In what ways are Jefferson, Stanton, Truth, and Douglass asking for better leadership? What can we learn from the substance and the language of their demands? Be specific, and ground your answers in the text of each document. Word count: 600-750.
Dr. Stephanie M. Scott
April 15, 2023
Week 5 Essay
An organization’s ability to grow and evolve depends on whom we give a seat in the boardroom or whose opinions we give merit. The evolution of whom we give civil liberties demonstrates the relevance of John Stuart Mill’s point that “the “people” who exercise power are not always the same people as those over whom it is exercised.” Aspiring leaders can learn to welcome differing opinions as a chance to improve and realize truths that might not have come to the surface had the opinion not been discussed (Mill, 2023).
In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson asks for better leadership by listing how the King of Great Britain has overreached his power. Jefferson’s declaration is rooted in the principles of pluralism and liberalism as he declares that the King’s infringement upon men’s inalienable rights threatens everyone. He calls for swift and robust action to protect the public from living under a tyrannical ruler. Jefferson clarifies the necessity of this measure by pointing to the extraordinary circumstances the public faces, reiterating how we should only abolish long-standing governments in extreme cases. Jefferson builds his case on the platform that all men have inalienable rights, and the King is encroaching on these rights through his many cases of abuse of power. Jefferson calls for better leadership by listing what not to do (Jefferson, 2023).
Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s Declaration of Sentiments echoes most of Jefferson’s assertions but calls for a revision to the universalistic assertion “that all men are created equal” to say instead, “all men and women are created equal.” Stanton proves her point with examples of men establishing “an absolute tyranny over her.” She asserts the argument that women live under the tyranny of men by pointing to the facts and laws that establish inequality. Stanton’s declaration mirrors the language of Jefferson’s but demands leadership to recognize women as equal to men. Stanton argues for participative management by granting women the right to vote already granted to men. Stanton asserts that women must comply with laws “in the formation of which she had no voice” (Stanton, 2023, p2). Identifying the parallels between the British monarchy and the patriarchy established makes Stanton’s demand for participative leadership all the more compelling.
In her speech, Sojourner Truth asserts that men and women are equal, as black women face different expectations than white women, often performing the labor expected of white men. Writing, “I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman?” Truth uses an example of the inhumane treatment she faces from slavery as proof of the equal capabilities of women to men. Truth’s strong language and use of logic to prove the inconsistencies make her passionate plea for equality and participative government impossible to ignore.
Finally, in his 4th of July speech, Frederick Douglas eloquently explains the different relation the enslaved person has with the holiday. Douglas highlights how it is a painful reminder of their exclusion from the inalienable rights cited in the Declaration of Independence. Douglas adheres to pluralism by acknowledging what the founding fathers accomplished in that time, saying, “The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration.” Douglas demonstrates an attempt to empathetically understand the society which existed at the time but does not excuse the behavior. Douglas uses his speech as an opportunity to ask his audience to consider the hypocrisy of the Declaration of Independence in a country that embraces slavery.
The writings of Thomas Jefferson, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, and Frederick Douglas demand participative leadership. Jefferson highlights the negative consequences of living under a tyrannical king and calls for democratic governance. Stanton asks for better leadership by giving women the same rights guaranteed to white men. Truth builds on the argument for women’s rights in her speech and asks why those rights do not apply to black women. Finally, Douglas explains why the 4th of July is not a day of celebration for those not granted the liberties demanded in Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence.
The critical lesson from these writings and speeches is the power of participatory management. History shows that our most extraordinary progress as a society came from someone challenging the status quo with a differing opinion. We only grew from these individuals questioning conventional wisdom and from more people having a seat at the table.
Douglas, F. (n.d.). Africans in America/part 4/Frederick Douglass Speech. PBS. Retrieved April 16, 2023, from https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h2927t.html
Jefferson, T. (2023, January 31). Declaration of Independence: A transcription. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved April 16, 2023, from https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript
Mill, J. S. (2023). On Liberty. E-BOOKARAMA.
Stanton, E. C. (2023, February 7). Declaration of sentiments. National Parks Service. Retrieved April 16, 2023, from https://www.nps.gov/wori/learn/historyculture/declaration-of-sentiments.htm
Truth, S. (n.d.). Speech entitled “Ain’t I a woman?” – the hermitage. The Hermitage. Retrieved April 16, 2023, from https://thehermitage.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Sojourner-Truth_Aint-I-a-Woman_1851.pdf