The Pursuit of Happiness, by Michael Pakaluk

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October 27, 2021
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*Image: The Copely Family by John Singleton Copley, 1776-77 [National Gallery, Washington, DC]

By Michael Pakaluk, The Catholic Thing, Oct. 27, 2021

Michael Pakaluk, an Aristotle scholar and Ordinarius of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas, is a professor in the Busch School of Business at the Catholic University of America. …


Michael PakalukI like to tell my students that Pope Leo XIII was more American than Thomas Jefferson.  When Jefferson had his chance to state the foundational principles of American self-government, he wrote: “all men are created equal, [and] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, [and] among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

You may know from American history that the triad of natural rights most frequently cited among the colonists was, rather, life, liberty, and property.  This formula was something of a mantra, used by pastors and pamphleteers. It has puzzled historians since 1776 that Jefferson replaced the third of these with the odd-sounding “pursuit of happiness.” …