“Unalienable” vs. “Inalienable”

15 Jul

The following is an email exchange between myself and one who listens to my be radio shows.  The listener was concerned that I regularly “mispronunciate” (as former President Bush would say) the word “unalienable”.  I explained that the “mispronunciation” is done intentionally to absolutely distinguish between the words “unalienable” (which implicates our Father YHWH Elohiym and is non-commercial) and “inalienable” (whose power is comparatively trivial).

Hi Alfred,

I’ve been enjoying your AIH broadcasts on 3215.0 kHz at 23:00 Eastern. You’ve been very informative…I feel that if I miss a show between Tuesdsay and Friday, I’ve fallen behind! I am particularly intrigued by the “all upper-case name” theory. You probably have heard from others that there’s virtually no place else to go in order to get the information and theoretical discussion you present, but let me add my voice to theirs.

I do have a question. You pronounce “unalienable” as “un-a-LEEN-able”…but the only pronunciation I’m aware of is “uhn-eyl-yuh-nuh-buh l” (, as in alien, alienate, etc., with the accent always on the “a”. It could just be that it jars my musician’s ears (I was a professional violinist before becoming a software architect), but is there some specific reason you pronounce it that way? In any event, this is a minor quibble about an otherwise-invaluable discussion. A discussion, I fear, that our current Administration will move to suppress soon…I hope to God I’m wrong. Keep informing us.

Best regards,


Hi Tom,

Thanks for listening; thanks for the compliments.

It’s not an accident that I pronounce “unalienable” the way I do.  I understand that most people pronounce it as you described and I understand that my “mis-pronouncing” the word will probably “jar” their “ear”.  While most of the world seems to pronounce “unalienable” as “un-A-lee-un-a-ble,” I intentionally pronounce the word “un-a-LEEN-a-ble”.

Why?  Because the meanings of the words “inalienable” and “unalienable” are vastly different and I wish to make absolutely clear whenever I use the latter instead of the former.

According to Black’s Law Dictionary (8th Edition; A.D. 2004), the definition of “inalienable” is:

“Not transferable or assignable. . . .  Also termed unalienable”.

Black‘s 8th does not even define “unalienable” and would thus  have us believe that the words “inalienable” and “unalienable” are synonymous.

But if we go back to Black‘s 2nd (A.D. 1910) we’ll see that “inalienable” was defined as:

Not subject to alienation; the characteristic of those things which cannot be bought or sold or transferred from one person to another such as rivers and public highways and certain personal rights; e.g., liberty.”

Black’s 2nd defines “unalienable” as:

Incapable of being aliened, that is, sold and transferred.”

At first glance the two terms seem pretty much synonymous.  However, while the word “inalienable” is “not subject to alienation,” the word “unalienable” is “incapable of being aliened”.  I believe the distinction between these two terms is this:

“Unalienable” is “incapable” of being aliened by anyone, including the man who holds something “unalienable”.  Thus, it is impossible for any individual to sell, transfer or otherwise dispose of an “unalienable Right”.  it is impossible for you to take one of my “unalienable rights”.  It is likewise impossible for me to even voluntarily surrender, sell or transfer one of my “unalienable rights”.  Once I have something “unalienable,” it’s impossible for me to get rid of it.  It would be easier to give up the color of my eyes or my heart than to give up that which is “unalienable”.

That which is “inalienable,” on the other hand, is merely “not subject to alienation”.  Black’s 2nd does not declare that it’s absolutely impossible for that which is “inalienable” to be sold, transferred or assigned.  Instead, I believe that “inalienable” merely means that “inalienable rights” are not subject to “alienation” by others.  That is, no one can compel me to sell, abandon or transfer any of my “inalienable” rights.  I am not “subject” to compelled “alienation” by others.

But that leaves open the question of whether I may am entitled to voluntarily and unilaterally sell, transfer, abandon or otherwise surrender that which is “inalienable”.  Thus, while it is impossible for me to abandon, or for government to take, my “unalienable rights,” it is possible for me to voluntarily waive my “inalienable” rights.  I strongly suspect that our gov-co presumes that our rights are at best “inalienable,” and that since we have not expressly claimed them, we could have and therefore must have waived them.

if we look at Bouvier’s Law Dictionary (A.D. 1856) we’ll see:

“INALIENABLE.  A word denoting the condition of those things the property in which cannot be lawfully transferred from one person to another.  Public highways and rivers are inalienable.  There are also many rights which are inalienable, as the rights of liberty or of speech.”

“UNALIENABLE.  Incapable of being transferred.  Things which are not in commerce, as, public roads, are in their nature unalienable.  Some things are unalienable in consequence of particular provisions of the law forbidding their sale or transfer; as, pensions granted by the government.  The natural rights of life and liberty are unalienable.”

