Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)

Reader 1

Emily Pears, PhD

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Rights Information

© 2018 Zach R Wong

OCLC Record Number



The most contentious issues of our day often have to do with political and social rights as opposed to economic rights. Through the lens of property rights I investigate whether this dichotomy existed at the time of the American founding. First, I examine the state constitutions and identify three clauses, common to the documents, which protect property rights. I examine their historical basis and reveal their connection to English common law and Locke, primarily. Then, I discuss the personal views of Madison and Jefferson to gain insight into the personal thoughts of two of the most influential Founders. Finally, I examine the actual protections for property rights found in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Ultimately, I conclude that the Founders saw property rights as deserving of no less protection than social and political rights. Our modern political arena thus has a blind spot when it comes to economic rights. Understanding, at the very least, this part of our nation’s original history is useful for American policymakers, advocates, and citizens of any political stripe.