"But the fundamental rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, considered as individual possessions are secured by those maxims of constitutional law which are the monuments showing the victorious progress of the race in securing to men the blessings of civilization under the reign of just and equal laws, so that, in the famous language of the Massachusetts Bill of Rights, the government of the commonwealth 'may be a government of laws and not of men.' For, the very idea that one man may be compelled to hold his life, or the means of living, or any material right essential to the enjoyment of life, at the mere will of another, seems to be intolerable in any country where freedom prevails, as being the essence of slavery itself."
[Yik Wo v. Hopkins (U.S. Supreme Court, 1885)]

"The erosion of a nation's concern for life and for individual rights, has always preceded the intrusion of tyranny."
[Gerry Spence - "With Justice For None" p.95]

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the rights of the people by the gradual & silent encroachments of those in power than by violent & sudden usurpations."
[Madison, Virginia Conv. 1788]

"And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe--the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God."
[Jonn F. Kennedy]

"For the principal aim of society is to protect individuals in the enjoyment of those absolute rights, which were vested in them by the immutable laws of nature; but which could not be preserved in peace without the mutual assistance and intercourse, which is gained by the institution of friendly and social communities. Hence it follows, thay the first and primary end of human laws is to maintain and regulate these absolute rights of individuals."
[William Blackstone, Commentaries (1765)]

"By the absolute rights of individuals we mean those which are so in their primary and strictest sense; such as would belong to their persons merely in a state of nature, and which every man is entitled to enjoy whether out of society or in it."
[William Blackstone, Commentaries (1765)]

"The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for, among old parchments, or musty records. They are written, as with a sun beam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power."
Alexander Hamilton, 23 Feb. 1775

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Last revision: March 31, 2009 07:35 AM
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