How has America progressed in regards to government, society, and civil rights?

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Most following the news today consider America to have an imperfect record in the area of civil rights. That being said, the United States government and its citizens have taken great strides forward since the nation's founding.

In 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, stating the United States'...

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Most following the news today consider America to have an imperfect record in the area of civil rights. That being said, the United States government and its citizens have taken great strides forward since the nation's founding.

In 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, stating the United States' desire to break free from Great Britain and form a new nation. In this document, Jefferson utilized Enlightenment ideals put forward by Jean Jacques Rousseau to further human rights: "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." That single statement, "that all men are created equal," was a radical philosophical departure from dominant thinking at the time, which held that governing power came from God. Here, Jefferson made a powerful statement about who has the right to govern—all men!

While it made for a significant bit of philosophy, equality for all did not immediately come to pass. For example, the Constitution did not recognize African Americans as people and southern states maintained slavery. After the Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment required that all Americans be treated equally under the law. However, women in the US were not granted the right to vote until the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920. The 1960s was another major era for the advancement of civil rights. African Americans fought against segregation, women fought against discrimination in schools, the disabled fought for necessary services, and Mexican Americans fought for safe working conditions.

For many Americans today, the struggle for civil rights continues. Many see injustices against people of color as pervasive in American society, pointing to disproportionate rates of incarceration, poverty, and police brutality. Many still fight for schools and professional spaces to be free of sexual harassment and assault. Many still fight for the rights of immigrants to come to the US and earn a living wage.

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