Clearly, the words are not synonymous.  While “inalienable” rights can’t be “lawfully” transferred “to another,” they might nevertheless be waived by the holder or perhaps “unlawfully” (privately??) “transferred” to someone else.  However, those rights which are “unalienable” are absolutely incapable of being transferred lawfully, unlawfully, administratively, privately or by implication or operation of law.  that which you have, which is “unalienable,” is your wrists in an absolute sense that cannot possibly be discarded, transferred, sold, or otherwise abandoned.

Also, note that the word “unalienable” describes things which are “not in commerce”.  However, it appears that those things which are “inalienable” could be “in commerce”.  as you know, much of the trouble we have with the modern government is based on government’s claim of power to regulate all that is involved in interstate commerce.  In so far as you may be able to prove that any item or right you seek to use or exercise is “unalienable,” that item or write would be beyond the power of our government to regulate under interstate commerce.  You can see the power potential in “unalienable”.

Most importantly, as declared in the “Declaration of Independence,” all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.  Our unalienable rights flow from God and are not subject to man’s meddling.  Bouvier’s agrees by defining “unalienable” as including our “natural” rights (which flow from “nature’s God”).

Admittedly, both “inalienable” and “unalienable” are defined to include the concept of “liberty”.  Thus, there is some confusion, some overlap, in the two definitions. Some things may be both “inalienable and also “unalienable”.  Therefore, my argument about the distinctions between the two terms is not necessarily as pristine as I would like.

Nevertheless, the two terms are significantly different and virtually all of the real power will be found in the word “unalienable” rather than in the word “inalienable”.  Those things which are “unalienable” are from God, outside of commerce, and impossible to “alienate” by external force or by personal consent.  “Inalienable” offers no advantages that I’m able to see as compared to “unalienable”.  “Inalienable” offers some possible disadvantages such as the possibility that you might be allowed to voluntarily waive whatever “inalienable” rights you possess.

I conclude that while there may be some confusion between the two terms, “unalienable” offers great and absolute power while “inalienable” is far weaker, more conditional, and probably subject to at least some “alienation”.

So why take a chance?  Why not make it your business to ensure that every time you have a chance to use one word or the other you always choose to use “unalienable”?  Why not use the exact word (“unalienable”) that was used by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence?

While the words “inalienable” and “unalienable” have significantly different meanings, their “sounds” are almost identical and only a highly-tuned “ear” will note the distinction in sound and then meaning between them.  I believe our modern gov-co fears and detests “unalienable” but doesn’t much mind that we use the word “inalienable”.  The first term is lethal to gov-co powers; the second is not particularly threatening.

I visited the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC about five years ago.  I was amazed to see that the Jefferson Memorial includes an excerpt from the “Declaration of Independence” attributed to Jefferson that referred to our “inalienable Rights”.  But the text of the Declaration of Independence” expressly refers to our “unalienable Rights”.  Thus, the “Declaration of Independence” is misquoted in 12″ high letters that are carved in stone.  I couldn’t be more surprised if the gov-co has misspelled Jefferson’s name.

I cannot believe that the designers and builders of the Jefferson Memorial misspelled “unalienable” or “accidentally” replaced “unalienable” with “inalienable”.  This change was done intentionally and because the word “inalienable” is trivial while the word “unalienable” is powerful to a spiritual degree.

I am discouraged to realize that tens of millions (maybe hundreds of millions) of Americans have visited the Jefferson Memorial without realizing that “inalienable” had been substituted for “unalienable”.  I doubt that I’m the first to recognize that substitution, but I’ve never heard of anyone previously understanding and objecting to that substitution.

The difference between “inalienable” and “unalienable” is similar to the difference between a bean blower and a 50 caliber rifle.  They both fire projectiles, but where the flying beans are virtually harmless, the 50 caliber bullets are absolutely lethal.

Therefore, I intentionally “mispronunciate” (as our former President Bush might say) the word “unalienable” to “jar” each listener’s “ear” and make absolutely clear that they’ve just heard the explosive “BOOM!” of a 50 caliber rifle every time I “pull the trigger” and not a mere bean blower’s “phfffft”.


Dear Alfred,

Thanks for the fantastically detailed reply. I, too, have noted the use and misuse of “unalienable” vs. “inalienable”. I’m going to read your text a few more time to “drink in” the full essence of what you’re saying. I should have known better, having listened to you for many tens of hours, that you not only say what you mean but say it AS you mean! Difference between a “bean blower and .50 caliber rifle”!! Amen!

As I write to you from  within The County of Montgomery located within the boundaries of The State of Pennsylvania (uh-oh…what do I do with “Commonwealth”?) one of the several states of the perpetual Union…I love it. Please make the topic of “Commonwealth” the subject of a talk soon…I really want to hear your take on it.

