Natural Rights

“Under the law of nature, all men are born free, every one comes into the world with a right to his own person, which includes the liberty of moving and using it at his own will.  This is what is called personal liberty, and is given him by the author of nature, because necessary for his own sustenance.”

~Thomas Jefferson, Legal Argument from Howell vs Netherland, April 1770

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It is somewhat amazing the great length to which debates go in our American nation about whether or not this or that group is entitled to this or that set of rights.  While our founders may not have envisioned the society we have today, they most certainly realized the profound depth of the system they were developing at the time.  The question of slavery illustrates this to the utmost; many of the Founding Fathers wanted to do away with slavery at the time of the writing of the Constitution.  But they knew they’d never be able to sell it to the people in several of the Southern states.  So they held off, but every piece of writing tells us they were confident it was not to be long in the future when those enslaved would have the same rights as everyone else.  They believed this, firmly, because they understood that their radical ideology of liberty, the bedrock of our nation and our laws, would always tend towards more rights and more freedom for everyone.

Yet, daily, we dishonor the legacy of our Founding Fathers.  One would think that in such an age of widespread information and modern marvels, we’d be more free, more respectful of one another’s rights than ever before.  Alas, even in this great nation, the city upon the hill, we still continue to publicly and vocally debate over whether certain groups of people DESERVE rights.  In this era, how can this even still be a question?  Everyone is deserving of rights and freedoms.  There is no room for debate on this matter if one looks at the fundamental basis of our nation.  Even more distressing are those that call to subjugate others and others’ rights on the basis of their own personal beliefs.  Such an idea shows the most depraved ignorance and indifference to the most basic rule of law in this land.  We were created a free people, a free country, a free land.  And that means for everyone, not just those who meet our own personal approval.  For if that is the case, than we are no better than the legions of oppression and tyranny that continue to govern throughout various parts of the globe.  Natural rights are what set us above and apart.

Res Publica

Documentation without Representation:

Thomas Jefferson, Legal Argument from Howell vs Netherland, April 1770

http://tjrs.monticello.org/letter/45

Electronic Text Courtesy of Monticello and the University of Virginia

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