A Principle of The Traditional American Philosophy
7. Equal, by God's Gift, In Sight of God and Law
". . . all men are created equal . . ." (Declaration of Independence)
1. The traditional American philosophy teaches that all men are created equal, made equal at birth by their Creator, but equal only in the sight of God and Law.
Basic Definition of Equality
2. This philosophy asserts that equality in the sight of God is in the religious realm and means being equal spiritually, while equality in the sight of Law means being entitled to equal legal justice and having the right to be considered and treated as equal in Freedom from Government-over-Man. Equal legal justice means equal treatment under equal laws--that is, just laws expressive of "just powers" (to quote the term used in the Declaration of Independence) designed to make and keep secure the equal rights of all Individuals and, therefore, compatible with Natural Law (God's Law) on which Man's God-given, unalienable rights are based. It requires respect by government for such equal rights of all Individuals. Also included, of course, is equality as to The Individual's duties underlying Individual Liberty-Responsibility, especially the duty to respect the equal rights of others.
The Ideal of Equality in 1776 - in the Face of Inherited Slavery System
3. This word equal, according to the American philosophy as defined in the Declaration of Independence, means equal in freedom of The Individual. This bars slavery of Man to Man. This truly expressed the American ideal and goal in 1776, despite the laws then making slavery legal in America as the result of an ancient system inherited from the Old World--fostered by the slave trade which was supported by the king of England despite protests of the Colonies, as noted in Jefferson's "Rights of British America" (1774) and in his first draft of the Declaration of Independence. At the first opportunity to act in this regard, in adopting the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, the Congress prohibited slavery from being practiced in the Northwest Territory. The fact that slavery had to be faced as an existing condition in 1776, and the difficulty and slowness of its ultimate abolition, did not impair the spiritual integrity of the 1776 proclamation of the ideal and goal of the American philosophy in these words of the Declaration of Independence: "all men are created equal"--in the sight of God and Law. By 1776, a number of slave-owning leaders--notably Washington, Jefferson, and George Mason--were deeply concerned about the need and desirability of abolishing slavery (through appropriate government action). It was generally recognized that the inherited institution of slavery was violative of the principle of Natural Rights and therefore of the American philosophy as proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence. To repeat, the then-existing fact of slavery in America did not lessen the value, or impair the integrity or validity, of the Declaration's definition and proclamation of The American Ideal--the hope and goal of the American philosophy--with which slavery was inconsistent. Indeed, this fact magnified the nobility of this Ideal's proclamation.
Equality in Freedom of Opportunity for Self-Development
4. The Declaration's pronouncement assured a sound philosophical basis for equality in freedom of opportunity--Freedom from Government-over-Man--to realize to the full the Individual's own highest potential in all aspects of life. This involves maximum freedom of choice. This is always subject to observance of the duties of Individual Liberty-Responsibility under constitutionally limited government, including the duty to respect the equal rights of others.
Equality in Freedom from Government-over-Man in the Economic Realm
5. In the economic realm also, this word "equal," as used in the Declaration of Independence, means only equal in freedom of opportunity. That is, freedom from the Government-over-Man type of restrictions upon The Individual's opportunity to strive for material security and advancement through his own self-reliant efforts, as he plans and manages his own life and work and the economic security of himself and his dependents. It means equal in freedom from those things which add up to Government-over-Man in general.
Individual Self-reliance and Group Cooperation Constitute the Sound American Formula
6. The American philosophy makes the question of economic security the responsibility of The Individual and of groups of Individuals. Examples will be clarifying. First and foremost are the family and, further, religious groups as well as fraternal groups--all acting voluntarily. Self-reliance of The Individual is the key here, whether acting singly or cooperatively with other Individuals.
Public "Aid" for the Genuinely Needy Must Be on Lowest Possible Governmental Level
7. Any locality's necessity to provide public aid for the relatively few persons who are helplessly and genuinely needy, judged by the "means" test (to determine the need of government aid to live), must be met on the lowest possible governmental level, under the traditional American philosophy and system of constitutionally limited government and decentralized power. This is according to the controlling intent of those who framed and adopted the Constitution and each of its amendments, under which the Federal government is prohibited from performing this task either directly, or indirectly through financial aid to State or local governments or to Individuals. (See also Pars. 8-10 of Principle 5 and Pars. 4-5 of Principle 11.) This is partly because Federal aid inescapably results in time in Federal control, either directly or indirectly--sometimes by subtle means. This decentralized power of government to provide public aid to the genuinely needy assures maximum safeguards against fraud, waste, political manipulation, and other adverse results in the administration of such activity. This decentralization saves money for the people as taxpayers whose funds pay the bill, in last analysis, no matter which government does the taxing for this purpose; and, at the same time, best results are obtained for all concerned, including the needy.