And, finally, Romans pretty much says it all, doesn’t it. My favorite after The General Epistle of James.

Best regards,



Posted by on July 15, 2009 in Unalienable Rights


53 responses to ““Unalienable” vs. “Inalienable”

  1. Owen

    October 10, 2009 at 1:06 PM

    Does the monument perhaps have to do with Jefferson’s acceptance of slavery? Is it changed on purpose?

    I must say, I learned something today. Thanks you.

    • adask

      October 10, 2009 at 5:31 PM

      It’s virtually inconceivable that the people who created the Jefferson Memorial “accidentally” used “inalienable” rather than the word “unalienable” that JEFFERSON, himself, actually used in the “Declaration of Independence”.
      “They”–the treasonous whores in the cat-house on the Potomac who run our purported “government” and are bent on destroying the foundation for this country–don’t want you and I to even remember the word “unalienable” let alone understand its political and spiritual significance.

      • Eddy

        November 11, 2009 at 11:16 PM

        Jefferson’s version, displayed in Philadelphia, New York, and Boston all use inalienable, not unalienable.

        The final copies of the Declaration, and drafts by John Adams, use unalienable.

        So the quotation is correct unless it’s attributed to a final version.

      • Tommy Mariner

        July 4, 2011 at 7:00 PM

        Jefferson used the word “inalienable” along with inherent in his draft. Jefferson also used inalienable in versions of the Declaration of Independence when her wrote it out in his hand such as the one held by the Massachusetts Historical Society. The designers of the Jefferson Memorial were being true to Mr. Jefferson’s belief, not trying to subvert meanings as you seem to believe. Jefferson as a deist was less sanguine about using unalienable.

        The Virginian chose in his draft “inherent” for that part of rights derived from simply being a person which could not be given or taken away. The words “inherent and inalienable” also show up in the June 1776 Virginia Rights statement authored by Madison. Perhaps Jefferson in his draft Declaration chose “inalienable” for the parts of rights that the government might be able to allow a person to give away. Adams and Franklin pushed for “unalienable” because they believed in God given rights that were not negotiable. Jefferson’s inherent word was struck, perhaps because it was felt unalienable covered those rights being identified. Adam’s draft and later versions of the Declaration which Adams could influence used the stronger unalienable (stronger from their perspective though perhaps not from Jefferson’s). Jefferson continued to use “inalienable” in his versions – an author’s choice Adams could not change.

        Perhaps legal definitions are blurring the lines between the words, and that is problematic. But I do not think the monument is part of that. They are simply trying to be true to Mr. Jefferson’s ideas expressed in his writings in the pre-photo copy era.

      • Adask

        July 4, 2011 at 8:20 PM

        There may also have been times that Jefferson also used the words “watchamacallit” and “thingamajig”. He may even have used a four-letter word from time to time. Would we want to see those words in the Jefferson Memorial?

        Jefferson is probably most famous for his contribution to writing the “Declaration of Independence” and in that document the word used was “unalienable”. If there were one set of words attributed to Jefferson that we should expect to see on his Memorial, it should be words from the Declaration.

        It strikes me as virtually inconceivable that those in charge of designing the Jefferson Memorial (begun in A.D. 1939 and finished in A.D. 1943 under the FDR administration) would “accidentally” choose to sculpt the word “inalienable” rather that “unalienable” into the wall of that building. I don’t know what their motive was, but unless they architect et al were colossally ignorant, they must have had a reason to write “inalienable” rather than “unalienable”. I am unable to image that reason as being “good” or “innocent”.

  2. Dan

    November 15, 2009 at 6:27 PM

    Isn’t a final version final and a draft a draft.

    In my opinion, unalienable was used in the final draft to show the strength of rights given by God the Creator. That these rights are above the government and encroachment would be avoided.

  3. revphil

    April 12, 2010 at 10:13 AM

    TJ was more into humans claiming rights then a proposed “creator” bestowing them.

    • John

      April 23, 2012 at 10:41 AM

      “And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure, when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of god? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice can not sleep forever….” –Thomas Jefferson (Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, “Manners,” 1782)

  4. washburn

    July 4, 2010 at 12:21 PM

    Eddy is correct. The reason that “inalienable” is on the Jefferson Memorial is because that was his word. “Unalienable” was Adams word. The Declaration underwent heavy revision after Jefferson was finished with it. It is completely appropriate to have “inalienable” on the memorial, since “unalienable” was not his choice. To suggest the designers of the memorial made some nefarious, intentional change is pure conspiracy theory.

