Creating the Declaration of Independence

All Men are Created Equal

The concept that all men are created equal was a key to European Enlightenment philosophy. But the interpretation of "all men" has hovered over the Declaration of Independence since its creation. Although most people have interpreted "all men" to mean humanity, others have argued that Jefferson and the other authors of the Declaration meant to exclude women and children. Within the context of the times it is clear that "all men" was a euphemism for "humanity," and thus those people, such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, who used the Declaration of Independence to demand equality for African Americans and women seized the historical as well as the moral high ground. Where did this idea come from? »

Rough Draft of the Declaration of Independence, All Men are Created Equal section

We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable self-evident; that all men are created equal & independent