Browse our archive of original historical documents on the themes of this book:

- Founding Principles

- Slavery

- Property Rights

- Women and the Right to Vote

- Women and the Family

- Was the Founding Undemocratic? The Property Requirement for Voting

- Poverty and Welfare

- Immigration and the Moral Conditions of Citizenship

- Afterword: Liberals and Conservatives Abandon the Principles of the Founding


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Chapter 2. Property Rights

Federalist No. 10
James Madison
The right to property is rooted in the right we have to the free use of our own mind and talents, which it is government’s job to protect.

James Madison
March 29, 1792
Madison wrote this newspaper article to explain the relationship between property rights and other natural rights.

Vanhorne’s Lessee v. Dorrance
This early Supreme Court case shows the importance of the right to property in the minds of the Founders.

Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Milligan
April 6, 1816
Jefferson affirms that the main purpose of society is to enable human beings to keep the fruits of their labor.

Speech in New Haven, Connecticut
Abraham Lincoln
March 6, 1860
Slavery is a denial of the right to property, because the slave is not permitted to keep the fruits of his own labor, and he is not allowed to strike or quit his job.


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