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Life, liberty, property

The source of US exceptionalism is its concept of property. The original land survey of America was as crucial as the Declaration of Independence

By Andro Linklater   August 2002

When the American colonists set out to explain why they wanted independence from Britain, they turned to the language of the Enlightenment. “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” runs the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

To most American commentators, their republic still represents the embodiment of those ideals committed to paper in 1776. They are enshrined in the bill of rights and the constitution and given effect in the…

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