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THOSE UNALIENABLE RIGHTS
Fiedor Report On the News #303 ^ | 2-23-03 | Doug Fiedor

Posted on 02/22/2003 10:39:59 AM PST by forest

When he wrote the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson took a little editorial liberty with the phrase "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Consequently, if we modern Americans are to fully understand our own personal rights and liberties, this requires a little explanation.

Back in the days of the Founding Fathers, every family was said to have two well studied books in their library. The most important best seller around 1775, of course, was "The Bible." The second best seller in the Colonies was "Blackstone's Commentaries on The Law," then a new three volume set on English common law.

For the Founding Fathers, "Blackstone's Commentaries" was the law book of the day. Of course, the writings of John Locke and others were freely quoted too. But, they were theory. "Blackstone's" was an accurately written description of our Common Law. Since then, "Blackstone's Commentaries" has been used for over two-hundred years in every English speaking law school in the world. Even today, a well read copy of "Blackstone's" can be found in any American law library.

Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Benjamin Franklin all studied "Blackstone's" at length, as did all of the Founders. That is very obvious in their writings. They quote and paraphrase the text extensively.

So, it is no surprise that the phrase written by Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence originated in Chapter One of Book One of Blackstone's, titled "Absolute Rights of Individuals." Blackstone describes the absolute rights of individuals as being our right to life, liberty and property. Jefferson took the editorial liberty of changing "property" to "pursuit of happiness," knowing full well that all Colonial Americans would understand exactly what was meant.

It is us, today's Americans, who seem to have a problem with that meaning. We Americans have lost the concept of true freedom because we no longer know exactly what our rights are. In today's United States, the word "rights" has been corrupted so completely that few Americans any longer know the difference between the terms procedural rights and civil rights, and our unalienable rights and liberties. However, the basics can be learned in less than a minute, so let's examine a little of Blackstone's original text.

Sir William Blackstone defines our absolute rights as "those which are so in their primary and strictest sense; such as would belong to their persons merely in a state of nature, and which every man is entitled to enjoy, whether out of society or in it." These rights have also been called natural rights by some.

Blackstone then breaks these rights down into three basic categories:

LIFE -- The Right of Personal Security: "This right consists of a person's legal and uninterrupted enjoyment of his life, his limbs, his body, his health and his reputation." Herein can also be found your right of self defense.

LIBERTY -- The Right of Personal Liberty: "This consists in the power of locomotion, of changing situation, of moving one's person to whatever place one's own inclination may direct, without imprisonment or restraint, unless by course of law." We find this right protected, to a limited extent, within the body of our Constitution, and further guaranteed within the Bill of Rights.

PROPERTY -- The Right of Private Property: "This is the third absolute right, and consists in the free use, enjoyment and disposal by a man of all his acquisitions, without any control or diminution, save only by the laws of the land."

Our Founding Fathers called these absolute rights "unalienable" -- incapable of being given up, taken away, or transferred to another. In Jefferson's first draft of The Declaration of Independence, the word was conventionally spelled inalienable.

However, the newspaper editor among them, Benjamin Franklin, thought unalienable sounded stronger. And, as they say, the rest is history.

Thus, the protection of Life, Liberty and Property -- our natural, absolute and unalienable rights -- became the underlying reason our country was formed.

There is, of course, a caveat here: As members of society, we are also required to respect these rights in all others. Therefore, the most important reason we empower governments to make and enforce laws is to insure that everyone respects the rights of others.

Towards this end, the body of our Constitution was carefully crafted by the Founding Fathers to allow the central government only certain enumerated powers. Although it may not seem like it today -- with our hundreds of thousands of pages of imposing laws, rules and regulations -- the powers of the federal government were designed to be few, and the freedoms of citizens were intended to be many.

Because of the lack of vigilance on the part of the American public, this ratio of government powers to personal freedom has recently reversed. We can probably recoup many of our unalienable rights again. But folks, it's going to take some effort from all of us. Bureaucrats are not about to relinquish their control over us without a lot of kicking and screaming.

   

 END


TOPICS: Activism/Chapters; Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: absoluterights; benfranklin; bible; blackstone; decofinde; happiness; johnlocke; liberty; life; property; tomjeffersonetal; unvsin
"The Bible" and "Blackstone's Commentaries on The Law" were best sellers in Colonial times. In the Declaration of Independence Jefferson borrowed from "Absolute Rights of Individuals" which Blackstone describes as being our right to life, liberty and property. Jefferson took the editorial liberty of changing "property" to "pursuit of happiness," knowing full well that all Colonial Americans would understand exactly what was meant.

