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What Does “Created Equal” Mean?

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What Does “Created Equal” Mean?

by Milton Friedman

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Editor’s note: This essay is an excerpt of the new Hoover Press book Milton Friedman on Freedom, edited by Robert Leeson and Charles G. Palm. This essay by Friedman originally appeared in the book Free to Choose: A Personal Statement.

“Equality, liberty”—what precisely do these words from the Declaration of Independence mean? Can the ideals they express be realized in practice? Are equality and liberty consistent one with the other or are they in conflict?

Since well before the Declaration of Independence, these questions have played a central role in the history of the United States. The attempt to answer them has shaped the intellectual climate of opinion, led to bloody wars, and produced major changes in economic and political institutions. This attempt continues to dominate our political debate. It will shape our future as it has our past.

In the early decades of the Republic, equality meant equality before God; liberty meant the liberty to shape one’s own life. The obvious conflict between the Declaration of Independence and the institution of slavery occupied the center of the stage. That conflict was finally resolved by the Civil War.  :snip: 

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