“America’s founding ideal was the principle of individual rights. Nothing more—and nothing less. The rest—everything that America achieved, everything she became, everything ‘noble and just,’ and heroic, and great, and unprecedented in human history—was the logical consequence of fidelity to that one principle. The first consequence was the principle of political freedom, i.e., an individual’s freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by the government. The next was the economic implementation of political freedom: the system of capitalism.” (Ayn Rand, “A Preview,” The Ayn Rand Letter, I, 24, 5.)
“The most profoundly revolutionary achievement of the United States of America was the subordination of society to moral law. The principle of man’s individual rights represented the extension of morality into the social system—as a limitation on the power of the state, as man’s protection against the brute force of the collective, as the subordination of might to right. The United States was the first moral society in history. All previous systems had regarded man as a sacrificial means to the ends of others, and society as an end in itself. The United States regarded man as an end in himself, and society as a means to the peaceful, orderly, voluntary co-existence of individuals. All previous systems had held that man’s life belongs to society, that society can dispose of him in any way it pleases, and that any freedom he enjoys is his only by favor, by the permission of society, which may be revoked at any time. The United States held that man’s life is his by right (which means: by moral principle and by his nature), that a right is the property of an individual, that society as such has no rights, and that the only moral purpose of a government is the protection of individual rights.” (Ayn Rand, “Man’s Rights,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 93.)
“It took centuries of intellectual, philosophical development to achieve political freedom. It was a long struggle, stretching from Aristotle to John Locke to the Founding Fathers. The system they established was not based on unlimited majority rule, but on its opposite: on individual rights, which were not to be alienated by majority vote or minority plotting. The individual was not left at the mercy of his neighbors or his leaders: the Constitutional system of checks and balances was scientifically devised to protect him from both. This was the great American achievement—and if concern for the actual welfare of other nations were our present leaders’ motive, this is what we should have been teaching the world.” (Ayn Rand, “Theory and Practice,” Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, 138.)
All quotes from the selection on “America” from the Ayn Rand Lexicon (Copyright © 1986 by Harry Binswanger. Introduction copyright © 1986 by Leonard Peikoff. All rights reserved. For information address New American Library.) on the Website of the Ayn Rand Institute (Copyright © 2009 Ayn Rand® Institute (ARI). All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited. ARI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.)
Ms. Rand has some astute comments on the Founding Fathers, too.