Published July 3, 2020
It is true that these words were often honored in their breach in the nation’s early years. Black people were enslaved in much of the land and were often unable to vote, even when free. Women were denied the right to vote or own property in their name, if married, for much of the 19th century. Discrimination against religious minorities, such as Catholics and Jews, and against racial minorities such as Asians, was widespread. Native Americans were systematically pushed out of their land and largely confined to reservations against their will. It’s not surprising that these facts have led some to allege that America’s foundational principle was the supremacy of white, Protestant, property-owning men.
Henry Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.