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In  CONGRESS,       July 4, 1776.    

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

                               WHEN in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to desolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the seperate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.       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. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Transcript of the entire Declaration of Independence

Learn the fate of the signatories

The 13 Colonies

Unalienable Rights - Absolute Rights - Natural Rights

The absolute rights of individuals may be resolved into the right of personal security, the right of personal liberty, and the right to acquire and enjoy property. These rights are declared to be natural, inherent, and unalienable. Atchison & N. R. Co. v. Baty, 6 Neb. 37, 40, 29 Am. Rep. 356.

By the "absolute rights" of individuals is meant those which are so in their primary and strictest sense, such as would belong to their persons merely in a state of nature, and which every man is entitled to enjoy, whether out of society or in it. The rights of personal security, of personal liberty, and private property do not depend upon the Constitution for their existence. They existed before the Constitution was made, or the government was organized. These are what are termed the "absolute rights" of individuals, which belong to them independently of all government, and which all governments which derive their power from the consent of the governed were instituted to protect. People v. Berberrich (N. Y.) 20 Barb. 224, 229; McCartee v. Orphan Asylum Soc. (N. Y.) 9 Cow. 437, 511, 513, 18 Am. Dec. 516; People v. Toynbee (N. Y.) 2 Parker, Cr. R. 329, 369, 370 (quoting 1 Bl. Comm. 123).

Chancellor Kent (2 Kent, Comm. 1) defines the "absolute rights" of individuals as the right of personal security, the right of personal liberty, and the right to acquire and enjoy property. These rights have been justly considered and frequently declared by the people of this country to be natural, inherent, and inalienable, and it may be stated as a legal axiom [A principle that is not disputed; a maxim] that since the great laboring masses of our country have little or no property but their labor, and the free right to employ it to their own best interests and advantage, it must be considered that the constitutional inhibition against all invasion of property without due process of law was as fully intended to embrace and protect that property as any of the accumulations it may have gained. In re Jacobs (N. Y.) 33 Hun, 374, 378.


Learn about the Constitution and the Founders.
Correct text version of the Constitution with annotations.
Colonies that ratified the U.S. Constitution

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