Research Proposal Example on The Declaration of Independence

THE CONCEPT OF EQUALITY IN THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

Abstract

The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America became a turning point in world history. One of the topical aspects of the Declaration of Independence is the introduction of the concept of equality, which became decisive and eventually shaped out the pillars of the American democracy, one of the most sustainable governmental regimes in history. It is widely known that the document declared the US as free from British rule; however, the paper is focused on the legal aspect, pointing out the independent and equal position of both nations on the global political stage. Furthermore, the Declaration brings up the rights of the citizens. As a result, such a notion as fundamental rights emerged, and each citizen of the US became well aware of the legal approvement and protection of their freedoms and interests. The Declaration gave rise to multiple interpretations and extension requests, especially regarding the rights of the racial minorities. Even though the document never became actual legislation, it made up the foundation of the constitution of the United States of America. In this respect, the Declaration of Independence, among all things, was crucial for the formation of the American nation as it put forward the concept of equality both from political and social perspectives.

The Concept of Equality in the Declaration of Independence

The concept of equality is multifaceted and complex. Accordingly, in different spheres of human activity, people approach it from specific perspectives. Thus, in politics, economics, ethics, and sociology, the definition of equality differs significantly. However, all the mentioned fields are governed by people, and, in fact, as much as equality, they are social constructs of humanity as well. They are organized into separate branches of studies to lighten the perception of the world. The same applies to the notion of state. However, state is a complex social construct, and therefore, the most powerful one. To be more precise, it has the authority to affect its constituents. In this relation, the issues related to equality should be governed on the state level to receive the maximal response and validity. In this regard, the Declaration of Independence of the USA serves a vivid example of the concept of equality being coined, introduced, adopted both domestically and globally, and finally, becoming dominant.

Methodology

In this research, primarily qualitative methods are implemented in order to provide a comprehensive analysis of the concept of equality in the Declaration of Independence of the USA. Qualitative methods are preferable in the study due to the sociological nature of the subject. In other words, the concept of equality cannot be physically measured regarding intensity, amount, or frequency, and therefore appears inapplicable to the quantitative research methods (“Research Guides: Qualitative Methods” 2018). In this relation, the paper comprises purposeful research aimed at the analysis of the interdependence of the concept of equality mentioned in the Declaration of Independence and the further formation of the American society. The research also highlights historical premises to the creation of the document and the necessity of introduction of such a concept to the newly formed country. The following inquiry presupposes the holistic perspective and a context-sensitive approach. Precisely, the presentation of the idea of equality is regarded as a complex phenomenon, and the historical, social, and temporal contexts are factored in.

Results

The United States of America stated in their Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, that “…all men are created equal” (Jefferson et al. 1776). After two exhausting centuries of colonization of the continent by Europeans, the revolt of the United States struck in 1776. The new colonies in North America declared their independence from the British king and fought for their own country, which became an undisputed reality in 1789 with the Constitution and first president George Washington.

In 1774, delegates from 12 colonies met in Philadelphia. The Continental Congress solemnly declared American rights, demanded the withdrawal of the oppressive laws, and called for a boycott of British goods. In April 1775, the first armed conflict between British troops and settler militias occurred. The Continental Congress declared the state of defense. Thomas Paine, a recently immigrated English radical, advocated the policy of the US in January 1776 when he demanded independence of the colonies in his pamphlet “Common Sense” (“Milestones: 1776–1783” 2018). On 2 July 1776, the Continental Congress (without the New York delegates) proclaimed independence. Thomas Jefferson provided a draft suggesting an eloquently designed concept of equality, and the final version of the document was approved on July 4.

Jefferson enumerated the king’s transgressions, explaining human immutable rights, namely, life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness. The fact that this program was successful and that the principle of equality (“all men are created equal”) was eventually adopted, and it inspired generations to enhance the historical significance of the Declaration of Independence.

It is critical to mention that the initial draft suggested by Jefferson differed from the approved paper. The main discrepancy lies in the fact that the passage dedicated to the status of slaves and the slave-owning regime in the US was censored and was never released as a part of the Declaration of Independence. To be more precise, it declared the following:

he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce (Jefferson 1776).

However, even though the Declaration was an official document, it was not legislature, and therefore it did not possess enough validity to abolish slavery in the US. Yet, it could have put the rights of the racial minorities into the foreground much earlier than when the events of the Civil War took place, and the core prescript of the 14th Amendment could have been adopted almost a century before the actual date. Moreover, in the light of the increasing importance of the Declaration for the national self-image, this transition might have taken place much faster.

When it comes to the contemporary US, and the way the Declaration made an impact on the life of the nation, it is necessary to mention how much the competition is significant there.

