I smell the blood of an Englishman.
Be he alive or be he dead,
I'll grind his bones to make my bread.”
Joseph Jacobs, Jack and the Beanstalk (1890)
In the first article, I quoted Zephaniah Swift’s “A System of Laws of the State of Connecticut”. Book Fourth, pg. 2, which was the first law book written in the United States and from this we see that self-defense was of grave concern. Here I will restate the second-half of his writing in which he mentions ‘property’:
“This right (of Self-Defense or Self-Preservation) extends not only to one’s self but is mutual between all persons that stand in the relation of husband and wife, parent and child, master and servant. If any man is attacked in his person or property, or with any of his relations in the above description be thus attacked, he has a right to resist, repel and defend against such forcible injury, by force and the aggressor must be responsible for all the consequences.”.
Why did Swift mention property in light of self-defense? Is not life more than what we own? Our lives cannot be replaced but our property can.
He mentioned property because of one thing and that is where the giant in Jack and the Beanstalk comes into play. I am 100% convinced that the giant was an owner of the property, which was his castle, and wanted nothing to do with those who sought to occupy or destroy it. How do I know this?
By the first word – ‘fee’. Parenthetically there are many theories swirling about the first sentence from mathematical references to historical intimations, but let’s not get lost in technicalities. The word ‘fee’ is from the French word ‘fe’ or ‘fieu’ which means the possession, holding or domain.
In the feudal system of land-lording, the aristocratic land owners possessed the land and the rest of us worked for them. We owned no land and had no rights to possession. Over time, due to feudal homage, those who served the kings, queens, and others of royalty were given land and thus the term ‘fee simple’ came into our vocabulary representing the highest form of property ownership.
I’ll ask again, why did Swift include property in his statement? I believe the reason is that property is intrinsically linked to our nature. What we spend our money on is a reflection of our interests thereby reflecting ourselves to the ‘outside’ world.
This then means that what we own is an extension of us and therefore has a right to be protected. If you own property, a home on land, you most likely own it ‘fee simple’ which contains rights and two of those are control and exclusion. The control means that you control the usage of your property. Exclusion means that others can be excluded from entering or using your property.
So now we have the ‘inalienable right’ to not only to self-defense but the right to protect that which we own, our property, our possessions and our rights to them. Hence Swift’s inclusion of the property in his article.
We can all be thankful that people like Swift had the foresight to understand that not only ourselves deserve to be protected but that our possessions deserved to have the same right. Our Founding Fathers could not have agreed more with Swift, and others like him, who saw that self-protection was one of the highest rights that man can have, be it here or in our castles.