Have modern Americans live up to the five ideals since expressed in the Declaration of Independence? The citizens of American have come a long ways since then and have made an enormous amount of progress of reaching the five ideals which are opportunity, liberty, rights, equality and democracy; but still have some ways to go. Throughout history since the Declaration of Independence, Americans have been seen with great improvement living up to the five Ideals; however, many instances have occurred that show that the nation has not been living up to the Five Ideals.
Since the 1700s, Americans have achieved better equality and attained and defended their natural rights as human beings, but there were times where this was not the case. Such a case is the civil rights movement. In 1963, a march happened in Birmingham, Alabama. This was a major protest lead my famous civil right leader Martin Luther King in memory of African American children and adults killed due to bombings. This was a way for African Americans to fight for equality and against segregation. During these times, racism against African Americans was extremely common in whites who held most of the power. In these times, it is shown that African Americans were not treated equal nor given same amount of rights as white thus not living up to the Ideals Equality and Rights expressed in the Declaration of Independence. Further back from the civil rights movement, challenges to equality and rights occurred in the civil war. The United States divided into two in the mid eighteen hundreds and a civil war occurred. One of the battles happened in 1863 at Fort Wagner. During this battle Black Union soldiers attacked white Confederate soldiers. The war was over disputes between the north and the south about equality and rights.
Back then, African Americans were slaves, treated as cattle and denied basic rights as human beings. So even after almost a century when the Declaration of Independence was signed, equality and rights were not fully accomplished. America has also had troubles with accomplishing fully liberty and democracy Liberty and Democracy are two pieces of the same pie that American has not fully eaten yet. For example, the Vietnam War. During this war many American soldiers died, mostly of which were drafted into the Army. The names of at least fifty eight thousand soldiers who died in the war are carved on a memorial display in Washington D.C.. Being drafted means they were forced to go against their will, and many died because of it. Many Americans were opposed to the draft and the whole war itself, but it did not matter what they thought. The soldiers who were force to go to war had no liberty, and the fact that it was out of the people’s hands meant there was no democracy. As recent as an event as this, makes it all the more clear that America has not lived up to the five ideals fully. Even more so in the Progressive Era did America falter on living up to Liberty and Democracy. During the late 19h century, industry boomed causing the cities of America to grow larger and larger.
Factories needed more and more workers so they began to hire children. These children work many hard hours in extremely poor conditions as depicted in a photograph taken by Lewis Hine in 1911. Like him, many people were outraged by such treatment of children, they wanted an end to child labor. However, they did not get what they wanted from the government easily nor quickly. These children had their liberty taken away from them, their childhoods robbed when they worked like slaves in these factories. Once the again, people could not do anything about it for years. As a democracy would have it, people should have been able change matters, since the people are supposed to hold the power. The false democracy they lived and were ruled over by prevented them from doing so. The result was children living without freedom, without liberty. Last but not least, America has struggledwith the Ideal Opportunity.America is often referred to the land of the free, home of opportunity. However this is not always the case as one might find in America.
One such case was the Great Depression. During this time of the 1930s, poverty rate hit a all time high. Millions of Americans suffered. Families lived on nothing, no food or the money to buy it. There were no jobs meaning no opportunity. Not just the opportunity of jobs was not present during this time, but the opportunity to raise a family and live happily was not there. Certainly this is not what the founding fathers had envisioned for the future. Even when opportunity was being grasped, it was also being taken away. During the late 19 century, westward expansion offered many opportunities to colonist to expand westward and make their mark. However, for as much opportunity gained, the same amount was loss for the Native Americas who were forced off their land and made to move westward on the trail of tears resulting in many of them dying. John Gast painted a picture of his in 1872. There was no opportunity for the Native Americans, their land, their whole way of life was taken from them. Their opportunity to live their life as they please was ripped from their hearts.
America still is in the making of achieving the Five Ideals in full. Many mistakes were made, but it is through these mistakes that Americans can only hope to learn from and further pave their rode down to living up to the Five Ideals. The nation has already come so far and even though there are still problems today, America truly has what it takes to accomplish these goals, faith from our founding fathers should remind the nation of that.
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