John Locke, who served as the primary role model and inspiration for the Framers, famously defined the social contract between government and the governed as that the former exists at the consent of the latter. Inherent in this philosophy is the sanctity of the individual, and as individuals we have certain, limited unalienable rights. These rights were naturally occurring and not dependent on whimsical and changing definition to suit the moment. Defining these rights simply as life, liberty and property, Locke and his contemporaries repudiated centuries of monarchistic, collectivist rule and unleashed a political enlightenment, which in many respects culminated with the birth of these United States under the guidance of the founders of our nation.
The foundation of Locke’s writing was establishing the sanctity of the individual. Locke said that the legitimacy of government was solely to be subjugated to the rights of the governed, as individuals. Past a level playing field, upheld by law, government intrusion as a self-serving entity was to be limited. Property, so long as it did not spoil, was to be accumulated based on ability and labor. Wanton confiscation of property to be utilized at the pleasure of said government was a violation of natural law. When declaring independence from England and writing our Constitution, the framers kept a close eye to this political philosophy. It was intended that the United States, under a uniquely structured federalism, maintain the sanctity of the individual.
Purposely, the United States Constitution was constructed to provide its citizens with a different relationship with authority than its English precursor. In the fashion of the day, the monarchy in England served solely at its own pleasure. It took the fruits of labor from its subjects as it saw fit, and distributed property unbound by any code other than self-service. There was little if any sense of the natural rights of the individual. Distribution of confiscated property was almost always to win fealty, and to perpetuate the power of the monarchy in perpetuity.