Hope bloomed at the end of the Civil War that victory would prove the Declaration of Independence's statements about equality, liberty, and happiness to be far more than empty generalities. As at no time since the Revolution, the nation recognized that its tolerance of racial inequality was incompatible with the founding principles. The Constitution would need to be amended to eliminate the force of its slave-holding provisions. The Declaration would influence the dialogue of reform; it was an ancient but living manifesto with universal values, whose principle of equal inalienable rights was informed by the past as well as the wisdom of later generations.
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