'The Pursuit of Happiness': On John Adams and Egalitarianism in the Declaration of Independence

Center for American History and Culture Programs
American Political Thought Seminar
Wednesday, May 14, 2014

3:30-5 pm

Ruggles Hall

Danielle Allen, Institute for Advanced Study

John Adams played a much more significant role in the development of the Declaration of Independence than is conventionally recognized. Among his central contributions was to provide the definitive grounding for its egalitarianism in the concept of “happiness.” This was a move away from the slave-holding sections’ preferred commitment to “property.”

Danielle Allen is a political theorist who has published broadly in democratic theory, political sociology, and the history of political thought. Widely known for her work on justice and citizenship in both ancient Athens and modern America, Allen is the author of Why Plato Wrote (2010) and Our Declaration (Norton/Liveright, 2014). Allen is a frequent public lecturer and regular guest on public radio affiliates to discuss issues of citizenship.

The Seminar in American Political Thought is underwritten by the Jack Miller Center.