Joe’s previous post and comments caused me to begin pondering the concept of Rights: what Rights are and where Rights come from. (This is the first post pondering this subject, there will be 1 or more to follow.)
In 1828, Noah Webster published (click title and link to online version.)
What do Americans today conceptualize with the term “Rights”? Do modern Americans conceptualize and perceive, something they believe to be rights, as something to be obtained or granted personally from and through “Government”, either:
- directly from the federal government in the form of law, order, or regulation? or
- through enforcement of a Judge’s decree from a Court?
Can one obtain a “right” from government? Is this thought accurate? Is this concept and exercise “reality”? Is this conceptualization TRUE ?
Historically, 200 years ago, how did learned men conceptualize “rights”? Who did “men” look to for understanding, articulating, guaranteeing, and enumerating their Rights?
Do modern Americans confuse the idea, or ideal, of “rights” with “Privileges”?
The term “Right” often is used pejoratively. Is “Right” a pejorative?
Or is “Right” something to aspire to?
For now, I ask you to consider the 1828 definition of Right as explained by Webster’s Dictionary of 1828, online:
RIGHT, adjective rite. [Latin rectus, from the root of rego, properly to strain or stretch, whence straight.]
Properly; strained; stretched to straightness; hence,
1. Straight. A right line in geometry is the shortest line that can be drawn or imagined between two points. A right line may be horizontal, perpendicular, or inclined to the plane of the horizon.
2. In morals and religion, just; equitable; accordant to the standard of truth and justice or the will of God. That alone is right in the sight of God, which is consonant to his will or law; this being the only perfect standard of truth and justice. In social and political affairs, that is right which is consonant to the laws and customs of a country, provided these laws and customs are not repugnant to the laws of God. A man’s intentions may be right though his actions may be wrong in consequence of a defect in judgment.
3. Fit; suitable; proper; becoming. In things indifferent, or which are regulated by no positive law, that is right which is best suited to the character, occasion or purpose, or which is fitted to produce some good effect. It is right for a rich man to dress himself and his family in expensive clothing, which it would not be right for a poor man to purchase. It is right for every man to choose his own time for eating or exercise.
RIGHT is a relative term; what may be right for one end, may be wrong for another.
4. Lawful; as the right heir of an estate.
5. True; not erroneous or wrong; according to fact.
If there be no prospect beyond the grave, the inference is certainly right ‘let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’
6. Correct; passing a true judgment; not mistaken or wrong.
You are right justice, and you weigh this well.
7. Not left; most convenient or dextrous; as the right hand, which is generally most strong or most convenient in use.
8. Most favorable or convenient.
The lady has been disappointed on the right side.
9. Properly placed, disposed or adjusted; orderly; well regulated.
10. Well performed, as an art or act.
11. Most direct; as the right way from London to Oxford.
12. Being on the same side as the right hand; as the right side.
13. Being on the right hand of a person whose face is towards the mouth of a river; as the right bank of the Hudson.
1. In a right or straight line; directly.
Let thine eyes look right on. Proverbs 4:11.
2. According to the law or will of God, or to the standard of truth and justice; as, to judge right
3. According to any rule of art.
You with strict discipline instructed right
4. According to fact or truth; as, to tell a story right
5. In a great degree; very; as right humble; right noble; right valiant. [Obsolescent or inelegant.]
6. It is prefixed to titles; as in right honorable; right reverend.
RIGHT, is used elliptically for it is right what you say is right it is true, etc.
RIGHT, cries his lordship.
On the right on the side with the right hand.
1. Conformity to the will of God, or to his law, the perfect standard of truth and justice. In the literal sense, right is a straight line of conduct, and wrong a crooked one. right therefore is rectitude or straightness, and perfect rectitude is found only in an infinite Being and his will.
2. Conformity to human laws, or to other human standard of truth, propriety or justice. When laws are definite, right and wrong are easily ascertained and understood. In arts, there are some principles and rules which determine what is right In many things indifferent, or left without positive law, we are to judge what is right by fitness or propriety, by custom, civility or other circumstances.
3. Justice; that which is due or proper; as, to do right to every man.
Long love to her has borne the faithful knight, and well deserv’d had fortune done him right
4. Freedom from error; conformity with truth or fact.
Seldom your opinions err, your eyes are always in the right
5. Just claim; legal title; ownership; the legal power of exclusive possession and enjoyment. In hereditary monarchies, a right to the throne vests in the heir on the decease of the king. A deed vests the right of possession in the purchaser of land. right and possession are very different things. We often have occasion to demand and sue for rights not in possession.
6. Just claim by courtesy, customs, or the principles of civility and decorum. Every man has a right to civil treatment. The magistrate has a right to respect.
7. Just claim by sovereignty; prerogative. God, as the author of all things, has a right to govern and dispose of them at his pleasure.
8. That which justly belongs to one.
Born free, he sought his right
9. Property; interest.
A subject in his prince may claim a right
10. Just claim; immunity; privilege. All men have a right to the secure enjoyment of life, personal safety, liberty and property. We deem the right of trial by jury invaluable, particularly in the case of crimes. Rights are natural, civil, political, religious, personal, and public.
11. Authority; legal power. We have no right to disturb others in the enjoyment of their religious opinions.
12. In the United States, a tract of land; or a share or proportion of property, as in a mine or manufactory.
13. The side opposite to the left; as on the right Look to the right
1. To rights, in a direct line; straight. [Unusual.]
2. Directly; soon.
To set to rights,
To put to rights, to put into good order; to adjust; to regulate what is out of order.
Bill of rights, a list of rights; a paper containing a declaration of rights, or the declaration itself.
Writ of right a writ which lies to recover lands in fee simple, unjustly withheld from the true owner.
RIGHT, verb transitive
1. To do justice to; to relieve from wrong; as, to right an injured person.
2. In seamen’s language, to right a ship, is to restore her to an upright position from a careen.
To right the helm, to place it in the middle of the ship.
RIGHT, verb intransitive To rise with the masts erect, as a ship.