IN THE UNITED STATES, both liberalism and conservatism stem from the classical liberal theories that gained prominence in Europe and America with the writings of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Adam Smith, and John Stuart Mill. Classical liberalism was adopted and refined for American use by Thomas Jefferson and the supporters of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Under the guidance of James Madison, classical liberalism provided the foundation for the U.S. Constitution in 1787. As classical liberals, the Founding Fathers believed that rational human beings have the right to create governments that are designed to protect individuals from internal as well as external harm without trampling on basic human rights, such as the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

During the ...

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