Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)

Reader 1

George Thomas


This thesis examines the idea of economic rights and their place in American political history. The American constitutional understanding of rights has historically not included positive economic rights and has focused on negative political liberties. Chapter One is a discussion of what economic rights are in a broad sense. Then in Chapter Two I focus on Roosevelt. In his 1944 State of the Union Address, he proposed a “Second Bill of Rights” for America that was a list of economic rights. I use that speech and some of FDR’s other writings to understand economic rights as they were seen at their height in the American context. Chapter Three is a look at various methods of implementing economic rights, and it includes some comparative elements that demonstrate how economic rights have been put into force internationally. I conclude with a brief proposal for a modern economic bill of rights and a reflection on their enduring importance.