Why did the authors of the Declaration of Independence fail to address the rights of women, African Americans, and Native Americans in the document?

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The short answer to this question is that none of these groups of people were considered to have the same rights as affluent white men in the new nation of the United States.

Women, for instance, although they were considered citizens, were completely excluded from political activities. They were expected...

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The short answer to this question is that none of these groups of people were considered to have the same rights as affluent white men in the new nation of the United States.

Women, for instance, although they were considered citizens, were completely excluded from political activities. They were expected to be subservient to their husbands, perform difficult domestic labor around the home, and bear and raise children. As an example of attitudes prevailing at the time, Abigail Adams wrote her husband John Adams when he was helping to compose the U.S. Constitution and asked him to "remember the ladies" and "do not put such unlimited power in the hands of the husbands." Adams replied that "we know better than to repeal our masculine systems." Abigail wrote back that "whilst you are proclaiming peace and good will to men, emancipating all nations, you insist upon retaining an absolute power over wives." Women did not manage to obtain the right to vote until 1920, 144 years after the Declaration of Independence was written.

As for African Americans, some in the fledgling nation were free men, but most were still trapped in the oppressive system of slavery, and many of the so-called founding fathers owned slaves. For instance, Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the final draft of the Declaration of Independence, owned over 600 slaves during the course of his life. When he died, over 130 of the slaves he owned were sold to pay his debts. The writers of the Constitution did not even consider slaves to be worthy of being counted in the census as whole men. Instead, they made a provision that slaves should be counted for census purposes as three-fifths of a man. African Americans did not gain U.S. citizenship until after the Civil War when the 14th amendment to the Constitution was passed in 1868.

In 1776, Native Americans were not considered part of the new country of the United States. The federal government was slow to grant citizenship to Native Americans. In 1888, some Native American women married to white people received citizenship. In 1919, Native Americans who fought in World War I received citizenship. It was not until 1924, when the Indian Citizenship Act was passed, that all Native Americans born in the United States became citizens.

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