I examine the works of thinkers like the enlightenment-driven Jefferson, the transcendentalists Emerson and Thoreau, and racially thinking philosophers like DuBois and Douglas, it becomes clear that an important basis of some of our greatest thought in America is the notion that all humans are created equal. Thomas Jefferson, as well as other American enlightenment thinkers at the time, held the belief that “all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their CREATOR, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” (US, 1776) This line from the Declaration of Independence does not make a distinction between any groups of people – it specifies that ALL men have access to these unalienable rights, which proves to be in conflict with the system of enslavement prevalent in America at the time. Jefferson, like Benjamin Franklin, also subscribed to the religious principles of Deism, a faith that believes God created the earth and then stepped back, leaving humans with the ability to think rationally. This was an extremely progressive belief at the time, because it gave followers the freedom to think for themselves about what they thought was logical. It also established a controversial way of thinking – that any
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