- April 19, 2020
The Principle of Equality
ThePrinciple of Equality
ThePrinciple of Equality
Duringthe 1st half of the 19th century, that is, 1789 to 1861, the AmericanSociety experienced broad aspects of political and social culturescompounded by contradictions. It was an era filled with matters ofthe aristocracy, democracy, elitism and populism, exclusion andinclusion, success and failure, reform and backlash, equality andhierarchy, voting and violence among others. Three Americangenerations lived during this period. It had vast uncertainties thatinfluenced their emotional and material lives: westward expansion,economic development, and population growth. This was aided by longinterludes of relative harmony after the completion of the War of1812 that ended in 1815 and the start of the War of Mexico in 1846.Though the United States continued to gain in terms of durability,most Americans experienced the acute fragility as a political andsocial tests seemed to contain conflict and instability than harmonyand stability. While responding to the turbulence and the chroniccultural unsettlement, some Americans included the principle of“hierarchy” and others “equality.” In that regard, this paperwill seek to explain whether there were more Americans committed tothe principle of equality during the first half of the 19th century.
Perhapsas elaborated by Banneker’s letter to Jefferson, more peoplestrived to attain equality during this period. In a letter to ThomasJefferson, Benjamin Banneker encouraged him to accept the inevitableresponsibility of maintaining the rights of human nature. EngagingJefferson to change his attitude toward African Americans, Bannekersupposed that he would willingly clinch every chance to eliminatethat chain of irrational and untrue notions that prevailed within theregion. However, as stated by Banneker, speaking about equalityespecially regarding the blacks was not allowable. Prepossession andprejudice were prevalent in the area regarding complexions. Theprinciple of equality was contravened by many people like Jeffersonwho had notions of black inferiority [ CITATION Ben91 l 1033 ].
AbrahamLincoln also propelled the principle of equality. In the speech “ThePerpetuation of Our Political Institutions,” he strived to warnagainst the risks of slavery within the U.S. According to the speech,slavery would cripple the federal government. As such, Lincolnchampioned equality as a way of strengthening the institutions. Thebasis of this speech revolved around citizenship in a democraticstate. In championing equality, Lincoln also deemed slavery as thereason why the law was disrespected in the country. By referencingseveral examples, it was clear that inequality had inhibited theprogression of this country. The fight for equality was instigated bya small group of Americans who represented the wider majority [ CITATION Roy16 l 1033 ].
Asa social reformer, Robert Owen strived to make the dreams ofindependence a reality. Britain was also caught up in the reformimpulses of utopianism, women’s rights, and abolitionism. In hiscritique of individualism, Owen tried to champion equality. When hecame to the United States, he introduced an entirely novel societystate altering the selfish and ignorant community to an enlightenedstate that unites the interests of the people into one. It alsoremoved all the contentious issues between individuals. To shift fromthe personal to a societal system from the single families withdifferent interests to societies incorporative of many households,they ought to be progressive change. According to the reformist, thechanges would be too massive to the current conducts of the society.It would only be successful if people were acquainted with oneanother. The habits, sentiments, and conditions had to be the same.As such, personal selfishness was disregarded in the society. Byfighting against individualism, Robert Owen pushed for equalitywithin the society [ CITATION Ame l 1033 ].
DavidWalker`s Petition, perhaps the most drastic of all the anti-slaveryarticles, triggered many people when it was printed in 1829.According to the plea, Walker asked slaves to retaliate against theirmasters. As a free black, Walker fought the slavery regime that hadtargeted the black population. During this era, the African-Americansociety was enslaved and would even be killed in the line of duty. Inhis quest, he implored the slaves to fight back and if necessary killtheir masters. This is because the masters were willing to murderthem hence revolting was a way of defending themselves. Equality tohim had to be achieved at all costs. As a matter of fact, somereformists were against this approach since it would cause chaos.Maybe more Americans were not committed to achieving equality,primarily because slavery was common. However, the goal of thereformists was to free the blacks from slavery and view everyone asequals [ CITATION Dav l 1033 ].
Theaim of the Appeal was to impart pride among the African Americanreaders as well as give hope that change would be realized at somepoint. It discredited colonization, which was quite popularespecially in African countries. Walker believed America belonged toevery individual who played a role in building it. He further impliedthat America was more of a black state than the whites. Furthermore,the black population enriched the country with their tears and blood.It was unfair for other people to drive the blacks away from acountry that they helped in battle [ CITATION Dav l 1033 ].
Genderequality was another major concept that needed to be addressed duringthis period. Women rights in the United States were not adhered.Before the 20th century, the males were responsible for assigning anddefining females’ roles. Even though all women were controlled bythe men’s determination of behavior, the middle-class sectionsuffered the most. The males enacted a philosophical jail thatimperiled and muzzled women. This concept referred to as “the Cultof True Womanhood,” encouraged victimization of women. TheDomesticity and Purity cults were described as true womanhood. Inother words, these two aspects were central to defining the truewoman. Struggling under the apparent munificence of the Domesticitycult, women were confined to their homes or some private sphere. Theywere portrayed as servants attending to the various needs of thefamily. Moreover, the purity cult mandated the females to stay pureand virtuous in marriage. In addition to that, the aspects encouragedthem to remain modesty. Spiritual piousness and compliance wereperipheral beliefs in this ideology. Through this criteria, men wouldensure the docility and passivity of the women. As such, religionwould pacify their desires that seemed to deviate from the setstandards. Submission inferred vulnerability and reliance on thepatriarchal head [ CITATION His16 l 1033 ].
Thefirst convention of women rights was carried out at the WesleyanChapel in the Seneca Falls, New York. Organized by Elizabeth CadyStanton and Lucretia Mott, the fight for women rights was instigated.On the first day, 200 women convened, and men would join in the laterdays. At the convention, equal rights for women were unanimouslyaccepted. The fight continued, and it was achieved in 1920 when theconstitution equality rights granted the American Women [ CITATION His16 l 1033 ].
Inconclusion, the principal of equality was a movement during the firsthalf of the 19th century. Though many people drove the agenda, itsuffered equal amounts of setbacks. For instance, the white masterswere not ready to release the blacks from slavery. On the other hand,gender equality did not seem to be practical. However, the fight forequality continues via the guardianship of Abraham Lincoln, DavidWalker, and Benjamin Banneker among others.
American History. (n.d.). Robert Owen, critique of individualism (1825-1826). Retrieved from http://www.indiana.edu/~kdhist/H105-documents-web/week11/Owen1826.html
Banneker, B. (1791, August 19). Banneker`s letter to Jefferson. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part2/2h71.html
Basler, R. P. (2016). Abraham Lincoln`s Lyceum address 1838. Retrieved from http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/lyceum.htm
David Walker`s Appeal 1829. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h2931.html
History.com. (2016). Seneca Falls Convention begins 1848. Retrieved from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/seneca-falls-convention-begins