Vanhorne's Lessee v. Dorrance
U.S. Supreme Court
[This early Supreme Court case shows the importance of the right to property in the minds of the Founders. TGW]
Opinion of the Court by Justice William Paterson.
[After quoting the 1st, 8th, and 11th articles of the Pennsylvania Declaration of Rights, and the 9th and 46th section of the Pennsylvania Constitution, Paterson writes:]
From these passages it is evident; that the right of acquiring…property, and having it protected, is one of the natural, inherent, and unalienable rights of man. Men have a sense of property: Property is necessary to their subsistence, and correspondent to their natural wants and desires; its security was one of the objects, that induced them to unite in society. No man would become a member of a community, in which he could not enjoy the fruits of his honest labor and industry. The preservation of property then is a primary object of the social compact, and, by the late constitution of Pennsylvania, was made a fundamental law.
[From Philip B. Kurland and Ralph Lerner, ed., The Founders’ Constitution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), 1:599-600.]