Equal opportunity represents the legal and economic conditions under which people with widely disparate backgrounds have an equal chance at success.
- A heavy progressive tax upon a very large fortune is in no way such a tax upon thrift or industry as a like would be on a small fortune. No advantage comes either to the country as a whole or to the individuals inheriting the money by permitting the transmission in their entirety of the enormous fortunes which would be affected by such a tax; and as an incident to its function of revenue raising, such a tax would help to preserve a measurable equality of opportunity for the people.
- Theodore Roosevelt, Seventh annual message to the US Senate and House of Representatives, 3 December 1907
- EQUAL OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL.... Nature is no respecter of birth or money power when she lavishes her mental and physical gifts. We fight God when our Social System dooms the brilliant clever child of a poor man to the same level as his father.
- I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions. This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dream — a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few; a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man's skin determines the content of his character; a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone, but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity; the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of the human personality.
- In all sectors of society there should be roughly equal prospects of culture and achievement for everyone similarly motivated and endowed. The expectations of those with the same abilities and aspirations should not be affected by their social class.
- The Republican Party is part of a larger American discussion about the tension between equality of opportunity and protection of property. ... Republicans began with the idea that they would be the political arm of the Declaration of Independence's equality of opportunity. Throughout their history, three times now, they have swung from that pole through a sort of racist and xenophobic backlash against that principle, tied themselves to big business, and come out protecting the other American principle, which is the protection of property.
- Abraham Lincoln and others recoiled from the idea of government as a prop for the rich. In organizing the Republican Party, they highlighted the equality of opportunity promised in the Declaration of Independence and warned that a healthy economy depended on widespread prosperity. Northerners and hardscrabble westerners flocked to that vision, and elected Lincoln to the White House in 1860.