Jefferson and Adams

The Declaration of Independence and Capitalism

Before it was edited by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, the original draft of the Declaration of Independence stated that, “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 property.” Fearing that the slave owning states would use the reference to property as justification for holding slaves, the word property was replaced by “pursuit of happiness,” in the final draft. While their motivations may have been well-founded and even wise in its time, the original three words penned by Thomas Jefferson in 1776 form the core of the capitalist ideal.

Life, in the context of the Declaration of Independence, carries with it not only the connotation of the right to exist, but also denotes the right to live that life to its fullest extent and for that life to be under the sole and complete ownership of the individual to which it was given. Only in a purely capitalistic society can man be said to truly own his own life. In any state where capitalism is not practiced fully, a man’s life is owned in full or in part by the state. Consider the modern world. It is controlled either by states with socialist-collectivist economic and political ideologies, by semi-theocracies or by some form of tribalism. There is not among them even one truly capitalist society. Yet,  it is only through capitalism that man can be truly free and the master of his own destiny. Read here: Who voted how