Liberty Quotation of the Day: James Madison’s Essay on Property

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James Madison“This term in its particular application means ‘that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual.’

In its larger and juster meaning, it embraces every thing to which a man may attach a value and have a right; and which leaves to every one else the like advantage.  In the former sense, a man’s land, or merchandise, or money is called his property.

In the latter sense, a man has property in his opinions and the free communication of them.

He has a property of peculiar value in his religious opinions, and in the profession and practice dictated by them.  He has a property very dear to him in the safety and liberty of his person.

He has an equal property in the free use of his faculties and free choice of the objects on which to employ them.

In a word, as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.

Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses.  This being the end of government, that alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own.”

James Madison, “Property,” The National Gazette, 29 March 1792