Equality verses Liberty: The Eternal Conflict
DECEMBER 01, 1960 by R. CARTER PITTMAN
Mr. Pittman, an Attorney of Law, Dalton, Georgia, believes that the current emphasis upon "equality" is misconceived, in spite of many statements by responsible men that "equality" is a basic tenet of American government. He argues that, by its very nature, "equality" is inimical to "liberty," and his research casts new light upon the eighteenth-century meaning of the Declaration of
No one questions the right of all men to equal justice under law, but propagandists have carried the doctrine beyond equality of rights to equality of things, and men are heard to proclaim human equality who would revolt at the suggestion that all birds, all fish, all cattle, all dogs, or all race horses are equal. Of course, all men are not created equal any more so than are all other members of the animal kingdom. Even if they are created equal, creation ends when life begins, and life is always unequal. Nevertheless, we are told over and over again and again that all men are equal, and the Declaration of Independence is cited as final authority.
The Declaration of Independence never became living law in
The first paragraph of the Declaration speaks of the necessity "for one people. •. to assume… the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature… entitle them," thus reaffirming the separate and equal station doctrine established by nature under which all great people have progressed throughout history. Then follows, "all men are created equal," equating "one people" with "all men" and "created" with "laws of nature." No one who helped to write it or who voted to adopt it ever asserted the doctrine of human equality either before or after July 4, 1776, but the Declaration of Independence, like the Constitution, has "taken on new meaning" by the application of "new philosophy" and "modern authority."
At about the time when Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston, and Robert Sherman were named as a committee to write the Declaration of Independence, to accord with instructions from the Virginia Convention, which met in May 1776, George Mason’s original draft of the Virginia Declaration of Rights was a popular subject of conversation in Philadelphia and all over America. A draft of ten paragraphs of Mason’s original was mailed to Richard Henry Lee by T. L. Lee from
The preamble for the proposed Virginia Declaration of Rights as published stated that it was "the basis and foundation" of government in
That all men are born equally free and independent and have certain inherent natural Rights, of which they cannot, by any Compact, deprive, or divest their Posterity; among which are the Enjoyment of Life and Liberty, with the Means of acquiring and possessing Property, and pursuing and Obtaining Happiness and Safety.
The Virginia Convention, before officially adopting Mason’s original or the committee draft, changed the first paragraph to read:
That all Men are by Nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent Rights of which when they enter into a State of
That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life,
Equality Ends at Birth
So the "basis and foundation" of the first free government in
When the United States Constitution was under discussion at the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention in 1787 not one delegate from any of the twelve states represented suggested that "all menare equal" either at creation or in life. On
Inequality will exist as long as liberty exists. It unavoidably results from that very liberty itself.
Apparently every mind in the Convention assented, because not a word may be found in all the Notes of Debates to indicate that any delegate believed in the doctrine of human equality in 1787.
So far as we have found, the doctrine of human equality was not suggested by any one in the battle that raged over ratification and a bill of rights.
The Constitution proclaims in its preamble that it was established "to… insure domestic tranquility… and secure the blessings of liberty." Nowhere does it hint a purpose to insure or impose equality of men or things. The due process clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments which render life, liberty, and property immune from attack except by the orderly processes fixed by law, insure that American governments may not impose equality.
In his famous Gettysburg Address in 1863,
Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
At the hour when
That all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and indefeasible rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, and of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property and reputation, and of pursuing their own happiness.
Only a year before, on
You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races.
Whether it be right or wrong I need not discuss; but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think…
Even when you cease to be slaves, you are yet far removed from being placed on an equality with white people. On this broad continent not a single man of your race is made the equal of a single man of ours. Go where you are treated best, and the ban is still upon you. I cannot alter it if I would…. See our present condition —the country engaged in war, our white men cutting one another’s throats, and then consider what we know to be the truth. But for your race among us there would be no war, although many men engaged on either side do not care for you one way or the other. It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated.
Views of the Supreme Court
The Declaration of Rights of California, home state of Chief Justice Warren of the Supreme Court, is almost a verbatim copy of the official Virginia Declaration of Rights. It proclaims:
All men are by nature free and independent, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing and protecting property; and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.
No member of the Supreme Court can find support for equalitarianism in the fundamental laws of his home state.
The constitutions of the various republics of the world to be found in three volumes of Peaslee’s Constitutions of Nations reveal that the doctrine of human equality has been universally rejected in the constitutions of the noncommunist world. The constitutions of a few communist countries proclaim the doctrine of human equality but none of the living constitutions of free republics, so far as we have found, now proclaim or perpetuate that doctrine.
