We’re losing the concept of natural rights

Steve Johnson
8 min readJul 16, 2021

The following are the notes I took from a Hillsdale College lecture titled Natural Rights and the American Revolution.

The British needed the colonists to fight the French. Once the French and Indian War was won, the British government didn’t have to treat the colonists so politely anymore. “We’ve been defending you. Now pay taxes and show your allegiance.” The Americans, likewise, thought, “Now that the French are gone, we don’t need the British as much.” The mutually beneficial relationship was no longer mutually beneficial. The British were not going to push the colonists around anymore. But it was more than just a desire not to be dominated. The colonists felt they had a right to be free and to self-government. The British disagreed because the colonies were a part of the British Empire. The colonists believed that natural rights existed for all people everywhere at all times. They were not just fighting for themselves but for the principles of the laws of nature and nature’s God. They were fighting for something bigger than themselves as much as for themselves. These ideas had been around for about 60 years before the American Revolution.

“All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness” (Massachusetts Constitution, 1780). “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” (Virginia Constitution, 1776). “That all men are born equally free and independent and have certain natural, inherent, and inalienable rights, amongst which are, the enjoying and defending [of] life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and maintaining happiness and safety” (Pennsylvania Constitution, 1776; Vermont Constitution, 1777). “All men have certain natural, essential, and inherent rights, among which are — the enjoying and defending [of] life and liberty —…

Steve Johnson

My interests are Jesus Christ and all things Christianity, news and politics, current events, conservatism, sports, and entertainment. And I love to write!