on human rights

Billmon offers some quotes for perspective:

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...

Thomas Jefferson
The Declaration of Independence

If it be a fundamental principle of free government that the Legislative, Executive and Judiciary powers should be separately exercised, it is equally so that they be independently exercised.

James Madison
Remarks to the Constitutional Convention

The American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.

James Monroe
The Monroe Doctrine

The moment you come to the Declaration of Independence -- that every man has a right to life and liberty, an inalienable right -- this case is decided. I ask nothing more in behalf of these unfortunate men, than this Declaration.

John Quincy Adams
The Amistad Case

By virtue of the power and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States and parts of States are, and henceforward shall be, free...

Abraham Lincoln
The Emancipation Proclamation

A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.

Woodrow Wilson
Fourteen Points

Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights or keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose.

Franklin D. Roosevelt
The Four Freedoms

I, Harry S. Truman, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim and make public the said Charter of the United Nations, with the Statute of the International Court of Justice annexed thereto...

Harry Truman
Proclamation of United Nations Charter

I have today issued an Executive Order directing the use of troops under Federal authority to aid in the execution of Federal law at Little Rock, Arkansas.

Dwight D. Eisenhower
Address to the Nation on the Little Rock School Desegregation Case

Next week I shall ask the Congress of the United States to act, to make a commitment it has not fully made in this century to the proposition that race has no place in American life or law.

John F. Kennedy
Report to the American People on Civil Rights

What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and State of America. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life. Their cause must be our cause too. Because it's not just Negroes, but really it's all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.

Lyndon Baines Johnson
Address to Congress on the Voting Rights Act

Because we are free we can never be indifferent to the fate of freedom elsewhere. Our moral sense dictates a clearcut preference for these societies which share with us an abiding respect for individual human rights.

Jimmy Carter
Inaugural Address

With today's signing of the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act, every man, woman and child with a disability can now pass through once closed doors, into a bright new era of equality, independence and freedom.

George Herbert Walker Bush
Americans With Disabilities Act Signing Ceremony

No President has ever done more for human rights than I have.

George W. Bush
Interview with The New Yorker magazine

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