Monday, July 04, 2016

240 Years Ago: Endowed by Their Creator with Certain Unalienable Rights

Two hundred forty years ago today.

IN CONGRESS, 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 Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

self-evident truths:
1. all men are created equal
2. endowed by their Creator
3. certain unalienable Rights
4. among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness


MAX Redline said...

Yes. Too bad that Leftists here consider that to be an outdated piece of paper. They seem eager to embrace totalitarianism.

"A Republic, if you can keep it."

T. D. said...

What is even sadder is apparently some conservatives, Republicans and evangelicals think it outdated too at least in this election in which "the country is at stake". They don't realize that this is the country--the Republic of Jefferson, Franklin and Washington.

OregonGuy said...

I still aver it should be "inalienable."

T. D. said...

OG, I always wavered between the two until I read this:

But if we go back to Black‘s 2nd (A.D. 1910) we’ll see that “inalienable” was defined as:

“Not subject to alienation; the characteristic of those things which cannot be bought or sold or transferred from one person to another such as rivers and public highways and certain personal rights; e.g., liberty.”

Black’s 2nd defines “unalienable” as:

“Incapable of being aliened, that is, sold and transferred.”

At first glance the two terms seem pretty much synonymous. However, while the word “inalienable” is “not subject to alienation,” the word “unalienable” is “incapable of being aliened”. I believe the distinction between these two terms is this:

“Unalienable” is “incapable” of being aliened by anyone, including the man who holds something “unalienable”. Thus, it is impossible for any individual to sell, transfer or otherwise dispose of an “unalienable Right”. it is impossible for you to take one of my “unalienable rights”. It is likewise impossible for me to even voluntarily surrender, sell or transfer one of my “unalienable rights”. Once I have something “unalienable,” it’s impossible for me to get rid of it. It would be easier to give up the color of my eyes or my heart than to give up that which is “unalienable”.

That which is “inalienable,” on the other hand, is merely “not subject to alienation”. Black’s 2nd does not declare that it’s absolutely impossible for that which is “inalienable” to be sold, transferred or assigned. Instead, I believe that “inalienable” merely means that “inalienable rights” are not subject to “alienation” by others. That is, no one can compel me to sell, abandon or transfer any of my “inalienable” rights. I am not “subject” to compelled “alienation” by others.

But that leaves open the question of whether I may am entitled to voluntarily and unilaterally sell, transfer, abandon or otherwise surrender that which is “inalienable”. Thus, while it is impossible for me to abandon, or for government to take, my “unalienable rights,” it is possible for me to voluntarily waive my “inalienable” rights. I strongly suspect that our gov-co presumes that our rights are at best “inalienable,” and that since we have not expressly claimed them, we could have and therefore must have waived them.

OregonGuy said...


Bashed by the literate.

MAX Redline said...

Ha! Good work!

There is much in a single letter of a word, as the founders well understood.

T. D. said...

Just happened to run across this. Probably doing a search when I was perplexed about which to use.

MAX Redline said...

I appreciate the insight. Always wondered why they chose "unalienable" in the language.

T. D. said...

I agree, Max. Little things like this open windows of understanding on philosophical as well as practical issues.