On this day, 244 years ago...

July 4, 2020

On this day, 244 years ago, the Continental Congress formally adopted the final draft of the Declaration of Independence, written by delegate and later President Thomas Jefferson. In addition to declaring America’s independence from Great Britain, Thomas Jefferson was sure to include specific precepts that he believed the new nation should be built on. Jefferson firmly believed and stated that all men are “endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” In an earlier draft of the document, Jefferson had exchanged the phrase “pursuit of happiness” for “property”, borrowing from Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. Common Sense, published in January of 1776 by activist Thomas Paine, was widely distributed throughout the 13 colonies and paved the way for the drafting and signing of the Declaration of Independence by utilizing simple language and ideas to appeal to the common people. In this way, Thomas Paine was able to simply and effectively communicate the need for independence from Great Britain and the creation of a Democratic Republic in the minds of the colonists. Among these simply communicated ideas was the right to own property, the importance of which both Jefferson and Paine agreed upon. Though the right to property was not specifically included in the final draft of the Declaration of Independence, it can be argued that Jefferson thought of the right to own property as a necessary stepping stone in the pursuit of happiness and the reigning of freedom. Jefferson envisioned an America in which property ownership was not only a right, but was obtainable for all. At the center of their newly chartered nation, Jefferson and America’s other founders found it paramount to establish that “all men are created equal” and that all have the right to economic freedom, including the right to own property. The right to property was further insured by the 5th Amendment of the Constitution, which reads, “No person shall be… nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” In 1803, Thomas Jefferson, now president, furthered his vision of property ownership by buying the Louisiana Purchase from France, doubling the land size of the United States. Later in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act, in an effort to encourage westward expansion, giving Americans the opportunity to purchase 160-acre plots of land for a nominal price. By 1900, nearly half of all Americans owned their own home. Home ownership soared after an economic (and baby) boom after World War II. In 2019 alone, close to 6 million homes were purchased in the United States.682,000 new construction homes were sold in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It is these independence driven ideas that built America’s foundation and that each of us have the opportunity to enjoy today. Simply put, without Independence Day and the ideals instilled in our nation’s foundation by our founding fathers, the majority of the 65% of Americans that are homeowners today, would not be. So, as you enjoy your Independence Day, remember that one of the most patriotic things you can do, is be a homeowner. Whether you chose to celebrate with a backyard barbecue, a day in the pool, or making patriotic desserts in the kitchen, our family at First Choice Home Builders wants to wish yours a Happy Independence Day.     ***Written by our very own 2020 High School graduate and future University of Georgia student, Madison Weathersbee.