Equality is a First Principle of America’s free and just government. As explained in the Declaration of Independence, the Founding Fathers believed that “all men are created equal.”
The Founding Fathers embraced the Judeo-Christian understanding that the Creator created all individuals, that each person arises from His handiwork, and that every person embodies His blessing. Regardless of physical, mental, and social differences between individuals, each individual is equally precious in His eyes. While this First Principle originally arose from a belief in the nature of the Creator, the laws of nature lead many to the same conclusion.
By embracing the First Principle of equality, America rejected the deliberately inequitable regimes dominating the globe in their time. Inequality codified in the law was a cornerstone of government throughout world history. Hereditary nobility and other special classes were almost universally granted special privileges unknown to the common person.
Modern history is also replete with such societies. South Africa during apartheid segregated its society by race; the Soviet Union divided its society among classes, ethnic groups, creed, and party; and Nazi Germany committed genocide in the pursuit of Aryan superiority.
Yet, from the American Revolution and for generations thereafter, equality was not afforded to one-half of Americans – women. Driven by the idea of the First Principle of equality, suffragists pressed for the vote.
Echoing the Declaration of Independence, suffragists in the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions (written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton), railed against gender oppression as violating the First Principles of equality, the Social Compact, and Unalienable Rights. It also explained that men and women had the right to alter or abolish the current unjust system of government. Susan B. Anthony could rightfully ask, “how can ‘the consent of the governed’ be given, if the right to vote be denied?”
Through generations of struggle, the First Principles of equality, the Social Compact, unalienable rights, and revolution resulted in women’s suffrage and great advances in equality for women. Understanding the enormous effect of symbols, they even created their own Suffragist Flag.
Although the struggle is not complete, the First Principle of equality requires that each person be treated equally under the law, and that the equal protection of the laws be afforded to all.