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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Benjamin Franklin on property

All property, indeed, except the savage's temporary cabin, his bow, his match-coat, and other little acquisitions absolutely necessary for his subsistence, seems to me to be the creature of public convention . . . All the property that is necessay to a man for the conservation of the individual and the propagation of the species is his natural right, which none can justly deprive him of; but all property superfluous to such purposes is the property of the public, who by their laws have created it, and who may therefore by other laws dispose of it whenever the welfare of the public shall demand such a disposition.

(Letter to Robert Morris, Dec. 25th 1783; cf. Bigelow, John, ed.,The Works of Benjamin Franklin, New York, 1904)