Thursday, July 4, 2013

Who Really Wrote the Declaration of Independence?

A true character taught about liberty in the 1990s, Andrew J. Galambos.  Harry Browne wrote about him:
[H]e had a profound effect on thousands of individuals who took his courses — who in turn affected others. Undoubtedly the ripples from the stones he dropped eventually touched some of today's leading libertarians.
He was a fascinating mixture of contrasts. He combined a brilliant mind with an ungracious personality. He was an astrophysicist who taught social science. He preached the importance of respect for intellectual property, but freely lifted the ideas of others without giving them credit. He was dishonest, but he inspired others to be more honest. He disdained the word "libertarian" while turning thousands of people into libertarians. He was an insensitive teacher, and yet he apparently changed the lives of most of the people he taught.
The entire obituary of Galambos written by Browne is must reading. Browne says a lot of negative things about Galambos, but at the end of reading the obituary, the thought lingers: Who was this guy?  And the next thought is: Boy, I wish I could have sat in on one of his courses. They aren't any notes of his class. Browne reports, Galambos was very protective of his ideas and never put anything in writing. Indeed, Browne tells us:
He required every student entering one of his courses to sign a contract agreeing not to divulge any of the course ideas without permission from Galambos — and not even to use the ideas, in business or elsewhere, without permission. 
Thus, it came as a great surprise to me that one of the Galambos courses was recorded and is now online. The course was delivered in 1966 and titled The Declaration of Independence, Thomas Paine and Your Freedom.

Among many other points in the fascinating lecture series, Galambos makes clear that he believes that it was Thomas Paine not Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence. He has me convinced.

Further, Galambos makes a very strong case for Paine being the intellectual inspiration for the American revolutionists taking such a libertarian path.

The series is 3 sessions long, broken up into 7 tracks. It very much worth the time to listen to the entire series. You can find it here.


  1. I'm almost positive some friends of mine back in the 1980s had attended Galambos' course. Apparently, they didn't take the non-disclosure too seriously as they talked openly about the ideas of paying royalties up the line for any intellectual property in perpetuity (which, I admit, is even too much IP enforcement for me to swallow even though I agree with you on IP).

    But <a href="'>Kinsella hates Galambos</a>, which gives Galambos more credibility in my book. ;)

  2. Jefferson took a bunch of ideas almost verbatim from John Locke's "Second Discourse on Dissolution of Government." It is quite possible he took the ideas of Paine, especially the details of the long train of abuses from Paine who was at that time, still writing as "an Englishman." There also may have been some from James Otis.

    Note here that intellectual property was not a real concept among writers of the period.

    1. "Note here that intellectual property was not a real concept among writers of the period."

      I guess that explains the Copyright Clause in the U.S. Constitution.

  3. Sheeesh. Everyone knows it's President Obama. Ooooops, sorry that's the new revised edition...