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by Tom Bowden | June 26, 2014

“I can say,” wrote Ayn Rand, “not as a patriotic bromide, but with full knowledge of the necessary metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, political and esthetic roots — that the United States of America is the greatest, the noblest and, in its original founding principles, the only moral country in the history of the world.”

Rand’s bold claim was based on the political philosophy contained in the Declaration of Independence — contained explicitly, in Jefferson’s immortal statement that government’s sole purpose is to protect the individual’s rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — and contained implicitly, in moral principles of rational self-interest that Rand herself made explicit almost two hundred years later.

“It is in this context — from the perspective of the bloody millennia of mankind’s history — that I want you to look at the birth of a miracle: the United States of America,” Rand wrote elsewhere. “If it is ever proper for men to kneel, we should kneel when we read the Declaration of Independence.”

On July 4, we commemorate political independence from England and pay tribute to the Founders’ moral vision of the sovereign individual who deserves freedom to live by his own independent judgment. But to achieve that ideal in the twenty-first century, we desperately need Ayn Rand’s perspective on individual rights and how government can protect them. Here are some resources for those who want to explore the deeper significance of Independence Day:


Ayn Rand on “America” (from The Ayn Rand Lexicon)

Ayn Rand on the “Founding Fathers” (from The Ayn Rand Lexicon)

Ayn Rand on “Man’s Rights” and “The Nature of Government” (essays available here)

Atlas Shrugged: America’s Second Declaration of Independence” (essay by Onkar Ghate)

The Meaning of Independence Day” (video by Mike Berliner)

Boston Tea Party – July 4 keynote (video, part 1 and part 2, by Yaron Brook)

Atlas Shrugged: A Paean to American Liberty” (op-ed by Don Watkins)

Kagan’s Updated Declaration of Independence” (blog post by Tom Bowden)

Callaway RAZR Fit Xtreme & X Hotshow?id=mjvuF8ceKoQ&bids=205477


  1. I understand her point but it shows an improper reading of the American Revolution. The American Revolution also saw the appropriation of vast amounts of loyalist wealth by the colonists. Some of this occurred when the loyalists chose to leave but much of it was done through mob rule with loyalist businesses boycotted until they were forced to sell. Loyalist farms were burned and then taken over by colonists, etc. Many loyalists left for Canada with anything they could carry and whatever they left behind went to the colonists who were generally poorer and less educated than the loyalists.

    The American Revolution was a true Revolution, like those in France and Russia because large transfers of wealth occurred. This is opposed to more recent “revolutions” like those in Thailand and Egypt where the leadership changed but there was no restructuring of wealth.

    1. Brian, I hope this is not what you were taught somewhere if so I would ask for a refund , you need to study you history , not political diatribes

  2. James, I don’t think GRHS offers refunds for AP US History from a few decades ago :-).

    Every colony passed laws allowing the confiscation of loyalist property. The US even paid reparations for some of the land and property stolen.

    The only debatable part of my comment is whether the property and land really transferred to poorer colonists. This is true but less definitive than my comment. This was more from the appropriation via mob rule and is not particularly well documented, for obvious reasons.

    The broader point holds which is that the revolution allowed the colonists to essentially remove the leadership of the nation which created opportunities for many of them. Remember even someone like Ben Franklin was hardly a member of the landed gentry. He worked his way from being a poor apprentice to a printer to become ambassador to France. Such an appointment was unheard of in Great Britain.

    1. you need to do a lot more reading than wiki , I suggest you start with you start with the founders themselves

    2. Did you forget the British did the same thing against any sympathizer ? They also tortured , murdered , shunned, burned crops, stole animals hummm missed a few days in class I suspect ?

  3. James, I have read a lot from the founders (as well as Ayn Rand) and I enjoy nothing more than debating what they wrote/thought/said.

    The point here is really that while there were noble ideals attached to the American Revolution, anyone who values the principles of private property the way that Ayn Rand did, must take pause in calling the Revolution “moral.” By definition, no revolution can honor all private property as it existed prior to the revolution.

    1. Brian , you are equating two entirely different matters , the brilliance of the American Revolution , was the creation of a country from scratch with little burden of history , based of the supremacy of the individual engineering a government based on protecting that supremacy .

  4. I would state a similar conclusion in terms more similar to those used by de Tocqueville which avoids the pitfalls of arguing about the abstract concept of individual rights.

    The most incredible thing that was created in the US Constitution were government institutions which allow individuals to act as their naturally selfish selves and to produce common good as a bi-product of their selfish actions. There is no need for an enlightened despot or fear of the afterlife for the system to work. Everyone can act for his/her self-interest and yet schools and bridges are built, an army is maintained, social security is funded, etc.

    The balance of powers and limits on Executive power in the Constitution prevent a despot and self-interest takes care of the rest. As Tocqueville predicted, the real danger in our system comes from the potential for the tyranny of the majority which punishes ruthlessly. Moreover, the power of the majority is all too often used to enforce the preference of the people toward equality instead of liberty.

    Those very weaknesses, identified 180 years ago by de Tocqueville, are the very ones that now are highlighted in our public shaming of every off-color remark as well as the debate over our tax code.

  5. I didn’t miss that day or those pages in the Declaration, but tit for tat between the revolutionaries and the loyalists wasn’t my point. My argument was not about morality, it was about the fact that the American Revolution created a tremendous transfer of wealth and power.

    While the founders employed incredible insights of how to form a “more perfect union,” one of the major results of the war was the transfer of land, businesses and property from the 20% of colonists who were loyalist. Another major result of the war was to free the colonies of the monopoly of the British East Indian Company which was the Amazon of the day with the British Navy and infantry to back it up.

    To me, it is ironic that Ayn Rand would speak so glowingly of a revolution that largely resulted in the weaker/poorer Americans taking away land/power/wealth from the British and loyalists. To me, John Galt was more similar to the owners of the British East Indian Company than to Jefferson’s yeoman farmers. I don’t think that the founders saw virtue in building empires (in business or politics), they preferred a system where the hardworking man lives a comfortable, moral and political life.

    Anyway, despite the details, I think we agree that the founders created quite an amazing framework which has led to the incredible prosperity and success that America has witnessed in the past 250 years. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

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