„Ours was the first nation to be founded on the idea that all are created equal and all deserve equal treatment under the law. Despite our missteps and shortcomings, these ideals still inspire hope among the oppressed and give us pride in being Americans.“

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Henry Wilson photo

„The idea which pervades our Constitution; that all men of every race are equal before the laws.“

—  Henry Wilson Union Army officer, Vice president, politician, historian 1812 - 1875
Speech (June 1853), p. 79

Harry V. Jaffa photo

„The central idea of the American Founding—and indeed of constitutional government and the rule of law—was the equality of mankind“

—  Harry V. Jaffa American historian and collegiate professor 1918 - 2015
2000s, The Central Idea (2006), Context: According to Abraham Lincoln, public opinion always has a central idea from which all its minor thoughts radiate. The central idea of the American Founding—and indeed of constitutional government and the rule of law—was the equality of mankind. This thought is central to all of Lincoln's speeches and writings, from 1854 until his election as president in 1860. It is immortalized in the Gettysburg Address.

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Adlai Stevenson photo
George W. Bush photo

„A republic founded on equality for all became a prison for millions. And yet in the words of the African proverb, no fist is big enough to hide the sky. All of the generations oppressed under the laws of man could not crush the hope of freedom and defeat the purposes of God.“

—  George W. Bush 43rd President of the United States 1946
2000s, 2003, Hope and Conscience Will Not Be Silenced (July 2003), Context: There was a time in my country's history where one in every seven human beings was the property of another. In law, they were regarded only as articles of commerce, having no right to travel or to marry or to own possessions. Because families were often separated, many were denied even the comfort of suffering together. For 250 years the captives endured an assault on their culture and their dignity. The spirit of Africans in America did not break. Yet the spirit of their captors was corrupted. Small men took on the powers and airs of tyrants and masters. Years of unpunished brutality and bullying and rape produced a dullness and hardness of conscience. Christian men and women became blind to the clearest commands of their faith and added hypocrisy to injustice. A republic founded on equality for all became a prison for millions. And yet in the words of the African proverb, no fist is big enough to hide the sky. All of the generations oppressed under the laws of man could not crush the hope of freedom and defeat the purposes of God.

Barack Obama photo
Barack Obama photo

„I believe in the principle of treating people equally under the law, and that they are deserving of equal protection under the law and that the state should not discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation.“

—  Barack Obama 44th President of the United States of America 1961
2015, Context: I believe in the principle of treating people equally under the law, and that they are deserving of equal protection under the law and that the state should not discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation. And I say that, recognizing that there may be people who have different religious or cultural beliefs. But the issue is how does the state operate relative to people. If you look at the history of countries around the world, when you start treating people differently -- not because of any harm they’re doing anybody, but because they’re different -- that’s the path whereby freedoms begin to erode and bad things happen. And when a government gets in the habit of treating people differently, those habits can spread. And as an African-American in the United States, I am painfully aware of the history of what happens when people are treated differently, under the law, and there were all sorts of rationalizations that were provided by the power structure for decades in the United States for segregation and Jim Crow and slavery, and they were wrong. Remarks by President Obama and President Kenyatta of Kenya in a Press Conference at Kenyan State House in Nairobi, Kenya https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/07/25/remarks-president-obama-and-president-kenyatta-kenya-press-conference (July 25, 2015)

Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

„These are the laws that truly declare the eternal equality of all men, of all races, before the man-made laws of our land“

—  Dwight D. Eisenhower American general and politician, 34th president of the United States (in office from 1953 to 1961) 1890 - 1969
1950s, Address at the Philadelphia Convention Hall (1956), Context: So it is that the laws most binding us as a people are laws of the spirit—proclaimed in church and synagogue and mosque. These are the laws that truly declare the eternal equality of all men, of all races, before the man-made laws of our land. And we are profoundly aware that—in the world—we can claim the trust of hundreds of millions of people, across Africa and Asia—only as we ourselves hold high the banner of justice for all.

John Marshall Harlan photo

„Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law.“

—  John Marshall Harlan United States Union Army officer and Supreme Court Associate Justice 1833 - 1911
1890s, Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), Context: In view of the constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law regards man as man, and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved.

John F. Kennedy photo

„This State, this city, this campus, have stood long for both human rights and human enlightenment — and let that forever be true. This Nation is now engaged in a continuing debate about the rights of a portion of its citizens. This Nation is now engaged in a continuing debate about the rights of a portion of its citizens. That will go on, and those rights will expand until the standard first forged by the Nation's founders has been reached, and all Americans enjoy equal opportunity and liberty under law. But this Nation was not founded solely on the principle of citizens' rights. Equally important, though too often not discussed, is the citizen's responsibility. For our privileges can be no greater than our obligations. The protection of our rights can endure no longer than the performance of our responsibilities. Each can be neglected only at the peril of the other. I speak to you today, therefore, not of your rights as Americans, but of your responsibilities. They are many in number and different in nature. They do not rest with equal weight upon the shoulders of all. Equality of opportunity does not mean equality of responsibility. All Americans must be responsible citizens, but some must be more responsible than others, by virtue of their public or their private position, their role in the family or community, their prospects for the future, or their legacy from the past. Increased responsibility goes with increased ability, for "of those to whom much is given, much is required."“

—  John F. Kennedy 35th president of the United States of America 1917 - 1963
1963, Address at Vanderbilt University

Thomas Paine photo

„What use is equality in theory and in law, if it does not penetrate into our customs?“

—  Francisco Luís Gomes Indo-Portuguese physician, writer, historian, economist, political scientist and MP in the Portuguese parliament. 1829 - 1869
Os Brâmanes (1866), Os Brâmanes, p. 33

Donald J. Trump photo

„In this race for the White House, I am the Law And Order candidate. … I will work to ensure that all of our kids are treated equally, and protected equally.“

—  Donald J. Trump 45th President of the United States of America 1946
2010s, 2016, July, 2016 Republican National Convention (21 July 2016), "I am the law-and-order candidate" was a phrase used by Richard Nixon during his 1968 presidential campaign.

Dwight D. Eisenhower photo
Samuel Butler photo

„An idea must not be condemned for being a little shy and incoherent; all new ideas are shy when introduced first among our old ones.“

—  Samuel Butler novelist 1835 - 1902
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912), Part XIV - Higgledy-Piggledy, Context: An idea must not be condemned for being a little shy and incoherent; all new ideas are shy when introduced first among our old ones. We should have patience and see whether the incoherency is likely to wear off or to wear on, in which latter case the sooner we get rid of them the better. Incoherency of New Ideas

Neil Peart photo
Harry V. Jaffa photo

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