America The Myth Of Equality Essay Research

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America: The Myth Of Equality Essay, Research Paper America The Myth of Equality To many, the Unites States serves as the ideal model of democracy for the modern world. Yet, how truly worthy is America of this status? Although it has been said that, “Equality is as American as baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie,” one must be extremely critical when analyzing such a statement. By taking a historical perspective to the question of how “equal” American equality actually is, it is simple to recognize how problematic the “Land of the Free” mentality can be. The early America’s most prominent thinkers have been sensationalized and given credit for developing a free and equal system. However, one can recognize that their manner of thinking was far from this idea of

“all men are created equal” by critical examination of their literature. When analyzing equality, a sociological and legal approach must be made. In the case of the United States, the sociological stratification, or division of power, of minority groups had adversely affected the development of the legal system. Especially in the 1600s and 1700s, legal and social equality of those not of the Caucasian persuasion, the less fortunate, and of the female gender was almost nonexistent. This inequality is a direct result of the early American society’s ranking system. Equality was not perceived in the minds of such individuals as John Winthrop, John Adams, and James Madison, and as a result, their significant accomplishments towards the development of the American system have

tainted the institution itself. One of the earliest American social groups was the 17th Century Puritans. This society had an extremely unique and strict manner of thinking that was entirely based on inequality. This is clearly represented by the writings of the Puritan leader John Winthrop. In “A Model of Christian Charity,” Winthrop outlines the societal rationale, and in turn, the disparity of equality in his society. The gist of the Puritan way of life is that, by the grace of God, certain individuals were empowered with the ability to be enlightened and the capability of achieving much within the society itself. However, by the same reasoning, some individuals were also destined to take the lesser roles in society, and as a result, had no power to move up within the

ranks because of this inescapable predetermination. This is represented by the following Winthrop passage: “God Almighty…..hath so disposed of the condition of mankind as in all times some must be rich, some poor; some high and eminent in power and dignity, others mean and in subjection” (Winthrop, 79). To further inequality, Winthrop stressed the need for each to take their place for the good of society: “…hold conformity with the rest of His (God’s) works, being delighted to show forth the glory of His wisdom in the variety and difference of the creatures and the glory of His power, in ordering all these differences for the preservation and good of the whole” (Winthrop, 79). The Puritans did not believe in equality, and any problems resulting from this mindset was

silenced by Winthrop’s pleads for those unhappy souls, assigned by the Almighty to be subordinate, to take their place for the preservation of society. Although inequalities may not been less evident later on in the 1700s, societal stratification was a factor during the formation of the American political system. One leader at this time was the nation’s second president, John Adams. Previous to the release of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, which Adams had a significant role in developing, a set of correspondences between Adams and his wife, Abigail, show readers the role of women during this age. Abigail wrote to her husband suggesting that the Declaration of Independence be modified to include provisions for increasing women’s rights (Adams, 65). John Adams’