Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of... Property

Celebrate Freedom is about helping people understand property rights, and how property rights are part of the essence of Freedom in America.

Thomas Jefferson, the author of our nation’s famous Declaration of Independence, was an extremely educated politician for his day. His use of the phrase, ‘life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness’ has been often compared to a similar clause used by his predecessor, John Locke of England, namely the phrase:  ‘life, liberty & property.’

We know as a fact that Locke wrote prolifically regarding the place of government and the relationship of the citizen to his king. With regard to property, Locke felt it important that government acknowledge its responsibility to protect private ownership of property.

Additionally, scholars have acknowledged that Benjamin Franklin held influence over Jefferson when the Declaration of Independence was penned, convincing him that ‘happiness’ was more appropriate language than ‘property’, thus Locke’s phrase ‘life, liberty & property’ was replaced with ‘life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness.’

It is without question today that Locke’s principles filtered into the fabric of government despite Franklin’s influence. The Virginia Constitution even quotes Locke verbatim. And all parties familiar with the typical title registration process for every county in the union reflects the goal of protecting private ownership of property, especially real property.

Thanks to John Locke for a lasting principle for the Celebration of Freedom.

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