Equality as to Non-infringement by Other Individuals
8. The American philosophy also teaches equality in freedom of enjoyment of The Individual's unalienable rights, therefore equality in freedom from infringement of those rights by other Individuals (who would, by any such infringement, trespass beyond the limits of their own equal rights)--freedom in strict conformity with the Constitution, as amended. This applies whether any would-be infringers act as separate Individuals, or in groups, or in formal organizations such as associations of men in the economic realm - for instance, employers' associations, or employees' organizations. If any such violation of any Individual's unalienable rights, or the supporting rights, be perpetuated with the connivance of government--by its sin of omission or commission, by its sanction through either threat or actual use of force, or by enacted law--the offense is all the more anti-moral, anti-Constitution and anti-American. No allegedly good end can justify use of evil means such as this, according to the American philosophy's code of ethics and the underlying moral code.
Equality of Right to Be Let Alone
9. The ideals and principles, the spirit and lofty vision, of traditional America give highest priority to the concept of the inviolability of each Individual's right to full liberty--including complete freedom of each Individual's right to full liberty--including complete freedom of choice--in his own private life and in his choice of associates in all aspects of life. This is limited only by the requirements of the duty aspect of Individual Liberty-Responsibility: due respect for the equal rights of others and for just laws (per Par. 2 above). This refers, for example, to laws such as criminal laws against a conspiracy to commit murder, or a conspiracy designed to subvert all American values and governments such as the Kremlin-controlled Communist ("Party") conspiracy in America--involving properly punishable guilt by association of persons (not of ideas) for an evil and justly forbidden purpose, the guilt being evidenced basically by the overt act of joining the conspiracy. Also included is the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men--the right of The Individual to be let alone by government. In America, this means to be let alone in the enjoyment of his unalienable rights, under the protection of the safeguards provided by the Constitution. This right to be let alone applies equally against infringement of The Individual's privacy in this regard by other Individuals, whether acting singly, in groups, or in organizations. This right to be let alone is co-extensive with, and substantially overlaps, the right to freedom of choice: the right to do as one pleases subject only to the above-mentioned duty aspect of Individual Liberty-Responsibility. The anti-morality of the evil precept that the end justifies the means--that an allegedly good end justifies resort to evil means to accomplish it--is most offensive in the eyes of the American philosophy's moral code stemming from the fundamental principle of Man's creation and endowment with rights from God. An example is resort to this evil precept in attempted justification of infringement of The Individual's above mentioned right to freedom of choice of associates in every realm of private life--the economic, social, religious and community in general; and all the more so when any violation of the Constitution is also involved in any such infringement. This anti-morality is compounded in evil implication if any government coercion is involved; which is true partly because government coercion (always backed by force, or the threat of force), so used, can later be used in reverse to compel disassociation--also violative of The Individual's freedom of choice.
Examples of What "Equality" Does Not Mean
10. To understand the meaning of the word "equal" more clearly and precisely, mention of what it does not mean is needed. For example, it does not mean equal opportunity, much less government-provided equal opportunity--but means equal freedom of opportunity as a part of Freedom from Government-over-Man. It does not mean being equal with regard to government-provided security (even if any such phantom goal for all the people were feasible for a long period without their abject slavery to government under a system of prison-type security). Nor does it mean being equal as to anything whatever to be provided by government, except equal legal justice under equally applied laws--the above-mentioned just laws. It certainly does not mean equality in servitude to government in any degree, however disguised--for example as tax-slaves subjected to the tyranny of oppressive, even confiscatory, taxes used for instance by usurpers to buy popular support for activities in furtherance of their usurpations in defiance of the Constitution's limits on their powers.
11. The word "equal" in the Declaration of Independence assuredly does not mean being born equal in the sense of being identical--either mentally, or physically, or in intelligence, or in capabilities, or in character, or in virtues, or in potential in regard to accomplishments or attainments, or in any of the various other ways in which men differ by nature's dispensation, from birth to death. It does not mean being equal with regard to any supposed right to material possessions, or to any claimed right to government-provided economic assistance, support, or security.
Equality in Private Life Excluded
12. As a final example, the word "equal" does not mean any kind or degree of government-provided, much less government-forced, equality in private life, such as social equality. Such a meaning would be flagrantly in violation of the spirit of the Declaration of Independence as well as of the spirit and letter of the Constitution, when construed in keeping with the original and always-controlling intent of those who framed and adopted the initial instrument and each of its amendments. Any idea of government-forced equality in Man's private life, social or otherwise--whether the forcing be done by "police state" methods or by any other type or degree of pressure by government or by others (threatened or applied, including "moral" pressure)--is bankrupt spiritually and morally. It is on a par with "forced brotherly love," a monstrous concept which is the product of "confusing the vocabulary." It violates the above-discussed right to be let alone, the right to freedom of choice, of the other Individuals involved, whose right to this aspect of Liberty cannot justly be thus sacrificed in the name of Equality; which would thereby be perverted into inequality as to Liberty, in conflict with the duty aspect of Individual Liberty-Responsibility. The power of government, or any private group, cannot ever justly and properly be used in connection with any such victimizing of any aspect of any Individual's Liberty.
13. In sum, the word "equal" in the Declaration of Independence means, first, spiritual equality (equality in the sight of God) and, second, equality in the sight of Law (basically the people's fundamental law, the Constitution)--primarily equality in Freedom from Government-over-man.
Quotes from The American Ideal of 1776 supporting this Principle.