The Origins of Our Commercial Republic
The American Founders set out to establish a modern, liberal, commercial republic. Their political theory derived primarily from Enlightenment theories of social contract and natural rights, which stressed the value of economic progress. But their idea of a commercial republic did not abandon ancient concepts of republicanism, which emphasized the need for virtuous self-sacrifice for the common or public good. They believed that a free economy would promote the moral character needed for republican self-government, and that if people were going to govern themselves politically, they had to govern themselves in their families, churches, local communities and economic markets.
For the Founders, commercial or economic rights were integrated with all natural human rights. In his Second Treatise of Civil Government, John Locke said,