08 July 2016

"To Secure These Rights"

After Jefferson asserted the equality of human beings in their possession of natural rights, he turned to other self evident truths on why men form governments and why men dissolve them.



“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”


In a state of nature without government, men possess their natural rights precariously. They possess claim rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness against interference from all other men. Not all men, however, respect the natural rights of others. Men are vulnerable to threats from others to their lives and property. Consequently, men form governments to protect those rights. Of their own consent, they empower those governments with whatever means they deem necessary to protect those rights.


Moreover, men have the right to dissolve their governments. Not all men honor the rights claims of others; not all governments fulfill their proper purpose to protect those rights. When governments fail to protect rights, the people can replace that government with another one that will.


"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."


After laying out the political philosophy behind forming a just government and dissolving an unjust one, Jefferson presented the charge that the administration of George III was exactly that kind of government.


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