pkz6996 asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 decade ago

Why was Thomas Jeffersons phrase. "Life, liberty, and the persuit of property" Changed to Happiness?

Thomas Jefferson wrote, "Life liberty and the persuit of property," Why was it changed to Life, Liberty, and the persuit of happiness?

5 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    First, to clarify, Locke's three-fold expression was simply "life, liberty and property". But the "change" to "pursuit of happiness" was NOT something Jefferson himself dreamed up. Rather the idea also went back to Locke's discussion of rights -- and the WORDING in the Declaration of Independence was based on the way this was all expressed a month before that document by George Mason.

    Part of the solution is to clarify what these terms MEANT to Locke and the founding fathers -- neither the mention of "property" nor of "happiness" means quite what WE tend to think.

    By "property," Locke meant MORE than land and goods that could be sold, given away, or even confiscated by the government under certain circumstances. Property also referred to ownership of one's self, which included A RIGHT TO PERSONAL WELL BEING. Jefferson, however, substituted the phrase, "pursuit of happiness," which Locke and others had used to describe FREEDOM OF OPPORTUNITY as well as the duty to help those in want.

    Perhaps the easiest way to see this connection is to look at the very first paragraph of the "Virginia Declaration of Rights" written by George Mason in 1776, JUST BEFORE the Declaration of Independence. Note how his list pulls together "property" and "pursuit of happiness" --

    "That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety."

  • alia
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

    Life Liberty And Property

  • 1 decade ago

    JOHN LOCKE wrote "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of property." Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence used the term "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" to broaden the idea. In the Declaration, it does not only refer to property, but much more.

    There's a simple explanation at the site if you would like more information. Hope that helps (:

  • 5 years ago

    I once read where some of the signers did not believe slaves should be allowed to own property, thus it was changed to get their signatures.

    • ... not only the slaves, ALL men not part of the upper echelon of society. Learn the REAL history. Founded on greed, genocide, and on the backs of slaves; a true criminal empire. In fact, out of the entire world, this country has the majority of contracted slaves , yet we say we are "free".

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  • Anonymous
    3 years ago

    This is a challenging question, and one that has been confusing me for quite a long time.

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