(because they existed in "the state of nature" be- fore humankind entered civil society); that chief among them are rights to life, liberty (freedom from arbitrary rule), and property; that, upon en- tering civil society (pursuant to a "social con- tract"), humankind surrendered to the state only the right to enforce these natural rights, not the rights themselves; and that the state's failure to secure these reserved natural rights (the state it- selfbeing under contract to safeguard the interests of its members) gives rise to a right to responsible, popular revolution.
Thomas Jefferson, who had studied Locke and
Montesquieu and who asserted that his country- men were a "free people claiming their rights as derived from the laws of nature and not as the gift of their Chief Magistrate," gave poetic eloquence to the plain prose of the seventeenth century in the Declaration of Independence proclaimed by the thirteen American Colonies on July 4, 1776:
"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
Rights of Man and of the Citizen of August 26, 1789. Insisting that "men are born and remain free and equal in rights," the declaration proclaims that "the aim of every political association is the preservation of the natural and…