Property is the fruit of labor…property is desirable…is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another; but let him labor diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built…. I take it that it is best for all to leave each man free to acquire property as fast as he can. Some will get wealthy. I don’t believe in a law to prevent a man from getting rich; it would do more harm than good.
That’s Abraham Lincoln. The book The 5000 Year Leap goes on to discuss how the Founders and colonists were particularly sensitive to property issues, since the King had tried to “take their property through various kind os taxation without their consent.”
John Adams said “The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist.”
The book goes on to discuss taking from the “haves” to give to the “have nots.” “One of the worst sins of government, according to the Founders, was the exercise of its coercive taxing powers to take property from one group and give it to another.” It then cites James Madison:
Government is instituted to protect property of every sort… This being the end of government, that alone is not a just government,…nor is property secure under it, where the property which a man has in his personal safety and personal liberty is violated by arbitrary seizures of one class of citizens for the service of the rest.
The book says “In earlier years, the American courts held that the expropriating of property to transfer to other citizens was unlawful, being completely outside the constitutional power delegated to the government. It was not until after 1936 that the Supreme Court began arbitrarily distorting the meaning of the “general welfare” clause to permit the distribution of federal bounties as a demonstration of “concern” for the poor and the needy. Before that time, this practice was prohibited. The Supreme Court had declared: ‘no man would become a member of a community in which he could not enjoy the fruits of his honest labor and industry. The preservation of property, then, is a primary object of the social compact… The legislature, therefore, had no authority to make an act divesting one citizen of his freehold, and vesting it in another, without a just compensation. It is inconsistent with the principles of reason, justice, and moral rectitude; it is incompatible with the comfort, peace, and happiness of mankind; it is contrary to the principles of social alliance in every free government; and lastly, it is contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution.’ (2 Dall 304, 310 – PA 1795)”