    • adask

      July 4, 2010 at 3:50 PM

      Suggesting a nefarious purpose behind the use of “inalienable” in the Jefferson Memorial may be another “pure” (and absurd) “conspiracy theory”.
      But suggesting that Jefferson (who, rightly or wrongly, is credited with being the primary author of the “Declaration of Independence”–THE foundational document for what would become The United States of America) is not responsible for using the word “unalienable” (perhaps THE key word in that Declaration) because that was “Adams’ word” strikes me as an at least equally absurd “anti-conspiracy theory”.
      Is there a footnote to the Declaration where Jefferson expressly objected to the use of “unalienable” and declared his personal preference for “inalienable”? Did Jefferson go to his grave an angry and bitter man because, over his strenuous objection, he was forced to use “unalienable” rather than “inalienable” in the Declaration?
      If “unalienable” was “John Adams’ word,” did John coin it? Did he claim a copyright or trademark on “his” word? If “unalienable” is strictly John Adams’ “word,” why don’t we credit John with authoring the Declaration since he must’ve had the “last word” in deciding which words might be used in that document? What makes anyone think that anyone can “own” exclusive right to the use a particular word?
      It is undoubtedly true that Jefferson, at various times in his life, used the words “inalienable” and “unalienable”. It is definitely true that the single text for which Jefferson is most famous is the Declaration. It is likewise certain that the single most famous and legally significant use of the word “unalienable” that can be attributed to Jefferson appeared in the Declaration. Whatever Adam’s relation to “unalienable” may be, the fact remains that Jefferson actually USED the word “unalienable” in the Declaration–the single most spiritually, legally and politically important document of his life.
      So what possible reason of any substance could explain the use of “inalienable” in the Jefferson Memorial? That use can’t be an accident; it must be a choice. If that choice were made out of respect for Adams, why are we taught that in schools?
      It therefore seems virtually inconceivable that the people who designed and built the Jefferson Memorial would accidentally engraved the word “inalienable” based on some alleged “preference” by Jefferson as opposed to his actual act of writing “unalienable” in the Declaration.
      It therefore seems that the purported “conspiracy theory” concerning the use of “inalienable” in Jefferson Memorial is at least as valid as similar “conspiracy theories” about the Kennedy assassination, the attack on the Branch Davidians, the bombing at the Alfred Murrah Building in OKC, and the 911 attacks on the World Trade Center.
      Could my speculation concerning the use of the word “inalienable” in the Jefferson Memorial be mistaken. Absolutely. I have only circumstantial evidence to support my conclusion. Should my speculation be dismissed as a mere “conspiracy theory”? I’d say No. Just because evidence is not yet available to prove a particular allegation or hypothesis, that doesn’t necessarily prove the allegation/hypothesis is false and deserves to be relegated to the “ash heap” of “conspiracy theories”. There are things in this world that are true even though they may be as yet unproven.

      • Ken

        February 22, 2013 at 12:57 AM

        As amazing as I believe most all of your insights to be, and the vast difference between inalienable and unalienable is perfectly on target, I find myself, as a “conspiracy theorist” believing that most everything IS a conspiracy (Including the Titanic and Sandy Hook and this 65 year old guy in Alabama who had the defense secretary after him for shooing a bus driver) must respectfully disagree in the side issue of the intent in the Jeffferson Memorial.

        Having just “danced” there myself just a few days ago, facts are pesky things. Jefferson DID continue to argue against “UN” and write his copies with “IN”. It would be impossible not to attribute Jefferson with “IN” in HIS memorial without conspiring to misrepresent HIS ideals. It would be a conspiracy to attribute a word which he argued against to him…

      • Adask

        February 22, 2013 at 5:06 AM

        I’ve never heard that Jefferson ever argued against “unalienable,” but that is still the actual word used in the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson is largely credited with writing the Declaration, but I’ve heard that others were involved. It’s conceivable that Jefferson didn’t want to write “unalienable” from the beginning–but was overruled by the others who helped draft the Declaration. In the alternative, after the Declaration was first “published,” Jefferson may have changed his mind and wished that they’d written “inalienable” rather than “unalienable” on the Declaration. But facts, as you point out, are “pesky things” and the facts are these:

        1) The word used in the Declaration of Independence is “unalienable”.

        2) The relevant text that’s carved in stone in the Jefferson Monument includes several excerpts from the Declaration of Independence–these words are not from some letter Jefferson later wrote to Sally or some speech he made to the Daughters of the Revolution. Thus, the text on the wall should be consistent with the words in the Declaration, not some other document that might’ve been drafted by Jefferson.

        3) The relevant text carved in stone at the Jefferson Memorial includes the word “inalienable”.

        4) The word “inalienable” does not appear in the Declaration of Independence.

