[Note: What follows is taken from this comment at Positive Liberty---JR.]
Just how much of a natural rights framework did the Founding have? I’m not persuaded there was that much of it. Obviously the Declaration is firmly based in a natural rights framework, but that was Jefferson’s style. He only ended up writing it because the rest of his committee knew that a) he was an eloquent writer and b) he was the young kid on whom they could foist the work. For many, perhaps most, of the delegates to the Continental Congress, it may have just sounded good, without them thinking too deeply about how the ideas ought to be applied in their own states upon achieving independence.
The American “Founding,” was multiple events. It was the declaring of independence, via a document based on natural rights. It was the successful fighting of a war, itself not obviously based on natural law. It was later the drafting of a federal constitution, clearly not based on natural law. But in between it was also the drafting of constitutions for the 13 brand new countries–and, yes, they were 13 countries united in a “league of friendship,” rather than a single new country–with varying levels of protection for rights, which is to say, varying levels of natural rights influence. And that federal constitution left as much of that diversity in place as was consonant with establishing tighter ties that bind, which is to say that it paid little, if any, attention to the natural rights of the citizens of the individual states.