- Before defining what exactly or at least operationally Thomas Jefferson meant when he first coined and discussed the term the pursuit of happiness during the declaration of independence, it would be important to know who this man was, under what time or era he lived, so that as audiences, we could know the origins of his term and at least contextually determine what type of happiness the man was referring to. Thomas Jefferson during the Declaration of Independence in 1776 allegedly just replaced the original three terms used for or associated with happiness which was allegedly first coined by John Locke. John Locke allegedly referred to happiness as being composed of the trinity of life, liberty, and property.
Now, according to some historians, the term pursuit of happiness which was first described by Thomas Jefferson during the Declaration of Independence was allegedly his own version of John Locke’s trinity of life, liberty, and property. Although this may not necessarily be true because these two people came from two significantly different eras which would imply that the concept of being happy in one era may not be altogether similar to that in the other era. Nonetheless, I would be contrarian to my friend’s suggestion that he should be able to do pretty much whatever he wants to because of the Declaration of Independence and the technicality of the use of the term pursuit of happiness. Jefferson may indeed be referring to the three things originally described in Locke’s original trinity. However, the pursuit of happiness does not equate to absolute liberty. In Dr. Samuel Johnson’s work entitled Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia, the princess asked the question “what is to be expected from our pursuit of happiness when we find the state of life to be such that happiness itself is the cause of misery?” . This means that doing basically anything for happiness may indeed cause some unhappiness around other people. This is why there is a constitution—so that the government can have a guide or framework that they can use in protecting the life, liberty, and property of not just one but essentially all of their citizens who presumably are all in their own pursuit of happiness. What my friend suggests in this case—upon stating that he should be able to do anything he wants to do because of the declaration of independence, is selfishness, because he basically shows that he wants to be the only person who is happy.
- The judging of the freeness of a country was based on a broad scope of factors namely: open political competition, significant independent civic life, independent media, and a climate of respect for civil liberties. In general, 89 (46%) of the total of 193 countries studied appeared to be free based on the said categories; 62 (32%) were partly free; and 42 (22%) were not free. In general, majority of the countries or those located in the Western Hemisphere were generally free such as the United States, Canada, Brazil, and their allied countries. Majority of the countries in Europe were also considered free. Countries in South East Asia were also generally considered to be free and even those in the continent of Australia. This may be attributed to the rise of democracy.
Most, if not all, countries that were considered to be free have a democratic form of government. Russia, China, and African countries were the only major countries that turned out to be either partly free or totally not free. Again, this may be attributed to the type of government. The partly free and totally not free countries shown in the map were the countries that have a communist or a socialist type of government, or those who engage in shady political activities, or are under the assimilation or occupation of another nation. These are just some of the possible reasons why they were considered to be not free. What really makes a nation free is the ability of the country to protect the rights of the citizen and at the same time to uphold justice, law, and order. Anyone would be willing to sacrifice anything, even their own life, just to be able to live in a nation that is free.
3A. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson mentioned the terms “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”, “endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights”, “Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions”, and “a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence” . These four phrases may be considered as the four theological references in the declaration. Although this may indicate that Christian teachings from the Bible may have been used, the presence of such phrases and the frequency of theological references suggest that theological teachings were not very much considered. These references may indicate that the independence of the country is based, at least up to a certain extent, on the teachings from the bible.
3B. the part of the original draught of the Declaration of Independence suggests that Jefferson was a member of the opposition against slavery which according to modern historians, was a dark age in the country’s past. It was (the passage about slavery), however, removed from the final declaration because (according to Jefferson) of the active hand of the delegates from Georgia, South Carolina, and other Northern States who were housing merchants actively involved in the famous Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Simply, the paragraph was not included in the final version of the declaration because it was contrarian to the prevailing political perception on slavery during that time.
Hamilton, C. (2007). The Surprising Origins and Meaning of the "Pursuit of Happiness". History News Network, 24.
Jefferson, T. (n.d.). Thomas Jefferson's Original Rough Draught of the Declaration of Independence. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson 1, 243-247.