Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 20, 2018

Living up to Declaration of Independence

By Jim Turner | Sep 28, 2017

To the editor:

We all know that Abraham Lincoln was wise, courageous and good. He was also a very clever and savvy politician. When it came time to write the Gettysburg Address, the pressure was on.

What to say after the greatest battle in American History? After so many men had died and been injured in the Civil War? What to say to begin a reconciliation? To reaffirm our nation’s values and our founding principles?

Lincoln referred not to The Constitution ratified in 1788, which truly is our founding document, the document that established the United States of America. No, he referred to our Declaration of Independence, which was by no means our founding document but a very effective and useful statement of principle to support the decision to become independent from Great Britain.

So why did he choose the declaration? Why did he say ”Four score and seven years ago” our nation was founded on the principle that all men are created equal? It wasn’t.

The constitution didn’t abolish slavery; it protected it. The reason Lincoln said our founding principle was “all men are created equal” is because that is what he thought it should be. And by saying so in his speech, he more or less insured it would be for the rest of our history. He then goes on to say “and are endowed by their creator with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

No idea of the kind is expressed in the constitution, only in the Declaration of Independence. So by making the declaration our founding document and not the constitution, he forever changed the moral foundation of our country. The moral principles upon which our country was founded.

It took a long time for the constitution to be amended to include black men, white and black women, and bring all manner of religious beliefs, creeds, nationalities, and even lifestyles under the protection of our nation’s laws.

Each new generation is faced with a challenge to live up to our nation’s ideals. Each generation seems to bring a group with it that must fight for their right of equal protection under the law; to be recognized as equal not just in thought and words but in action.

As the 21st century we live in closes in on its second decade, we find ourselves debating the rights of gay, lesbian, and transgender citizens of the United States. How do we address this new challenge to the validity of our founding principles?

According to our nation’s core principles found in both the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, every American citizen no matter what their gender, sexual identity or private lifestyle choice they may pursue, have a right to the pursuit of happiness and equal protection under the law.

What no individual American citizen has is a greater claim to that protection than others. And we all must work together to balance all our citizens’ needs without favoring one over another. We must work together to reconcile our differences on the community level, keeping all our nation’s founding ideals and principles in mind. If we do, only good will come of it.


- Jim Turner, Fairfield

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