        5) The text carved in stone at the Jefferson Memorial mistakenly or fraudulently portrays text from the Declaration as using the word “inalienable” rather than “unalienable”.

        6) Thomas Jefferson’s alleged druthers as to whether “inalienable” or “unalienable” should’ve been used in the Declaration are irrelevant. The fact is, the Declaration did, in fact, use the word “unalienable”.

        7) The Jefferson Memorial’s use of the word “inalienable” instead of “unalienable” is either a bizarre mistake that’s been allowed to persist for roughly 70 years, or it’s evidence that the Powers That Be don’t want folks to understand and use the word “unalienable” to describe any of their Rights.

        8) It’s not about Jefferson’s personal ideals. It’s about the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson has been linked to the Declaration of Independence, and based on that linkage, we see the Jefferson Memorial. If you are correct and Jefferson’s personal ideals were, in fact, contrary to the ideals expressed by the Declaration then the solution is obvious: correct history books to reflect the disassociation between Jefferson and Declaration, degrade Jefferson’s historical status from that of a Founder to that of a kook, remove Jefferson’s statue from the memorial, and change the name of the Jefferson Memorial to the “Declaration of Independence Memorial” or perhaps change the name to that of whichever man (or woman) actually wrote the Declaration–including the word “unalienable”. In the end, the Jefferson Memorial was not dedicated to Thomas Jefferson so much as dedicated to the man (or woman) who drafted the actual Declaration of Independence. If Jefferson’s not that guy, move his ass out of that memorial and make room for a statue of whoever is the real author of the Declaration.

        Regardless of who was the real author of the Declaration of Independence, and regardless of anyone’s personal preferences, change the word “inalienable” on the inside of the Jefferson Memorial to correctly reflect the word that’s used, in fact, on the Declaration of Independence: “unalienable”.

  5. Joy

    July 4, 2010 at 7:13 PM

    Thank you, this was educational so, now, I’ll use both words, one in ( ), to perhaps help others check this out. I like un’s meaning and thank you very much. I needed to learn this. Thanks. Love, Joy

    • adask

      July 4, 2010 at 7:33 PM

      My pleasure.

      • J.M.

        March 2, 2014 at 2:41 PM

        July 4, 2010 at 7:33 PM
        @ >My pleasure.

        UNalienable. I like that word. I am INagreement with you, Alfred Adask

        Yes, it was & IS a pleasure to be in HARMONY with ANYONE who sees the PLAIN TRUTH. It’s almost UNbelievable how something SO simple cannot be SEEN. Just cannot let “well” enough alone. SAME problem with the Holy Bible. BUT we both KNOW who the adversary IS. ANYTHING with even a smidgen of the Good LORD’S “touch” will be mocked, etc. As “Skip Robinson” says, there are some devious people in this world. The Holy Bible has a little something to say about this TOO as YOU, Alfred Adask, WELL know. Devious people. ain’t no end of umm

  6. Nate

    April 2, 2011 at 1:24 AM

    Congress in 1776 is just like Congress now. A final version of a bill is almost always different from when it was first introduced, as members tack on additions and make countless amendments. Jefferson wrote his version of the Declaration while the Congress was in recess, going through many drafts and making many edits, until he finalized a version he thought was perfect. He submitted it, and then the Congress butchered it, much to Jefferson’s chagrin. Jefferson is to have said that he believed every word of the version he submitted, but his displeasure with the final version was apparent. The use of the word “inalienable” is out of respect for Jefferson’s preferred draft. And I’m sure Jefferson understood the difference.

    • Adask

      April 2, 2011 at 1:33 PM

      Jefferson is given credit for writing the Declaration. Madison and others are credited with writing the original Constitution. Insofar as we believe that the “Founders” wrote those documents, we tend to give the “Founders” great respect.
      But who really “authored” (not wrote) those documents? Who is the “authority” behind those documents?
      It’s not the Founders.
      The “authority” is We the People.
      We the People “authored” the Declaration by fighting and winning the Revolutionary War.
      We the People “authored” the Constitution by voting to ratify the Constitution in private conventions.
      Jefferson might’ve drafted a score of possible Declarations. Which one is the “real” Declaration? The one that the People approved.
      Writing the Constitution may seem like some heroic task, but in the end, no matter who wrote the Constitution, it had no “authority” until We the People agreed to ratify it.
      I have great respect for the “Founders,” but they were only men. I try not to regard them as some sort of aristocracy. They wrote down a few proposals. That was nice. But the People approved and authorized a few of the specific proposals advanced by the Founders and those approvals provided the AUTHORITY that made the “Founders'” proposals memorable.
      In the end, I don’t much care what Jefferson or Madison said. I only care about what the People authorized.
      The Declaration is the People’s law. The Constitution is the People’s law.
      As such, the only parties who should be able to judge and interpret the People’s law are the People. The Declaration and Constitution mean what the People say they mean.
      If you have a constitutional issue, that issue should be resolved by the authors (then and now) of the Constitution: the People. Constitutional issues should be decided by juries (not judges) or elections (not executive orders or statutes).
      However, in A.D. 1803, in the case of Marbury vs Madison, the Supreme Court declared that it–not the People–was the final arbiter as to what the Constitution said and meant. That decision (just 27 years after the Declaration and 15 years after ratification of the Constitution) marked the first great victory by the government over the People. When the People allowed the Supreme Court to usurp the People’s right, power and authority to judge their own law, this Nation began to slide towards the institutionalized treason we now endure.

