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Self-Evident TruthsContesting Equal Rights from the Revolution to the Civil War$
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Richard D. Brown

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780300197112

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300197112.001.0001

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Equal Rights, Privilege, and the Pursuit of Inequality

Equal Rights, Privilege, and the Pursuit of Inequality

Chapter:
(p.297) Eight Equal Rights, Privilege, and the Pursuit of Inequality
Source:
Self-Evident Truths
Author(s):

Richard D. Brown

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300197112.003.0008

While cherishing ideas of equal rights and equality, Americans have simultaneously sought inequality. The Revolution of 1776 committed Americans to the idea of equal rights, but just as fundamentally it dedicated the United States to the protection and increase of individual property and the power to direct it to heirs. Although equal rights and individual property rights have proved compatible with religious and ethnic equality, social and economic inequality, both meritocratic and inherited, have been integral to the American social and political order. Moreover, based on the emerging biologies of race and sex, the idea of equal rights for people of color and for women faced new barriers in nineteenth-century America and beyond into the twenty-first century.

Keywords:   property, inheritance, slavery, race, nationality

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