Lessons of our Founding Fathers

By Jamie Haynes on
July 1, 2011

On July 4, 1776, a group of patriots stood together in Philadelphia and declared our independence from Great Britain. They risked everything to defend the belief that "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."

235 years have passed since they sought to create a new government based on the ideals Americans cherish above all others, yet women are still fighting to be equals. But we must not give up, and can look to the lessons of our Founding Fathers over two centuries ago for inspiration.

These men understood that change would not happen overnight -- that future generations of Americans must continue their work of creating a more perfect and just union. Congressional negotiations on the Declaration of Independence nearly ended when the entire southern delegation threatened to walk out because the original draft included language denouncing the practice of slavery. So the language was removed, and in the 1860's brother fought brother to end slavery. Throughout our nation's history, Americans have proven time and again that we are up to the challenge set forth by our forefathers, that we will fight to correct injustice and strive for fairness, whether through the women's suffrage movement, the civil rights movement, or interceding overseas when democracy is threatened.

It is with this in mind that our fight goes on. Today, women earn 77 cents to a man's dollar for the same work, and the stats are even worse for women of color. Over the last few months women have been the targets of an all out War on Women at the hands of the GOP. In response to these relentless attacks, EMILY's List alums such as Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney are leading the charge for equality with the Equal Rights Amendment and the Paycheck Fairness Act. Their determination and efforts are further punctuated by the history and lessons of Independence Day.

America is not a perfect nation – it has and will continue to face many challenges and roadblocks on its path to equality. We must continue to look to the lessons of our past, harness the enduring American spirit, and strive to carry on the work of our Founding Fathers to ensure that once and for all, ALL AMERICANS truly are created equal.

Jamie Haynes is a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University in Political Communication.

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