We Americans have lost the concept of true freedom because we no longer know exactly what our rights are.

The protection of Life, Liberty and Property -- our natural, absolute and unalienable rights -- became the underlying reason our country was formed. But we must constantly defend them.

The central government was designed to be minimal.

1 posted on 02/22/2003 10:40:01 AM PST by forest
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To: forest
Our Founding Fathers called these absolute rights "unalienable" -- incapable of being given up, taken away, or transferred to another.

That is very important. Many people flat out refuse to understand this. They want to believe that these rights can be given up, taken way or transferred to another by a majority vote, or because some law making body says so. And some want to use the "States Rights" argument to support their claim. Unfortunately, this principle applies to all levels of government.

2 posted on 02/22/2003 10:46:35 AM PST by FreeTally
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To: forest
Jefferson didn't change "property" to "pursuit of happiness", Ben Franklin did.
3 posted on 02/22/2003 10:52:37 AM PST by freedomcrusader
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To: FreeTally
And some want to use the "States Rights" argument to support their claim.

Yes. Unfortunately this was the instrument to enslave blacks and later protect "Jim Crow" laws. Too bad. "States Rights" could have been an excellent tool to keep the Federal Gov't. in check.

4 posted on 02/22/2003 11:05:37 AM PST by elbucko
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To: forest
And then came the War On Terror........in perpetuity
5 posted on 02/22/2003 11:15:23 AM PST by joesnuffy
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To: forest; 4ConservativeJustices; billbears
the protection of Life, Liberty and Property -- our natural, absolute and unalienable rights -- became the underlying reason our country was formed

Those ARE our GOD-given rights, given to this nation to free the world. America has a reason it exists.

6 posted on 02/22/2003 11:51:46 AM PST by Ff--150 (My God shall supply all your need)
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To: elbucko
As far as I understand it, there has never been any such thing as "state's rights".
Only people have rights and states (or States) have powers. Take a read of the Constitution and you will not see a mention of rights held by government, only powers.
7 posted on 02/22/2003 12:05:45 PM PST by Abcdefg
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To: freedomcrusader
Jefferson didn't change "property" to "pursuit of happiness", Ben Franklin did.

You beat me to it. Jefferson was so incensed by the changes the committees implemented, that when he wrote copies of the final version of the DoI, he wrote his original draft, with all the additions/corrections included.

8 posted on 02/22/2003 12:10:39 PM PST by 4CJ (Be nice to liberals, medicate them to the point of unconsciousness.)
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To: Ff--150
Those ARE our GOD-given rights, given to this nation to free the world. America has a reason it exists.

Of course! And those rights are protected by the Constitution, or they were, until the courts upheld the right of illegtimate confiscation (my county earns a staggering sum from "seizures"). And I question how free we can be, with a US code that would take a lifetime to read and understand.

9 posted on 02/22/2003 12:21:04 PM PST by 4CJ (Be nice to liberals, medicate them to the point of unconsciousness.)
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To: joesnuffy
And then came the War On Terror........in perpetuity So how would you handle the threat of terrorism? Inquiring minds want to know.
10 posted on 02/22/2003 2:57:17 PM PST by Robert DeLong
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To: Abcdefg
As far as I understand it, there has never been any such thing as "state's rights". Only people have rights and states (or States) have powers. Take a read of the Constitution and you will not see a mention of rights held by government, only powers.

Webster's current definition of the word "right" includes "something that is due anybody by legal claim". So by definition, all rights are not unalienable. Also, all unalienable rights are not due by legal claim.

Anyway, using current defintions, the term "states rights" is correct.

11 posted on 02/22/2003 3:41:25 PM PST by FreeReign
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To: All
"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."

Of course, the Declaration of Independence does say this. But one must ask are men truly created equal? And if they are only equal before God and the Law but not as too innate heritable ability then does this not imply the Declaration has made a simple, empirical falsehood in claiming equality?

Of course they had Bibles. But God has been worshipped for thousands of years without anyone finding a political system that guaranteed unalienable political rights. The Bible, I remind you, does not mention Lockian social contracts or democracy. Indeed, I am looking forward to the Kindom of God.

