Former president Donald Trump published a post on his social media outlet, Truth Social, sending his holiday greetings to all Americans. Mr. Trump, the current Republican frontrunner for 2024, wrote “Happy FOURTH OF JULY to everyone. We are working hard, we will take back our Country, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. The 2024 Election is our LAST GREAT CHANCE!”
The 4th of July is the quintessential American holiday as it celebrates the country’s independence from Great Britain. The origin of the holiday is that it was the formal date of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. John Adams, a signatory of the document and the second president of the United States, was of the opinion that one should celebrate the holiday on July 2nd when Congress ended its debate on the subject and adopted a less known resolution proposed by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia in favor of independence.
The text of the famous declaration proclaims that “that 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.” The phrase “all men are created equal” still rings as a revolutionary statement as it did back then.
Not only did the country fight a war of independence over it but it would effectively undergo a Civil War of its own over this phrase. As observed in the antebellum years by Abraham Lincoln himself in a letter written in 1855 to a friend that ‘As a nation, we began by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal, except negroes.'”
Lincoln would also voice such sentiments in his public speeches. In his 1858 Chicago speech, he warned that “I should like to know if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle and making exceptions to it where will it stop.” Lincoln voiced this vision of America during the Civil War itself in his famous 1863 Gettysburg Address where he said that the nation was “dedicated to” this proposition.
The end result of the Civil War would be the end of slavery and that citizenship would be given to black Americans. The Civil Rights movement would end state enforced segregation and the legal principle of separate but equal. In our own times, the Supreme Court has ended race-based affirmative action in academic settings in its decision over Students For Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President And Fellows Of Harvard College.
In Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurrence with the conservative majority opinion, he too referenced that famous and noble sentiment in the Declaration of Independence in his explanation of why affirmative action was unconstitutional. He did so by writing that “I hold out enduring hope that this country will live up to its principles so clearly enunciated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States: that all men are created equal, are equal citizens, and must be treated equally before the law.”