Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Rights of Mankind -- 1868

"I can hardly believe that any person can be found who will not admit that every one of these provisions is just. They are all asserted, in some form or other, in our DECLARATION or organic law. But the Constitution limits only the action of Congress, and is not a limitation on the States. This amendment supplies that defect"--Thaddeus Stevens

Stevens was the leader of the Radical Republicans who controlled congress during the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment and as such might well be thought of as the father of our modern republic. Section one in the context of that quote above--from one of its principle framers--is unambiguous:

"Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

This was indeed the manner in which Thaddeus Stevens aspired to in life... and also after his passing. As his death approached he selected a burial place, and wrote his own epitaph accordingly:

"I repose in this quiet and secluded spot, not from any natural preference for solitude, but finding other cemeteries limited as to race, by charter rules, I have chosen this that I might illustrate in my death the principles which I advocated through a long life, equality of man before his Creator."

His last will and testament included the appropriation of $50,000 for the establishment of an orphanage, aspiring to the same just purpose:

"They shall be carefully educated in the various branches of English education and all industrial trades and pursuits. No preference shall be shown on account of race or color in their admission or treatment. Neither poor Germans, Irish or Mahometan, nor any others on account their race or religion of their parents, shall be excluded. They shall be fed at the same table."


  1. An interesting post about an inspiring individual, whom I ashamed to say I knew nothing about prior to reading your post.

  2. Me either - though I have some excuse in that I am an ENGLISH toad!

    Where are such people now, or have we bred them all out of this brave new world in which we exist? To exist is one thing, but you have to be brave to actually live, yes?

    Why is it that I wish your "About Me" said a little more about you and some of your thoughts on Life, Meaning and The Universe?

    And where is that list of books you have written - for me to buy)!