Thirty-one of the constitutions of the nations of the world contain Aristotle’s equality clause, as does
Equal before the law.
For all men to be "equally free and independent" they must be "equal before the law." There is no such thing as freedom and independence under men. It exists under law or not at all. The Fourteenth Amendment guaranty that no state shall deprive any citizen of "equal protection of the laws," is but another way of expressingman’s inherent right to equality of freedom and independence under law.
The Communist Kind of "Equality"
The same concept of equality before the law is expressed, sometimes in the words of Mason, and sometimes in the words of Aristotle, and protected by safeguards, in more than seventy of the eighty-three constitutions edited by Peaslee in 1950. Only four contain the concept of cultural, economic, or social equality that Myrdal found to be the "American creed." Those four are
In the summer of 1955 Justice Douglas and Robert F. Kennedy, an attorney for a Senate Committee, toured
In every city that we visited there were two different school systems. There was one set of schools for the local children —those of a different color and race from the European Russian children. State and collective farms were operated by one group or the other, rarely by a mixture of both.
Although work is supposedly being done to minimize the differences, many of the cities we visited were still split into two sections, with the finer residential areas being reserved for the European Russians. European Russians coming into the area receive a 30 per cent wage preferential over local inhabitants doing the same jobs. The whole pattern of segregation and discrimination was as pronounced in this area as virtually anywhere else in the world.
A distinguishing feature of communism is that it never practices what it preaches. It always says one thing to distract attention as it does another.
Karl Gunnar Myrdal, whose book, American Dilemma, is nowcorpus-juris-tertius and "modern authority" in the Supreme Court’s pseudo-socio-law, defined the "American creed," on page 4 of his book, as the "fundamental equality of all men." On pages 4 and 9 he unwittingly copied
He must have known that the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights and those of the states were written "to secure the blessings of liberty" and that neither says a word about securing human equality.
On pages 12 and 13 Myrdal said:
The worship of the Constitution… is a most flagrant violation of the American creed which is strongly opposed to stiff formulas.
On page 18 Myrdal finds judges and lawyers to be anathema to those indoctrinated with the "American creed" saying:
… the judicial order is in many respects contrary to all their inclinations.
Naturally so because liberty may not exist without a constitution sustained, as written, by an emancipated judiciary selected for learning and honor. Equality may be established only where the judiciary is so prostituted that it will undermine that which its members take an oath to support.
Why the Declaration Says "Created Equal"
Why did Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams, the subcommittee that drafted the Declaration of Independence, use a phrase so susceptible to misuse and misconstruction as "all men are created equal"? The answer to that question is partially explained in the Writings of John Adams. Prior to 1776 two half-demented philosophers of
The Declaration of Independence recites that its purpose was "to enable the states to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do." Those who wrote it and those who signed it knew that it was written for the principal purpose of bringing
In their old age Thomas Jefferson and John Adams progressed from political rivals to bosom friends. On the thirteenth day of July, 1813,
Inequalities of mind and body are so established by God Almighty in his constitution of human nature that no art or policy can ever plane them down to a level. I have never read reasoning more absurd, sophistry more gross, in proof of the Athanasian creed, or transubstantiation, than the subtle labors of Helvetius and Rousseau to demonstrate the natural equality of mankind. Jus cuique, the golden rule, do as you would be done by, is all the equality that can be supported or defended by reason or common sense.
About a year later, on the fifteenth day of April, 1814, John Adams wrote to John Taylor of
Inequalities are a part of the natural history of man. I believe that none but Helvetius will affirm, that all children are born with equal genius.
That all men are born to equal rights is true. Every being has a right to his own, as clear, as moral, as sacred, as any other being has. This is as indubitable as a moral government in the universe. But to teach that all men are born with equal powers and faculties, to equal influence in society, to equal property and advantages through life, is as gross a fraud, as glaring an imposition on the credulity of the people, as ever was practiced… by the self-styled philosophers of the French Revolution. For honor’s sake, Mr. Taylor, for truth and virtue’s sake, let American philosophers and politicians despise it.
