Tag: We Hold These Truths

We Hold These Truths: The Pursuit of Happiness

 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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.

This line is the start of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence of “the thirteen United States of America”. It is well-known to most Americans and serves as an inspiration to others around the world. However, the last four words are misunderstood in the 21st century. The Pursuit of Happiness did not mean chasing after the emotion or the feeling of being “happy”. To the Founders, this term meant living your life as you saw fit. It was about shaping your own destiny, instead of having that destiny shaped for you. That is a high ideal an imperfect nation does not always achieve for its people.

Lincoln at Peoria

 

I hope today’s rather brief group writing post on “Truth” is informative on a topic I regard as significant. The reason for its significance surrounds the mounting accusations of racism involving our Republic, revisionist history with regard to the role of slavery, and the need to temper certain accusations with truth.

We are told almost on a daily basis, even by our leaders, that the United States is systemically racist. We are told that our founding was a product of slavery, as was the Second Amendment. We are told that some of our most revered persons bear the stain of slavery. In addition to the founding fathers, even Abraham Lincoln—in my view, our greatest President—has been subjected to scrutiny.

It is true that, until his address at Peoria, IL, on October 16, 1854, Lincoln had not focused on the issue of slavery. But, in 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act drew his scrutiny. The law permitted settlers to determine whether slavery would be permitted in their region, and Lincoln saw it as a de facto repeal of the Missouri Compromise, which outlawed slavery above the 36°30′ parallel.