Sunday, October 2, 2011

Alexander Hamilton: human rights are grounded in the common origins of humankind

That Americans are entitled to freedom is incontestable on every rational principle.  All men have one common original:  they participate in one common nature, and consequently have one common right.  No reason can be assigned why one man should exercise any power or preeminence over his fellow-creatures more than another; unless they have voluntarily vested him with it.
Alexander Hamilton (1775-1804), A Full Vindication, Dec. 15, 1774, published inThe Revolutionary Writings of Alexander Hamilton (Liberty Fund: 2008), pg. 6.


Andrea said...


MarkD said...

Just started reading AC and am thrilled. Keep up the good work.

The final sentence is particularly profound because it actually inverts the argument about commonality by instead asserting that in the absence of reasons otherwise, parity is the default condition (shame it didn't apply to slaves, of course). There is a Bayesian prior-style flavor to this statement that is reminiscent of the use of negative rights arguments in the Constitution.