Specifically, “people making just above the minimum wage were among the least supportive of a minimum-wage hike” because in this case, they would not be able to show off how successful they were (Hutson 2015). Cultural standards refer to ways of thinking, perceiving, trading, and valuing. The US citizens enjoy universal recognition through their culture and are firmly rooted in it. Nowadays equality is considered by the majority of the people of this culture as rational, moral, typical, and binding. Personal behavior is regulated according to these cultural standards.

It is fair to note that equality has only developed in the dimension of human rights (as it was established in the Declaration), whereas economy-wise, the earning rates of the white population exceed those of black citizens by almost twice (Kraus 2017). It is critical that American equality thinking is based on an idea that all human beings are equal because they all have the same opportunities to realize their right to personal happiness, guaranteed by the American Constitution. The Americans assume that all people have the same conditions to build a successful and independent life if they make enough effort, nobody is blocked on the way to achieving something, and no one is excluded on the basis of or by something. However, today the US policy is being somewhat contradictory when it comes to the rights of non-citizens, who choose the US as their home. Precisely, “all human beings are equal because they all have the same opportunities to realize their right to personal happiness, guaranteed by the American Constitution. The Americans assume that all people have the same conditions to build a successful and independent life if they make enough effort, nobody has their way blocked to achieve something, no one is excluded on the basis of or by something” (“What the Declaration of Independence Really Means by ‘Pursuit of Happiness’” 2018). It follows that despite the social approval and acceptance of the concept of equality and its significance for the nation, it does not necessarily function as the decisive factor determining state policy on specific matters.

From another perspective, American companies promote the competitive spirit of all employees, which compromises the principle of equality for the sake of development and improvement. Employees are highly motivated to contribute their ideas, whereas the hierarchies are kept as flat as possible with a small power distance, which may be considered as a manifestation of equality. Precisely, according to Hofstede’s rate, the average power distance index in the US equals only 40 points. It is an undeniably low result, especially when compared to 93 points in Russia, and 80 in China (“Country Comparison – Hofstede Insights” 2018). Because of the low power distance, the employees in the US can, for example, refer to their CEO by name, and therefore feel motivated and recognized. In addition, they tend to be more willing to comply with requests and do everything to complete tasks as quickly as possible.

Of course, in the US people also love to succeed personally in their lives and show it off. However, they do not focus their entire life on competition, but instead, take a closer look at the personality. In this sense, healthy ambition, self-confidence, competitiveness, and individualism are essential. However, if a person does not radiate charisma and competitiveness, and especially if they hide behind hierarchies and titles, such a person would never win respect in the US, because such behavior stands in the way of the equality and success espoused by the founding fathers.

The concept of equality played a crucial role in the founding of the United States. However, for many Americans, the freedom of the individual is a valuable asset as well. Therefore, the state should regulate as little as possible and make rules. But this can also have disadvantages because the state also protects people less. In Germany, for example, all people are covered by health insurance. Basically, this means that every month they put money into a big pot, even if they are healthy. When they get sick, their medical bills are paid out of this pot. Because treatments sometimes cost a lot, the financial risk is distributed to all. In the US, there are far fewer people with health insurance. Above all, when people get older and therefore go to the doctor more often, they often have to pay increasingly large bills. Some are not treated because they can not afford it financially.

It is of importance that the first half-century after the Declaration was released, its opening passage was considered the most crucial part. Namely, the words about state sovereignty:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation (Jefferson et al. 1776).

The Declaration of Independence, from approximately the middle of the 1820s, has begun to attract public attention on fundamental human rights: “… 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.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed …” These words entered the pantheon of the “civil religion” of the United States as the cornerstone of American democracy, as an affirmation of the American Dream. The tendency is relevant in the contemporary US as well.

References

“Country Comparison – Hofstede Insights.” (2018). Hofstede Insights. https://www.hofstede-insights.com/country-comparison/china,russia,the-usa/.
Hutson, Matthew. 2015. “The Thirst for Competition.” The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/10/why-we-compete/403201/.
Jefferson, Thomas. 1776. “Jefferson’s ‘Original Rough Draught’ of the Declaration of Independence – Declaring Independence: Drafting The Documents.” Loc.gov. https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/declara/ruffdrft.html.
Jefferson, Thomas, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston. (1776). “Declaration of Independence: A Transcription.” National Archives. https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript.
Kraus, Michael. 2017. “How Fair Is American Society?” Yale Insights. https://insights.som.yale.edu/insights/how-fair-is-american-society.
“Milestones: 1776–1783.” (2018). History.State.gov. https://history.state.gov/milestones/1776-1783/declaration.
“Research Guides: Qualitative Methods.” (2018). Libguides.Usc.edu. http://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/qualitative.
“What the Declaration of Independence Really Means by ‘Pursuit of Happiness’.” 2018. News.Emory.edu. http://news.emory.edu/stories/2014/06/er_pursuit_of_happiness/campus.html.

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