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 Independence‘s statement that "all men are created equal."
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 America, and no provision of the federal Constitution or Bill of Rights can be traced to it; its influence on state constitutions and bills of rights has been insignificant. It was written to serve the temporary purposes of a sanguinary conflict. It was and perhaps will ever be history’s most effective piece of propaganda, but it neither grants nor protects human rights.
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 Williamsburg on May 25. It is among the Mason Papers in the Library of Congress at this time. The original was extended by Mason into the committee draft in eighteen paragraphs and was reported on May 27 and published in Dixon‘s Virginia Gazette of June 1. It was published in Philadelphia newspapers on June 6, June 8, and June 12 of 1776. It was published and republished in newspapers and magazines all over America and in England.
Jefferson, to whom was assigned the task of writing the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, took the first three paragraphs of Mason’s original draft of the Virginia Declaration of Rights and rearranged and rephrased them to make a Preamble for the Declaration of Independence.
The preamble for the proposed Virginia Declaration of Rights as published stated that it was "the basis and foundation" of government in Virginia. Its first paragraph was:
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 Society, they cannot, by any Compact, deprive or divest their Posterity; namely, the Enjoyment of Life and Liberty with the Means of acquiring and possessing Property, and pursuing and obtaining Happiness and Safety.
Jefferson never saw that version until he returned to Virginia long after the Declaration of Independence was adopted. Jefferson‘s rendition from the Mason original was:
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.
Equality Ends at Birth
So the "basis and foundation" of the first free government in America was equality of freedom and independence, while the Jefferson perversion was equality at creation. The Declaration of Independence does not say that all men are equal. It says that they were created equal. There equality ends.
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 June 26, 1787, on the floor of the convention Alexander Hamilton, the patron Saint of the Republican Party, said:
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.
Lincoln on Equality
In his famous Gettysburg Address in 1863, Lincoln recited from the Declaration of Independence in this context:
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 Lincoln made that speech the Declaration of Rights of his home State of Illinois proclaimed in the words of George Mason:
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.
Lincoln‘s task in 1863 was much like Jefferson‘s in 1776. Equally they needed a phrase that would arrest the imagination and stir emotions. When Lincoln recited from the Declaration few remembered the phrase. For near a century before 1863 it was seldom mentioned. In 1863 as in 1776 it kindled a flame that spread. It aroused emotions of sympathy. That is the primary reason for and the most powerful result of propaganda. The maxim, "All is fair in love and war," is not alone for Machiavelli.
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 Florida, to-wit:
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 Guatemala, the Mongol Peoples Republic, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Mongolia puts it this way: "Equal rights in all spheres of the state, economic, cultural, and sociopolitical."
Russia puts it this way: "Equality of rights of citizens of the U.S.S.R. irrespective of their nationality or race; in all spheres of economic, government, cultural, political and other public activity."
While Russia has partially succeeded in reducing most of her people to the level of degradation approaching cultural "equality," she has been careful not to interfere with the segregation practices and racial mores of her people. Even Russian despots have more sense than to attempt a thing like that..
In the summer of 1955 Justice Douglas and Robert F. Kennedy, an attorney for a Senate Committee, toured Russia. Mr. Justice Douglas found something he didn’t fully tell. Mr. Kennedy spilled it in the New York Times Magazine of
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 now corpus-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 Hamilton to admit that liberty and equality cannot co-exist because, as he insists, there is an "inherent conflict" between them and "equality is slowly winning." After defining the "American creed" as "the fundamental equality of all men," he says that its tenets were written into the Declaration of Independence, the preamble of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and into the constitutions of the several states. The ideals of the American creed have thus become the highest law of the land.
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 France, named Helvetius and Rousseau, had maintained that "all men are equal," and had preached "the brotherhood of man." France was saturated with it. That philosophy had caught on with the simpleminded peasants and philosophers of France. Nothing appealed so powerfully to the ignorant French peasants as the doctrine that "all men are equal" or are brothers. To the peasant that meant that all men are kings. The slogan wasechoed all over France: "Every man a king!" The thought didn’t occur to them that if all men are kings, then all might be peasants or slaves.
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 France into the Revolution on the side of America. The war had been going on for a full year. America was in an unequal struggle for life over death. Washington had been at the head of America‘s armies a year before July 4, 1776. Washington‘s task looked hopeless. Jefferson‘s task was to win the case for America by writing a powerful preamble that would appeal to the hearts—not the minds—of the French people. Since the doctrine of human equality had become a popular creed in France and since Helvetius and Rousseau were the prophets of that creed, Jefferson directed the Declaration at the hearts of the French people by declaring that "all men are created equal."
In their old age Thomas Jefferson and John Adams progressed from political rivals to bosom friends. On the thirteenth day of July, 1813, Adams‘ mind went back to July 4, 1776, when he and Jefferson labored together in Philadelphia. He wrote to Jefferson that day:
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 Virginia:
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.
Equality in France
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 France. We may not complete the story about America without telling the story of France.
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, France adopted the celebrated French Declaration of Rights which copied much from those published by Franklin.
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 University of California on March 23, 1907, Nicholas Murray Butler, President of Columbia University, had this to say:
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. Virginia‘s Bill of Rights and Constitution were both written before the Declaration of Independence. All of the thirteen states immediately followed the example and adopted new governments. The French Revolution went out of control when it subordinated the liberties of men to the power of a government immediately responsive to equalitarian mobs. Unbridled power and liberty are in eternal enmity. As Lord Acton said, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely" and again, "A nation can never abandon its fate to an authority it cannot control."
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 Jefferson, like the gypsy, first defaced and then claimed as his own.
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 Liberty (page 334) 100 years ago: "Equality absolutely carried out leads to communism."
The prophecy is now being realized in America. It is not the "American creed." It is the creed of Marxism and the come-on of communism. 4
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.
Ideas on Liberty
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 Moscow and made felt boots on a private enterprise basis, which they sold on the black market. In short, they bootlegged the boots.
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.
From the New York Herald-Tribune October 16, 1960