The two most important words in the Declaration of Independence

“among these”

No, I’m not crazy, just bear with me for a moment.

We all know that modern governments are comprised almost entirely of power-hungry statists.  We know that when a new law is considered, there is zero obligation for the government to justify why it has the power to enact this law, but rather, the obligation rests entirely on the public to attempt to prove why it does not (and even then, they usually just ignore it).  When you speak to a non-libertarian about “natural law” they usually look at you as if you told them you had been abducted by aliens.

On the fourth of July, a lot of attention is paid to the Declaration of Independence, and for good reason.  It is essentially the founding document of our country.  The entire philosophy behind the American experiment can be summed up in the most famous sentence:

“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.”

There are a lot of significant aspects of that sentence that are largely ignored by the government today.  Most neocons will concentrate on the “by their Creator” aspect, which is important to be sure.  But I would suggest that the most important two words are “among these.”

The use of the words “among these” rather than “and they are” or “which are” or something like that clearly states that our God-given rights are not limited to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Those aren’t our only unalienable rights, they are just a few examples of them.  This is where natural law comes into play.  The right to private property, for instance, is a natural right, despite not appearing in the declaration of independence (or explicitly in the constitution, for that matter).  At the time, the founders were obviously relying on the common sense of the American people to understand that a document listing all of your rights would be ridiculous and unnecessary.  You see this in the constitution as well, which specifically includes the ninth amendment, which states:  “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”  Unfortunately, this amendment is typically ignored by the statists in power today.  If only the founders knew what was coming, they might have taken the extra time to explicitly list every imaginable right and explicitly forbid the government from abridging them.  Although, if the second amendment is any indication, that really wouldn’t stop them at all.

To summarize:  The use of the words “among these” in the Declaration of Independence clearly indicates that the founders were making no attempt to limit the scope of natural rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” but rather were just providing examples of some of our natural rights.

About Dude Where's My Freedom?

My name's Matt and I love Freedom.
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