      • davidmerrill2

        November 11, 2011 at 4:13 AM

        Sure enough at the beginning of Line 4 – “unalieable”, not “inalienable”.

        A good book about JEFFERSON’s Declaration is Inventing America by Garry WILLS.

        That book came to my attention because of the reference to admiralty originally having a high tide mark atop Pikes Peak!

        Yesterday I went to the federal repository for a copy of a case that speaks of both unalienable and inalienable.

        “There is a passage in America’s most revered document, with which every American school child should be familiar, towit: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among Men, * * *.’ Declaration of Independence.

        “Inalienable is defined as incapable of being surrendered or transferred; at least without one’s consent. Webster’s New Int. Dictionary, Second Ed. Vol. 2, page 1254.

        “The [**13] Declaration is regarded by the American people as expressing their views of the fundamental purpose of Government. We believe that every human being is endowed by God with the inalienable right to live. The fact that the subject is the infant child of a parent who, arbitrarily, puts his own theological belief higher than his duty to preserve the life of his child cannot prevail over the considered judgment of an entire people, in a case such as this. The other rights, liberty and the pursuit [*102] of happiness, are of no benefit to a dead baby. Unless we are to say, in effect, that the ‘Immortal Document’ consists of a collection of beautiful sounding platitudes and meaningless phrases, ‘* * * as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal,’ [HN2] Missouri has the power to interfere in the interests of one of its infant citizens, helpless in its own behalf, and to take such steps as may be necessary to preserve its life, over the protest of its father.

        “Blackstone, in Book 1, Section 447, (published 1765) said: ‘The duty of parents to provide for the maintenance of their children, is a principle of natural law; an obligation, says Puffendorf…”

        Some might say this settles it then. Equally one way or another. The judge either thinks they are identical terms or is slipping into “inalienable” to acquire consent without intent…

        It makes me miss my conversations from the mountaintops – especially from Mount Herman with Alfred Norman.

        I miss the reverberation through the living tissue of heritage and destiny – advanced-resonance inductive plasma physics and the numero-linguistic interface. The sound Matthew THORNTON in the echo chamber:

      • davidmerrill2

        November 11, 2011 at 8:37 AM

        I should have included this link with that comment about Mount Herman:

      • davidmerrill2

        November 11, 2011 at 5:14 PM

        P.S. Interestingly, Mount Herman is on that same Golden Spiral…

      • davidmerrill2

        November 11, 2011 at 10:54 PM

        That last P.S. was posted hours before the new episode of Fringe – featuring extentions of the Fibonacci Golden Spiral!

      • Itasca Small

        April 11, 2015 at 6:48 PM

        I am intrigued by this discussion of inalienable and unalienable! To which I would like to add an observation I do not see reflected here. However, your particular exposition of the People’s “natural” AUTHORITY – may I say: “inherent” and “unalienable” in We the People of these united States – in this reply, is the most germaine extension to the original comparison of “inalienable” and “unalienable” of the entire discussion! The treason of Chief “Justice” John Marshall, and the failure of We the People to hang him and the concurring “justices” for their treasonous act in seizing and usurping authority not vested in the Judiciary by the Constitution in the name of We the People, was the turning point from Liberty to Tyranny. You are absolutely correct:

        “When the People allowed the Supreme Court to usurp the People’s right, power and authority to judge their own law, this Nation began to slide towards the institutionalized treason we now endure.”

        It is fascinating how far intelligent people can slide down the Slippery Slope into the Rabbit Hole of inconsequential dissection of what individual earned credit for a momentous historical mile marker.

        The Jefferson Memorial/Declaration of Independence incongruity regarding the subject words is an interesting and valuable addition to the initial reason for defining these two words that DOES mean “a hill of beans” to the founding and the restoration of our Constitutional Republic. Particularly because words do matter, and these two words HAVE been deliberately confused by those who most assuredly have drawn our nation down that Slippery Slope toward the abyss of collectivist tyranny. As they have consciously, and with malice aforethought, subverted and perverted the past century of Jefferson’s brainchild, public education, to focus and concentrate the “education” of Americans into indoctrination and transformation, away from our Biblical Foundation and to the enslavement of our nation.