America is a nation. The preamble to the Declaration of Independence is not law. The Constitution of the United States is law. Office holders, including military officers, swear an allegiance to the Constitution not the ideals of the Declaration.

IMHO, America is only half ideologically driven. The other half is a people with a history before the Declaration and a history until such time as God decides. The type of our government evolved out of our experience and the experience of generations past (including Great Britain)and is only a part of our endowment that includes religious, ethical, historical and unrecorded experiences as a people.

In a word, I don't think we are an ideology but a nation; hence, it does not surprise me that other nations have great difficulty accepting both or values and political system.

12 posted on 02/22/2003 4:32:02 PM PST by shrinkermd
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To: forest
Back in the days of the Founding Fathers, every family was said to have two well studied books in their library. The most important best seller around 1775, of course, was "The Bible." The second best seller in the Colonies was "Blackstone's Commentaries on The Law," then a new three volume set on English common law.

That kind of explains it all.

13 posted on 02/22/2003 4:58:57 PM PST by waterstraat
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To: shrinkermd
Of course, the Declaration of Independence does say this. But one must ask are men truly created equal? And if they are only equal before God and the Law but not as too innate heritable ability then does this not imply the Declaration has made a simple, empirical falsehood in claiming equality?

The context of "all men are created equal" in the Declaration was unalienable rights. Heritable ability is not an unalienable right.

14 posted on 02/22/2003 5:05:17 PM PST by FreeReign
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To: Roscoe; yall
LIFE -- The Right of Personal Security: "This right consists of a person's legal and uninterrupted enjoyment of his life, his limbs, his body, his health and his reputation." Herein can also be found your right of self defense.

LIBERTY -- The Right of Personal Liberty: "This consists in the power of locomotion, of changing situation, of moving one's person to whatever place one's own inclination may direct, without imprisonment or restraint, unless by course of law." We find this right protected, to a limited extent, within the body of our Constitution, and further guaranteed within the Bill of Rights.

PROPERTY -- The Right of Private Property: "This is the third absolute right, and consists in the free use, enjoyment and disposal by a man of all his acquisitions, without any control or diminution, save only by the laws of the land."

------- "Bureaucrats are not about to relinquish their control over us without a lot of kicking and screaming."
__________________________________
   

Lets ask FR's head bureaucratic expert, roscoe, -- how long he thinks it may take before sanity is restored..

Roscoe? -- Do you think there is any chance your peers will ~ever~ come to their senses?
15 posted on 02/22/2003 5:33:28 PM PST by tpaine
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To: Abcdefg
Only people have rights and states (or States) have powers.

Really?

"Every man, and every body of men on earth, possesses the right of self-government. They receive it with their being from the hand of nature. Individuals exercise it by their single will; collections of men by that of their majority; for the law of the majority is the natural law of every society of men." --Thomas Jefferson

"That every power vested in a government is in its nature sovereign, and includes, by force of the term, a right to employ all the means requisite and fairly applicable to the attainment of the ends of such power, and which are not precluded by restrictions and exceptions specified in the Constitution, or not immoral, or not contrary to the essential ends of political society." -- Alexander Hamilton

"But the constitution of the United States has not left the right of Congress to employ the necessary means, for the execution of the powers conferred on the government, to general reasoning. To its enumeration of powers is added that of making 'all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this constitution, in the government of the United States, or in any department thereof.' " -- United States Supreme Court, McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)

I guess someone forgot to tell the Founding Fathers.

16 posted on 02/22/2003 5:48:51 PM PST by Roscoe
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To: 4ConservativeJustices
"And I question how free we can be, with a US code that would take a lifetime to read and understand."

In short, we can never be free with such a code because even if you could read it you could never in ten lifetimes understand it. A complete search and cross reference would probably reveal that certain laws cannot be obeyed without violating other laws, such a code makes a mockery of the word freedom. As I have said before it is only the sheer impossibility of fully enforcing the laws that allows the illusion of freedom to persist.
17 posted on 02/22/2003 5:49:52 PM PST by RipSawyer
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Our rights to "life, liberty and property" are mentioned twice in the constitution, in both instances followed by the modifying line, -- "without due process of law."

