What are "natural rights"?

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The term “natural rights” is an important one used in the Declaration of Independence. It means that there are certain rights that can’t be taken away from people nor given up by people. All people are born with natural rights.

It is likely that Jefferson got this idea of natural rights from an Englishman named John Locke. Locke talked about these rights in the late 1600s when England was in the process of removing one of its kings.

Natural rights are ones that the government must protect. They include the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When government fails to protect these rights or tries to take them away, the people must work to remove that government from power and replace it with a government that will protect these rights. The concept of natural rights is a key part of the Declaration of Independence.

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