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When the royal house of Bourbon by the hand of Louis XVIII, granted that charter of Liberty to the people of France, it was not their intention that personal liberty should continue at all.
“When the hour seemed to have come, the Restoration supposing itself victorious over Bonaparte and well rooted in the country, that is to say, believing itself to be strong and deep, abruptly decided on its plan of action and risked its stroke. One morning it drew itself up before the face of France, and elevating its voice, it contested the collective title and the individual right of the nation to sovereignty, of the citizen to liberty. In other words it denied to the nation that which made it a nation, and to the citizen that which made him a citizen.
“The predestined family which returned to France when Napoleon fell, had the fatal simplicity to believe that it was itself which bestowed, and that what it bestowed it could take back again, that the house of Bourbon possessed the right divine, that France possessed nothing, and that the political liberty conceded in the Charter of Louis XVIII, was merely a branch of the right divine, was detached by the House of Bourbon and graciously given to the people until such day as it should please the king to reassume it. Still the House of Bourbon should have felt, from the displeasure created by the gift, that it did come from it.
That liberty which had been granted by the Restoration was not the kind of liberty the people of France wanted. It was with longing hearts and glowing eyes that they gazed across the blue Atlantic and beheld the people of America in possesson of that kind of liberty which cannot be “grant- ed.” This liberty they must possess themselves. It is the absolute opposite of the liberty granted by Louis XVIII.
“American liberty never was granted by anybody to anybody; much less was it granted by the American government to anybody.
“American liberty cannot be granted. It is not of the sort of things than can be 'granted.’
“American liberty is originally and inherently possessed by every soul, as the direct endowment of the Creator in the very act and fact of the creation of the man.
Each person has this liberty just because he exists, and without any reference whatever to State or Government. He had it before any human government ever was; and he will have it after they are all gone.
Every American had this liberty before there was any American Government: while yet all the form of any government that was here was British and Romish, and all the “liberty” recognized was that which was “granted.”
Accordingly these Americans said that “liberty” that is “granted” or that can be granted is not liberty.
Therefore they proclaimed the original and true American Liberty, as follows: “We hold these truths to be self evident: “That all men are created equal; “That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; “That among these are life, LIBERTY, and the pursuit of happiness.” And instead of the Government “granting” to the people “liberty,” it is the people already possessed of liberty who granted to the Government all that it has or ever rightly can have, even to its very existence. And here is the original and American statement of that “self-evident truth:” “That to secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. “That when any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it and to institute a new government; laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.” “Thus in just two sentences there was annihilated the doctrine of despotism that had been anointed and “hallowed” by the Church of Rome, and fortified with the “holy” precedents of twelve hundred years—the doctrine of the divine right of rulers. And in the place of the old falsehood and
despotic theory of the sovereignty of the government and the subjection of the people, there was declared to all nations and for all time the self-evident truth and divine principle of the subjection of the government and the sovereignty of the people. “The Declaration in itself, presupposes that men are men indeed and that as such they are fully capable of deciding for themselves what is best for their safety and happiness, and how they shall pursue these, without the government being set up as a parent or guardian to deal with them as with children. “In those two splendid sentences there is declared not only the complete subordination of government, but also the absolute impersonality of it. “It is therein declared that the government is but a device, a mere piece of political machinery, framed and set up by the people, by which they would make themselves secure in the enjoyment of the inalienable rights which they already possess just because they are men and not by any “grant” or result of government. “The rights which were theirs before the government was, which is their own in the essential meaning of the term, and “which they do not hold by any sub-infeudation; but by the direct homage and allegiance to the Owner and Lord of all.” “And in establishing the impersonality of government, there is wholly uprooted all vestige of any character of paternity in the government.”
PERFECT CIVIL GOVERNMENT.
In declaring the equality of all men in the possession of these inalienable rights, there is declared the strongest possible safeguard of the rights of all the people. For, this
being the principle espoused by all the people, each one stands thereby pledged to the support of the principle in all relations. Therefore each individual is pledged, in the exercise of his own inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, so to act as not to interfere with any other person in the free exercise of his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Any person who so acts as to restrict or interfere with the free exercise of any other person's right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, denies the principle, to the maintenance of which he is pledged; and does in effect subvert the government. For, rights being equal, if any one may so act, then every other one has equal right to do the same: and thus no man's right would be recognized, the government of Liberty would be supplanted with a government of some other form. And that would inevitably be a despotism. “Therefore by every instinct, personal as well as general, private as well as public, every individual of the people is pledged in his own enjoyment of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, so to conduct himself as not to infringe in the least degree the equal right of every other one to the free and full exercise of his enjoyment of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. “Thus the Declaration of Independence announces, all American Liberty is the perfect principle of civil government. If this principle were conformed to by each one individually, the government would be a perfect civil government. For it is simply the principle of self-government—government of