Skip to comments.What Thomas Jefferson meant by "unalienable rights"
Posted on 12/15/2016 10:42:58 AM PST by Crucial
When Thomas Jefferson crafted the Declaration of Independence, he pointed to certain unalienable rights with which we were endowed by our Creator.
What did he mean when he wrote the phrase unalienable rights, and what rights are unalienable?
Jefferson understood unalienable rights as fixed rights given to us by our Creator rather than by government. The emphasis on our Creator is crucial, because it shows that the rights are permanent just as the Creator is permanent.
Jeffersons thought on the source of these rights was impacted by Oxfords William Blackstone, who described unalienable rights as absolute rightsshowing that they were absolute because they came from him who is absolute, and that they were, are, and always will be, because the Giver of those rightsJeffersons Creatorwas, and is, and always be.
Moreover, because we are endowed with them, the rights are inseparable from us: they are part of our humanity.
In a word, the government did not give them and therefore cannot take them away, but the government still strains at ways to suppress them.
(Excerpt) Read more at google.com ...
the word was inalienable.
To start, the words mean the same thing. “Inalienable” has gained a stronger foothold in modern times, but both appear without distinction on the Merriam-Webster Dictionary website, which defines them as signifying that which is “incapable of being alienated, surrendered, or transferred.”
The final version of the Declaration of Independence declares: 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.
But these rights werent always unalienable. In early drafts of the Declaration in the handwriting of its primary author, Thomas Jefferson, as well as another writer, John Adams our rights were inalienable. The quote as inscribed on the Jefferson Memorial in the nations capital, also says inalienable.
But the Declaration, as printed under the order of Congress, says unalienable, according to ushistory.org, a Web site of the nonprofit Independence Hall Association.
How did inalienable in early drafts turn to unalienable in the final Declaration?
Ushistory.org cites a footnote in The Declaration of Independence: A Study in the History of Political Ideas by Carl Lotus Becker, published 1922:
The Rough Draft reads [inherent &] inalienable. There is no indication that Congress changed inalienable to unalienable; but the latter form appears in the text in the rough Journal, in the corrected Journal, and in the parchment copy. John Adams, in making his copy of the Rough Draft, wrote unalienable. Adams was one of the committee which supervised the printing of the text adopted by Congress, and it may have been at his suggestion that the change was made in printing. Unalienable may have been the more customary form in the eighteenth century.
If “life,” liberty and the pursuit of happiness are “Inalienable Rights,” how can we have abortion and death penalty?
Generally, liberty is distinctly differentiated from freedom in that freedom is primarily, if not exclusively, the ability to do as one wills and what one has the power to do; whereas liberty concerns the absence of arbitrary restraints and takes into account the rights of all involved. As such, the exercise of liberty is subject to capability and limited by the rights of others.
The pursuit of happiness is defined as a fundamental right mentioned in the Declaration of Independence to freely pursue joy and live life in a way that makes you happy, as long as you don’t do anything illegal or violate the rights of others.
Wow, if you have “Liberty” and “Pursuit of Happiness” as long as you don’t do anything illegal or violate the rights of others, that leaves a pretty wide range of behaviors.
That is what was and is intended
In 1968, David Frost asked both Ronald Reagan to speak on the purpose of life. Ronald Reagan answered:
Well, of course, the biologist I suppose would say that like all breeds of animals, the basic instinct is to reproduce our kind, but I believe it’s inherent in the concept that created our country—and in the Judeo-Christian religion—that man is for individual fulfillment; for our religion is based on the idea not of any mass movement but of individual salvation. Each man must find his own salvation; I would think that our national purpose in this country—and we have lost sight of it too much in the last three decades—is to be free—to the limit possible with law and order, every man to be what God intended him to be.
What is interesting is the part in bold. Under this definition abortion and euthanasia should be illegal, as the right to life is explicitly stated in the Declaration, as that document is essentially our country's moral charter.
In support of your statement:
Jefferson used inalienable in the Declaration of Independence
Jeffersons rough draft
Both of which can be accessed through
under the heading The James Madison Papers and The Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress
The engrossed version uses unalienable
It has to emanate from the penumbra of the constitution in order to be a right.
While I 100% agree with you, the Demoncrats are claiming incorrectly that the child in the womb is not “LIFE” and therefor has no “Inalienable Rights.”
