Property to The Pursuit of Happiness, a Not-so-Simple Change

Jackson Bass, Blazefeed Editor

You might recall the line in the Declaration of Independence that goes, “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 section of the Declaration, especially the “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” part, should be very recognizable.
Those unalienable rights were penned by Thomas Jefferson; however he wasn’t the first to come up with them. That honor goes to the English philosopher John Locke.
Locke believed that a government is obligated to serve its people. He stated that a government should protect its people’s Life, Liberty, and Property. If a government does not protect these rights, the people have the right to rebel.
Thomas Jefferson was an admirer of Locke’s writings, and it is clear to see why he decided to incorporate some of his ideas into the Declaration of Independence. After all, according to Locke’s reasoning, the American colonists had the right to break away from England. They believed England was taking their rights as citizens away without their say.
So that leads us to when Thomas Jefferson was in the process of writing the Declaration. Jefferson decided to incorporate Life, Liberty, and Property, but he chose to switch Property with the Pursuit of Happiness.
As it turns out, the reason why Jefferson made that decision is a little complicated; some say Jefferson put the Pursuit of Happiness because it aligned better with his enlightenment ideals.
Others may say that the Pursuit of Happiness was put in to align with the goals of the American Revolution and to motivate the people.
It seems as though the answer to the question “why did Jefferson change it” is not as clear as one may think. After all, it is impossible to ask him now, and he never explicitly wrote about why he changed it.
John Locke was a big influence on Thomas Jefferson’s thinking, and many of Locke’s ideas have been embedded within the foundation of America. His ideas greatly aided not only Jefferson but also many others in securing America’s independence and creating its government.