"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
- Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
"O ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose not only the tyranny but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been hunted round the globe. Asia and Africa have long expelled her.... O receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind!"
- Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1775
"....it has been the wise policy of these states to extend the protection of their laws to all those who should settle among them, of whatever nation or religion they might be, and to admit them to a participation of the benefits of civil and religious freedom... the benevolence of this practice, as well as its salutary effects, have rendered it worthy of being continued in future times."
- August 14, 1776, Continental Congress
"I had always hoped that this land might become a safe and agreeable Asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might beong...."
- George Washington, May 28, 1788
"The blessed Religion revealed in the word of God will remain an eternal and awful monument to prove that the best Institutions may be abused by human depravity; and that they may even, in some instances be made subservient to the vilest purposes. Should, hereafter, those who are entrusted with the management of this government, incited by the lust of power and prompted by the Supineness or venality of their Constituents, overleap the known barriers of this Constitution and violate the unalienable rights of humanity: it will only serve to shew, that no compact among men (however provident in its construction and sacred in its ratification) can be pronounced everlasting and inviolable, and if I may so express myself, that no Wall of words, that no mound of parchment can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the one side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other."
- George Washington, 1796
"[The authors of the Declaration of Independence] meant to set up a standard for free men which should be familiar to all and revered by all, constantly looked to and constantly labored for, and even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people of all colors everywhere."
- Abraham Lincoln, 1857