        (Perhaps Jefferson, in spite of his other stellar achievements as a Founder of these United States of America, was following the same philosophical bent that caused him to insist upon citing “inalienable” rights in his draft and subsequent iterations of his version of OUR Declaration, in his concept of public education. After all, the “democratic” device implemented to create a public education system must always derive from the basic tenet of collectivism: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” And, that principle most certainly does not recognize “unalienable natural rights” derived from God and inherent in human beings! Witness the current extent to which the collectivist revolutionaries have succeeded thus far in indoctrinating We the People, culminating in the Common Core State Standards Initiative/College and Career Readiness agenda. The century of public education projected by Col. E. M. House on page 156 of the 1920 edition of, “Philip Dru: Administrator: A Story of Tomorrow: 1920-1935,” c.1912, has been attained. Today’s Progressive/Collectivist “education” revolutionaries spawned by House, John Dewey,, can “smell the water,” as they envision the Common Core setting the capstone on the transformed United States of Amerika in their evil nightmares.)

        But, to seize the Memorial/Declaration controversy at the expense of diversion from the underlying philosophical importance of the original word-comparison to the survival of our nation’s soul is to obfuscate the vast expanse existing between the meanings of “inalienable” and “unalienable.”

        It is, indeed, most refreshing to find someone else who sees the gateway event that began the critical divergence from our Liberty under God to the underpinnings of secular humanist tyranny we live in today. It was most certainly the infamous Marbury vs. Madison decision spearheaded by the equally infamous Chief “Justice” John Marshall! who proceeded to use his 34 year-reign to solidify the coup d’etat he had achieved without successful opposition. Thank you!

        As for my observation regarding the two words initiating this discussion, the late Officer Jack McLamb is the one who alerted me, in 1992, to the importance of “unalienable rights” in the official Declaration of Independence. As I recall, in his exposition, he pronounced it as: “un’ a leen’ a ble” and associated it with “lien,” as he explained that it meant rights that could not be taken away or infringed. I looked it up later and believe that I found it in my older dictionary with the “un’ a leen’ a ble” pronunciation. (I will check this next week when I have access to that dictionary!) I don’t recall if the definition invoked the association with “lien” or not. But, by some path, I understood it to mean something that could not be taken away, AND, something that could not have a lien attached to it as a claim against it; in this case, “unalienable rights” cannot be taken away AND cannot be subjected to any externally-attached encumbrance.

        Thank you very much for this discussion and the opportunity to weigh-in at this late date!

  7. Dominick Mastroserio not (DOMINICK MASTROSERIO)

    May 26, 2011 at 8:48 PM

    I am convinced that if, in the Jefferson monument the the vowel “u” was replaced by the vowel “i” in twelve foot letters that it could not have been unintentional.

    Why I remember that in the movie “1776” – a musical comedy – there was a spoof going about which word Jefferson was to use – the one with the “u” or the “i” in the Declaration of Independence between “Jefferson” and I can’t remember who the Founder-adviser was – and the one with the “i” was chosen.

    Now, that movie was a hit Broadway play and so reached a huge audience which further eroded the knowledge and memory of the fact that the word “unalienable” was penned onto the actual document by its author, Thomas Jefferson.

    Who can tell in how many venues and books this error exists and for how long its been perpetrated.

    The damage is done, however and for all those people who think quibbling and splitting hairs is above them and a waste of time, let this “mystery” be a lesson.

    Which reminds me of the joke among fast and loose Catholic theologians who made merry about St. Thomas Aquinas’ anectdotally “trying to figure out how many angels fit onto the head of a needle”, not realizing that their blasphemy exposed their heretical mindsets.

    This “mystery” about the disappearence of awareness as to the meaning of “unalienable” and “inalienable” due to malevolent misrepresentations foisted upon Americans by the forces of pride and pain that clandestinely manipulate them is not only treasonous but blasphemous and heretical as well.

  8. Randy Cox

    January 28, 2012 at 11:58 PM

    Jefferson is in my family tree. The subject of rights were discussed for many years before the birth of our nation and many years after it. Jefferson always believed inalienable rights belonged to everyone, forever. He believed the rights extended by the constitution were given by God and recognized by the constitution. Many others, maybe most of that day, did not believe the constitution should apply to any but a citizen. Jefferson would have been appalled at the idea, that “Terrorists have no rights”.

