Property and the Pursuit of Happiness: Locke, the Declaration of Independence, Madison, and the Challenge of the Administrative State

Property and the Pursuit of Happiness: Locke, the Declaration of Independence, Madison, and the Challenge of the Administrative State

by Edward J. Erler

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In this book, Edward Erler brings a lifetime of study of political philosophy, the American founding, and the US constitution to the central role of property in American constitutional thought. Erler argues that the Founders considered the natural right to property as the comprehensive right that included every other right. In this sense they followed political philosopher John Locke, but at the same time made significant improvements on Locke, making it moral and political, something they called the “pursuit of happiness.”

In the past century, this understanding of the right to property—derived from the principles of the Declaration of Independence—has been challenged by the rise of progressivism, which places promoting community welfare above the protection of individual rights as the central role of government. This has led to the administrative state’s unrelenting attacks on the right to private property, which have effectively ended the right to property as it was understood by the founders. Property and the Pursuit of Happiness offers a learned and wide-ranging discussion of the values at the core of America’s founding that will be of interest to all readers seeking to understand the founders’ vision and the profound challenges to it today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781538130872
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 07/26/2019
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 248
File size: 746 KB

About the Author

Edward J. Erler is Professor of Political Science emeritus at California State University, San Bernardino, and is a senior fellow of The Claremont Institute. He is the author of The American Polity: Essays on the Theory and Practice of Constitutional Government, co-author of The Founders on Citizenship and Immigration, and has published numerous articles in law reviews and professional journals. Among his most recent articles are “The Decline and Fall of the Right to Property: Government as Universal Landlord;” and “The Second Amendment as a Reflection of First Principles;” he has also published several articles in the Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. Dr. Erler was a member of the California Advisory Commission on Civil Rights from 1988-2006 and served on the California Constitutional Revision Commission in 1996. He has testified before the House and Senate Judiciary Committee on birthright citizenship, voting rights and other civil rights issues.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and "Strictly Republican" Government 5

2 The Declaration of Independence and Social Compact: The Theological-Political Problem 51

3 Property and the Pursuit of Happiness 91

4 Locke and Madison on Property 129

5 From the Founding to Kelo v. City of New London, Connecticut: The Decline and Fall of the Right to Property 159

Conclusion: The Administrative State and Post-constitutionalism: The Demise of the Right to Property 209

Appendix 217

Index 227

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