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Richard Weaver’s observation that “ideas have consequences” is especially valid when we study the growth of government in America. If we compare the attitudes of Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge on the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence we can see how their views on government intervention were a logical outcome of their conceptions of these documents.

The Declaration of Independence reflected a generation of thinking on the subject of natural rights—“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.” The Constitution later separated the powers of government to protect life, liberty, and property from future encroachments by potential tyrants.

This article will be posted in full in January 2008

Burton W. Folsom
Burton W. Folsom

Burton Folsom, Jr. is a professor of history at Hillsdale College and author (with his wife, Anita) of FDR Goes to War.