Creating the Declaration of Independence

Pursuit of Happiness

Some Americans, including Thomas Jefferson and George Mason, incorporated the concept of the pursuit of happiness into man’s natural, or inherent, universal rights. Borrowing the idea of pursuing virtue or happiness from Scottish moral philosophers, such as Henry Home, Lord Kames, Jefferson went so far as to substitute the phrase "the pursuit of happiness" for the word "property" in his litany of inalienable natural rights. Where did this idea come from? »

Rough Draft of the Declaration of Independence, Pursuit of Happiness section

We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable self-evident; that all men are created equal & independent from that equal creation they derive in rights equal rights some of which are they are endowed by their creator with certain [inherent &] inalienable rights; that among which these are life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness;