How Thomas Jefferson Put the Golden Rule into The Declaration of Independence

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“Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.” Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson made the “Golden Rule” the foundation of American Democracy by changing John Locke’s Natural rights law from Life, Liberty and Property to the inalienable rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. The change insures that decisions are driven by civic virtue instead of selfishness. The change resulted from Jefferson’s understanding of the “Golden Rule” and his struggle with slavery. The original draft of the Declaration of Independence contained a scathing denunciation of slavery.[1]  Jefferson’s change declares it immoral and illegal to consider one person the property of another. If you would be unhappy being owned by someone else it follows that it is wrong to consider another person your property. If the original draft of the Declaration of Independence had been approved there would have been no slavery after the revolution of 1776. The original draft was not approved, slavery was not abolished, and a civil war was fought leaving a legacy of bitterness in America still felt today.

There are Laws of God and laws of man. The laws of man attempt to encourage people to act out of fear and punishment. The laws of man can be unfair and unfairly administered. A guilty person may escape punishment and an innocent person may be punished. The laws of man can profit one group at the expense of another. Unjust laws encourage criminal behavior. Unjust laws make an innocent person a criminal. Unjust laws may legislate breaking the Laws of God. The laws of man are costly to legislate and costly to apply. The laws of man attempt to remove criminals from society. Large groups of human beings must waste their lives in a bureaucratic tension filled environment attempting to administer, apply and carry out the punishment associated with a particular crime. Larger groups of human beings must pay for this costly bureaucratic framework. The laws of man are a poor substitute for the laws of God.

The laws of God provide rules and guidelines for acting intelligently. Acting intelligently is acting in ones own best interest and at the same time acting in the best interest of all. The Laws of God include the Ten Commandments, the Teachings of Buddha, and the Laws of Mohammed. The simplest and most elegant rule and guideline for acting intelligently is the Golden Rule. Confucius, Christ and Mohammed all preached and lived by the Golden Rule. Confucius and Mohammed taught, don’t do to others that which you wouldn’t have others do to you. Christ taught do unto others that which you would have others do unto you. Using the Golden Rule to help drive decisions helps you follow all the rules and guidelines handed down by God. No creature anywhere can simplify the Golden Rule, making human beings amongst the most intelligent creatures in the universe. Applying the Laws of God reward our actions with a better future. Our tomorrows will be less full of problems and guilt created by making poor choices in the past. Our neighbor’s tomorrows will be less full of problems we created for them. Living by the Laws of God rewards us with a more fulfilling and joyous life here on earth and eternal life after death. The Laws of God are much more powerful than the laws of man. .

A society in which women are less than equal are cheated out of half its thinking power.


[1] Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence states : “he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.http://www.princeton.edu/~tjpapers/declaration/declaration.html

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2 responses to “How Thomas Jefferson Put the Golden Rule into The Declaration of Independence

  1. Pingback: The Thomas Jefferson – Sally Hemings Myth and the Politicization of American History by David N. Mayer | tomjefferson1976

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