Much has been falsely written and more has been mistakenly said about the influence of the human equality doctrine of the Declaration of Independence on
In 1783 Benjamin Franklin translated and prepared for publication a French edition of the Declaration of Independence and all American state bills of rights and constitutions adopted up to that time, including the committee draft of Virginia’s Declaration of Rights and Constitution, both written by George Mason —but not the official draft of the Virginia Declaration which Franklin did not have because it was not published in any form for distribution outside of Virginia until well into the 1800′s. As is well known, that book greatly influenced the French Revolution. In August 1789,
Since Helvetius and Rousseau had been the prophets of the creed of equalitarianism, one would expect the French Declaration of 1789 to have asserted the doctrine that "all men are created equal" as did the Declaration of Independence. But, instead of following Helvetius, Rousseau, or the Declaration of Independence, France rephrased George Mason’s original and asserted as the first paragraph of her Declaration language which, when translated back to English, comes out: "men are born and always continue free and equal in respect of their rights." Her Declaration then defines "the natural and imprescriptible rights of man" as "liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression."
How Power Corrupts
The French Revolution teaches that liberty does not reside in the power of the majority to run the state but it lies rather in the security of a minority from the arbitrary exertion of the majority exercising the powers of the State. In that bath of blood equality finally became the revolutionary creed. The nobility was leveled to the middle class and finally the middle class was leveled to the proletarian. The attempt to create a classless society resulted in the complete suppression of liberty.
Power now moved smoothly over a level plateau. The promised liberty and freedom of the French people vanished in the dead sea of equality.
In his Essays on Freedom and Power (1948 edition), page 154, Lord Acton had this to say about the effects of the doctrine of equality in the French Revolution:
The deepest cause which made the French Revolution so disastrous to liberty was its theory of equality… With this theory of equality, liberty was quenched in blood and Frenchmen became ready to sacrifice all other things to save life and fortune.
Speaking on Charter Day at the
The political and social anarchy which Lord Acton described must be the inevitable result whenever the passion for economic equality overcomes the love of liberty in men’s breasts. For the state is founded upon justice, and justice involves liberty, and liberty denies economic equality; because equality of ability, of efficiency, and even of physical force are unknown among men.
The American Revolution was kept under control by constitutions that limited power in order to preserve liberty.
Free and Unequal
It is equality of freedom and independence that gives unto man his opportunity to be rich or poor or to be good or bad. Equality of men leaves no choice, because if all men are equal by nature or inherently, there can be no differences and no distinctions. All have an equal right to stand at the judgment bars of God and man —but all are not entitled to the same judgment. Virtue and depravity are not entitled to the same rewards on earth or in Heaven.
It is inequality that gives enlargement to religion, to intellect, to energy, to virtue, to love, and to wealth. Equality of intellect stabilizes mediocrity. Equality of wealth makes all men poor. Equality of religion destroys all creeds. Equality of energy renders all men sluggards. Equality of virtue suspends all men without the gates of Heaven. Equality of love stultifies every manly passion, destroys every family altar, and mongrelizes the races of men. Equality homogenizes so that cream does not rise to the top. It puts the eagle in the hen house so that he may no longer soar. It subverts civilization by encouraging the Hottentot to claim equal footing with the cultured and intellectual in any scheme of social administration.
Compulsory Equality Means Slavery
Equality of freedom cannot exist without inequality in the rewards and earned fruits of that freedom. There can be no equality of freedom, without leaving to all men a free and lawful choice of the "means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness" as Mason had it when
It is inequality that makes "the pursuit of happiness" something more than a dry run or a futile chase. It is inequality that makes the race. It is the father of every joy and the giver of every good gift. More than 2,000 years ago Aristotle said: "Equality may exist only among slaves." Slavery is the end result of leveling. In the fruitless effort to achieve equality short of slavery the peaks must be bulldozed into the valleys to make a level plain. Such may be done only through the process now called "social engineering" which holds that the end justifies the means. Those means must ever be force, restriction, terror, and a complete loss of liberty.
Equality may be imposed only in a despotism. Equality beyond the range of legal rights is despotic restraint. It is nowhere sought to be imposed except in the communistic sewers of slavic slavery. As Francis Lieber pointed out in his great work on Civil
The prophecy is now being realized in
Editor’s note: This is a condensation of an article which first appeared under the same title in the American Bar Association Journal, August 1960. A reprint of that article will be supplied upon request to THE FREEMAN.
Russians Catch Sly Bootmaker
By day, F. I. Kuznetsov worked in a Soviet co-operative boot factory, as any good Soviet bootmaker should do. By night, he and his wife went into the basement of their home near
Police who arrested Kuznetsov found bank books listing deposits of $42,300, and 1,500 gold coins, and two automobiles. Private enterprise had paid off.