> Generally, liberty is distinctly differentiated from freedom in that freedom is primarily, if not exclusively, the ability to do as one wills and what one has the power to do; whereas liberty concerns the absence of arbitrary restraints and takes into account the rights of all involved. As such, the exercise of liberty is subject to capability and limited by the rights of others.
Liberty is freedom tempered by the requirements of humanity’s social nature.
Our Liberty is based on our unalienable rights, correct?
The problem is that the government through progressivism, is constantly trying to erode the Bill of Rights, specifically our right to bear arms, property rights and due process rights.
So what is legal doesn’t necessarily comport with our liberty or our pursuit of happiness which is only possible truly with our possessing liberty.
Keep in mind that slaves and women were not considered to be protected under the constitution.
Rights can be unalienable even if they are not endowed by God. Inalienable rights can even be created by a government! For example, before slavery was outlawed, it was at least theoretically possible to sell one’s (supposedly unalienable) liberty away and become a slave. By outlawing slavery, the Federal Government closed that loophole. Arguably, they could open it again, by amending the Constitution. So, the right of liberty is only unalienable given the Constitution as currently written.
In my opinion, grounding unalienable rights in God is a little dangerous because it might open the way for atheist citizens to lose rights or atheist government officials to take them away.
I am in the same book with you in that a “Law is a Law” and the constitution is to be interpreted as meaning what it was originally intended to mean. It is not a living document subject to change by interpretation rather than the methods for change as outlined in the document itself.
America's leaders need to read early histories of the founding of America and of the seedbed of ideas from which its Constitutional government structure arose.
"Rise of the Republic of the United States" - Richard Frothingham.
"Ideas have consequences"(Weaver).
In 2016, we must remember that the ideas of 1776 came out of a set of ideas consistent with liberty.
We tend to forget, or have never considered, that other world views existed then, as now.
Unless today's citizens rediscover the ideas of liberty existing in what Jefferson called "the American mind" of 1776, we risk going back to the "Old World" ideas which preceded the "Miracle of America."
There are those who call themselves "progressives," when, in fact, their ideas are regressive and enslaving, and as old as the history of civilization.
Would suggest to any who wish an authentic history of the ideas underlying American's founding a visit to this web site, at which Richard Frothingham's outstanding 1872 "History of the Rise of the Republic of the United States" can be read on line.
This 600+-page history traces the ideas which gave birth to the American founding. Throughout, Richard Frothingham, the historian, develops the idea that it is "the Christian idea of man" which allowed the philosophy underlying the Declaration of Independence and Constitution to become a reality--an idea which recognizes the individual and the Source of his/her "Creator"-endowed life, liberty and law.
Is there any wonder that the enemies of freedom, the so-called "progressives," do not promote such authentic histories of America? Their philosophy puts something called "the state," or "global interests" as being superior to individuals and requires a political elitist group to decide what role individuals are to play.
In other words, they must turn the Founders' ideas upside-down in order to achieve a common mediocrity for individuals and power for themselves.
Inalienable...means you can’t put a lien against your God given rights...its inalienable.
Thank you for the excellent comments...
I am always for freedom as freedom is necessary in order to grow spiritually. If you have surrendered your individual will to another person, a material thing, or to your government, you do not have power over your own will and therefor do not have the authority to surrender your will to God.
Thus, I would give my life without question in order to maintain the ability to surrender my individual will to God’s Will. The hard part on a day to day basis is to determine exactly what is God’s Will and what is a distraction pulling at my own free will.
THE absolute rights of man, considered as a free agent, endowed with discernment to know good from evil, and with power of choosing those measures which appear to him to be most desirable, are usually summed up on one general appellation, and denominated the natural liberty of mankind. This natural liberty consists properly in a power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, unless by the law of nature : being a right inherent in a us by birth, and one of the gifts of God to man at his creation, when he endued him with the faculty of freewill.
But every man, when he enters into society, gives, up a part of his natural liberty, as the price of so valuable a purchase; and, in consideration of receiving the advantages of mutual commerce, obliges himself to conform to those laws, which the community has tough proper to establish. And this species of legal obedience and conformity is infinitely more desirable, than that wild and savage liberty which is sacrificed to obtain it. For no man, that considers a moment, would wish to retain the absolute and uncontrolled power of doing whatever he pleases; the consequence of which is, that every other man would also have the same power; and then there would be no security to individuals in any of the enjoyments of life. Political therefore, or civil, liberty, which is that of a member of society, is no other than natural liberty so far restrained by human laws (and no farther) as is necessary and expedient for the general advantage of the public
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