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Life of Thomas Paine. An Address to Men of Science. Radical natural-law theorists, and especially Locke, whose work formed the basis of the political philosophy contained in the Declaration, held that the ends of civil government limited the extent of political authority.
Life of Thomas Paine Written Purposely to Bind with His Writings
When men consented to the creation of that authority, they transferred only those original rights as were necessary to achieve those specific ends. The functions of governments are clearly stipulated. The end of government is neither to maximize happiness nor to ensure that men attain happiness, but to provide the framework in which each person may pursue his own happiness as he individually sees fit. It is no less a distortion of the philosophy underlying the Declaration to claim that when Jefferson stipulated a right to pursue happiness, his purpose was that of asserting a scientific law, that all men cannot help but pursue happiness.
Mason wrote:. All men are born equally free and independant, and have certain inherent Rights, of which they cannot, by any Compact, deprive or divest their Posterity; among which are the Enjoyment of Life and Liberty, with the Means of acquiring and possessing Property, and pursuing and obtaining Happiness and Safety. Thus, Vernon L. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities. This sentiment epitomizes the philosophy that Jefferson had affirmed in the Declaration.
The War of had been raging two years when peace negotiations between the belligerents
The critical portion of the preamble, as Jefferson originally wrote it, reads. Boyd has calculated that the Rough Draft, as finally submitted, contained forty-seven alterations. Some of these were of no importance, such as the deletion of a partially written word, while others were made for what appear to be purely stylistic purposes. In addition, Jefferson supplemented his bill of indictment against the Crown by appending three new charges.
This discussion of rights and the Declaration need not linger on the list of grievances, which constitutes the major portion of the Declaration. It should be noted, however, that the charges specified in the document were leveled not against the Parliament of Great Britain, but against the Crown. The American conception of the constitutional status of the colonies within the British empire viewed them as linked to Great Britain only in the sense that they acknowledged a common monarch. By mid, this view had become commonplace among Americans. There is a body of scholarly opinion that minimizes the centrality and importance of the Declaration and contends that the claims made by the American colonists in their controversies with Great Britain were consistently framed in the language of English rights and that arguments based on the authority of natural law were irrelevant to the debate.
Indeed, Reid himself offers several examples in which the colonial position is couched in terms that are unambiguously grounded on the law of nature. That those absolute rights we are entitled to as men, by the immutable Laws of Nature, are antecedent to all social and relative duties whatsoever. Finally, the language of the Declaration of Independence would seem to offer overwhelming evidence of the pervasiveness of the Lockean notion of rights among the colonists. I have already indicated that the constraints of space prevent detailed discussion of the grievances contained in the Declaration.
Sometime in late May or early June Jefferson had written a draft of a proposed constitution for Virginia, the preamble to which enumerated a series of injuries suffered by the colonies at the hands of the British Crown.