Sanctity of Private Property


I know this is a long shot, but I’ve often seen the phrase “sanctity of private property” in English and I cannot find the original source of this formula. I’m sure it’s one of those things people say, but does anyone know who was the first to use this particular phrase?

10 thoughts on “Sanctity of Private Property

  1. my guess: first set of tablets for the Decalogue. because that’s how it seems to be used today (colloquially, but established by law).

    if this proves difficult to find, then my gut tells me it’s because this sanctity had to be broken in order to stop slavery.

    • Yeah, I just had a long talk with a more informed colleague, I think I’m going to reread Locke and some of that English Revolution stuff. He almost sent me back to Roman Law but then relented, I will be back in a couple of years with an answer.

  2. I do it all the time, Bryan, but it seems to work best when you are more specific. I even search some of the books I own because there’s no Index that can compare with a search option, especially if you’re chasing down a quote.

    In this case I am interested in the phrase itself, but of course also in the idea of the sanctity of private property itself, not necessarily in terms of the argument for what makes it sacred, but why people starting attributing this explicitly religious description to such seemingly secular nothing…

  3. See Entick v Carrington & Lord Camden’s ruling, “The great end, for which men entered into society, was to secure their property.” but someone noted property already sacred by that time.

    don’t know if this helps………

    Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, January/March 1978, vol. 1, No. 1 [1978]

    “Ambiguities About Liberty and Property :: And now to the ambiguities. The first is that the Americans developed a deep-seated reverence toward the sanctity of private property and simultaneously developed a strong anticapitalistic bias. The explanation of this adroit, if most unfortunate, intellectual feat lies in what the Americans read to confirm and systematize the love of liberty that was born of their heritage and environment. The seventeenth century writers they so respected—Sidney, Harrington, Locke, and the others—had been concerned with the political threat to the constitution imposed by the Stuarts’ attempts to establish executive tyranny in England. The eighteenth century writers who appropriated and carried on that body of thought, however, were concerned with what they saw as a new and different danger to liberty and the constitution, that imposed by what historians now refer to as the Financial Revolution.”

    and i also found arguments considering this point re: Kelo v. City of New London. recent US case concerning eminent domain.

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