We hold these truths
to be self evident
We use this topic/category to expound on the fundamental rights that are to be protected as the legitimate function of a government. Let's start with an understanding that discussing rights is the fun part--the easy part if you will--though the first couple of times it was thought through and written down, there was nothing easy about it. Calling it easy seems to take rights for granted, and they must not be; since there are always those who do not recognize such rights, who will argue against them, and even commit violence against them in the name of principles that deny their existence. This makes understanding rights important. So, a discussion of rights seems the place to begin. The road gets steeper as we progress to how they should be preserved. Preserving rights is difficult to get right. The 18th century was a time of intense activity around the subject of rights and government in America, England, and continental Europe - particularly France. England got it right (after 800 or 900 years of social, economic, and political evolution) the United States significantly improved on their example while France started and faltered. America's revolution shook the world and produced a nation that has endured for about 240 years so far. France's revolution also shook the world, but in a different way.
Though the concept of the rights that Jefferson called "inalienable" are as old as Aristotle, the phrase 'inalienable rights' was likely first used in 1725. It is synonymous with 'natural rights' and 'God given rights'. "Inalienable" means that such rights are immutable - their existence is unconditional. They can neither be given up by the individual or removed by another. They can, of course, be violated.
(The two spellings - 'inalienable' and 'unalienable' - seem to have been interchangeable.)
This concept of such rights is the foundation of the rule of law - which is the foundation of our government. That leap from rights to understanding the correct role to be played by law is the crucial ingredient. Rule of Law is the foundation of all governments that serve the interests of their citizens. England was first to institutionalize it in a lasting way through its Common Law and Magna Carta. Then America developed it further and placed it at the center of the new government for the United States. Though both have at times strayed, these governments were set up as guardians of these fundamental rights and the people to whom they belong.
This portal is the place to assign categories and articless that present and discuss the concept of rights as it concerned colonial Americans, America's founders, and how rights are understood today.
Articles for this category
Candidate article subjects:
- The philosophical writings about rights that influenced America's founding
- Locke, Paine, others
- Papers, letters, and pamphlets in 18th century America that dealt with rights (These can also be assigned to American Independence)
- How such rights are reconciled with government?
- Burke vs. Paine (they both had good points)
- Rights as defined in our constitution and its amendments (These can also be assigned to Liberty and Constitution.)
- Other definition of 'rights' used in the American political discussion and their legitimacy.
- For example: FDR's 2nd Bill of Rights.
- ↑ Francis Hutcheson, Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue, 1725
- ↑ Hutcheson foreshadowed the Declaration of Independence, stating: “For wherever any Invasion is made upon unalienable Rights, there must arise either a perfect, or external Right to Resistance. . . . Unalienable Rights are essential Limitations in all Governments.”