Americans have inherited from these pioneer men and women, who had been trained in the hard school of experience to win the rights of”life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” an unusual sense of what is just in lawmaking. It was to establish these rights more firmly that pioneers struggled in the wilderness; they wanted personal liberty and economic freedom, the right to a full life. In pursuit of happiness these men and women sought the unsettled lands of the western country. And they defended their enterprise sturdily, whether they were threatened by poor living, Indians, illness and hunger, or by unjust officials and intruders.
This ideal sounds a lot like the rhetoric coming from many on the right today. Economic freedom, liberty, the space to make your own life- these are all part of the spirit that animates us. However, as I read through this time-capsule of a book I am struck by how much our forefathers suffered for the sake of their liberty. Near starvation, premature death, crippling poverty, and a work week that simply never ended. And they did this all without any of the safety net that our modern government provides. No medicare, no social security, no unemployment, no low interest home loans.
Something to think about.