The first reference, in the 5th amendment, is in straight-foward regard to rights under criminal law. - The 14ths however, must be read with an understanding of its purpose at the time of its ratification.
Southern states were violating ALL of the BOR's in the treatment of former slaves.
- Thus the clause:

--" nor shall any state deprive any person of,
LIFE [-- The Right of Personal Security: "This right consists of a person's legal and uninterrupted enjoyment of his life, his limbs, his body, his health and his reputation." Herein can also be found your right of self defense.]
LIBERTY [-- The Right of Personal Liberty: "This consists in the power of locomotion, of changing situation, of moving one's person to whatever place one's own inclination may direct, without imprisonment or restraint, unless by course of law." We find this right protected, to a limited extent, within the body of our Constitution, and further guaranteed within the Bill of Rights.]
or PROPERTY [-- The Right of Private Property: "This is the third absolute right, and consists in the free use, enjoyment and disposal by a man of all his acquisitions, without any control or diminution, save only by the laws of the land."],

without due process of [constitutional] law.
18 posted on 02/22/2003 6:40:59 PM PST by tpaine
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To: Roscoe
"Only people have rights and states (or States) have powers."


Really?
I guess someone forgot to tell the Founding Fathers.
-roscoe-

Yea, 'really' roscoe.
- "Majority rules" only works for law that first complies with our basic constitutional rights.
As luck would have it, there weren't any of your bureaucratic peers around to otherwise corrupt the founders.
19 posted on 02/22/2003 6:53:26 PM PST by tpaine
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To: tpaine
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/849442/posts?page=16#16
20 posted on 02/22/2003 6:57:14 PM PST by Roscoe
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To: Roscoe
Spam.
You just posted those out of context quotes.
21 posted on 02/22/2003 6:59:57 PM PST by tpaine
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To: tpaine
"Each house of Congress possesses this natural right of governing itself, and consequently of fixing it's own times and places of meeting, so far as it has not been abridged by the law of those who employ them, that is to say, by the Constitution." -- Thomas Jefferson

Endless empty assertions, never a source.

22 posted on 02/22/2003 7:03:20 PM PST by Roscoe
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To: Roscoe
Hey, you keep pretending that you made a point, -- and I'll keep laughing at your nonsense. - Deal?
23 posted on 02/22/2003 7:06:31 PM PST by tpaine
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To: tpaine
The Founding Fathers explicitly recognized that governments have rights.

Their statements stand unrefuted.

Naturally.

24 posted on 02/22/2003 7:12:34 PM PST by Roscoe
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To: forest
Back in the days of the Founding Fathers, every family was said to have two well studied books in their library. The most important best seller around 1775, of course, was "The Bible." The second best seller in the Colonies was "Blackstone's Commentaries on The Law,"

In other words, God's Law and the People's Law.

-PJ

25 posted on 02/22/2003 7:15:02 PM PST by Political Junkie Too
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To: forest
Ask most Americans where their rights come from and they will say "from the constitution" or "from the government". Its sad but true.
26 posted on 02/22/2003 7:19:34 PM PST by Straight Vermonter (I don't believe in hyphenating Americans)
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To: Roscoe
The Founding Fathers explicitly recognized that governments have "rights"

If bureaucratic word games over word definitions make you happy roscoe, please, - do continue.
27 posted on 02/22/2003 7:21:08 PM PST by tpaine
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To: tpaine
Facts versus question begging.

"It has been frequently held by this court that the grant of citizenship is not inconsistent with the right of Congress to continue to exercise this authority by legislation deemed adequate to that end." -- United States Supreme Court, BRADER V. JAMES, 246 U.S. 88 (1918)

28 posted on 02/22/2003 7:22:56 PM PST by Roscoe
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To: Roscoe
Word game spam.

There are 38 different referals to the word "right" in my desk thesaurus.
29 posted on 02/22/2003 7:29:43 PM PST by tpaine
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To: tpaine
And what thesaurus were Jefferson and Hamilton using?
30 posted on 02/22/2003 7:33:11 PM PST by Roscoe
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To: Roscoe
Thesaurus? - Beats me roscoe.
- Back to our original question:

------- "Bureaucrats are not about to relinquish their control over us without a lot of kicking and screaming." -the author-
__________________________________
   

Lets ask FR's head bureaucratic expert, roscoe, -- how long he thinks it may take before sanity is restored..

Roscoe? -- Do you think there is any chance your peers will ~ever~ come to their senses?

[You never did answer]
31 posted on 02/22/2003 7:42:06 PM PST by tpaine
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To: tpaine
sanity

Open borders and legalized crack? Hardly.

32 posted on 02/22/2003 7:59:19 PM PST by Roscoe
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