    I don’t believe there is any inherent difference in the meaning of “inalienable” or “unalienable” as the meanings of a word are those in the mind of the people using it. I’ll keep using Jefferson’s spelling as it opens the discussion to the history of the word. I don’t think either is right or wrong, but an expression of the mind of our founding fathers. They did not always agree as we do not agree today. I’d just like those who feel fine abusing the “inalienable” rights of non-citizens who have been accused of “terrorism” without due process of law to know Jefferson would not have approved of their fascism.

  9. BJ MItchell

    February 26, 2012 at 10:13 PM

    I’d never heard the term unalienable prior to MLK’s, “I Have A Dream” speech, at which time I
    puled out Webster’s College dictionary and could not locate the word anywhere — the Constituion speaks to “inalienable rights” (those which cannot be taken from one), so where is the term
    unalienable derived?

    • Adask

      February 27, 2012 at 1:41 AM

      Declaration of Independence.

      • J.M.

        March 2, 2014 at 10:00 PM

        @ BJ Mtchell > so where is the term
        unalienable derived?

        @ Adask >Declaration of Independence.

        Huh? What’s that?

  10. Melissa

    July 19, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    I cannot thank you enough for this clarification. It is very eye-opening indeed. Inalienable vs Unalienable truly is the most important word in the Declaration of Independence and I did not appreciate the significance until reading your blog.
    If you look up ‘unalienable’ in the dictionary, the only “definition” it gives is “a variant of the word ‘inalienable”. I truly did not realize the significance of this until finding this blog. They are most definitely NOT synonyms. Can we say “1984”??
    The reason I even began my search into the importance, or no importance of this word is through my research of UN Agenda 21. Erasing the word UNalienable and replacing everything with INalienable is absolutely in every aspect possible THE key to a One World Government where our individual rights are “voluntarily waived/forfited” for the greater good. And YES, as an individual of “We The People” I approve UNalienable regardless who wrote the rough draft or who edited it for the final draft, and will fight to keep it.
    It is so sad to know that the road we are on now started in 1803. It breaks my heart that people are so evil with an insatiable lust for power, that something so great as the beginning of America was already being corrupted within only a few decades. I weep for the America that we should have.

    I beg you, if you have not heard of Agenda 21 to please check out this website and click the “Part 1 – General Overview of Agenda 21” link about 2/3rds of the way down on the right.

    Oh, and FDR was a piece of crap president. A whiny brat, too.
    Can you believe U.S. History in high school was wrong? (sarcastic of course)

    God Bless America

  11. Timothy Ramich

    October 16, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    Alfred, I think you are pronouncing it correctly. I think the pronunciation we hear used today is incorrect. I think the main point of the words is “lien,” therefore the word has anything to do with being alienated, but aliened. Uh-leend, not ay-lee-uhnd. A lien is a physical deed meant for the means of transferring some form of property. “Unalienable” therefore means you can’t put a lien on something. Here, in PA, our notaries have a minimum you report a car being purchased for before they allow you to get a lien on the title. Report a low number for a tax break, or honestly pay little for a car, the transaction renders the title unalienable. Inalienable might have “alien” in the word, I don’t know. This is likely why the fathers used “unalienable.”

  12. Peter

    November 3, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    I don’t mean to be picky, but you are using the word “term” as if it were synonymous with the word “word.” There is a distinction.
    Best regards

    • Adask

      November 3, 2012 at 2:28 PM

      I may have misused the word “term,” but when I use the word “word” I mean a single concept described by a single word. When I use the word “term,” I mean a single concept described by two or more words such as “unalienable Rights” or “return on investment”.

  13. Steph

    January 28, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    Lean with me! Lean with me! Remember Americans, the unalienable (UN-A-LEEN-ABLE) rights you have were given to you by God. The Admiralty Courts will alienate you and keep you in commerce/water where you THINK you have rights, but you’re speaking alien. Do not trust what you’ve been taught in “school.” Everything is contract; learn the language of legalese. LEAN ON!

  14. Brent

    June 27, 2013 at 3:26 AM

    Believe it or not I saw a commercial for Samuel Adams beer tonight and they used the unalienable word. I was immediately appalled. I pride myself on being in the know and had all through my school years including several years of college at LSU had only heard the inalienable version I immediately went to the web to confirm my position and the top 3 sites ALL said they were the same.
    Like I said I like to be in the know so I clicked on this site. I was so impressed that I actually read every post listed before I put my 2 cents in. First if my newfound knowledge is accurate the unalienable is a gift from The Lord that only he can take away and puts it out of reach from humans with all their weaknesses and faults. However inalienable was something we HAD to give up voluntarily by person or through laws enacted through elected officials ( our Government ) My final conclusion is that I feel I have been lied to from the beginning and that the government ( a body of men and composed mostly of lawyers quickly realized after the constitution was ratified that they had a problem and that is why I am in the camp of the unalienable crowd. But I have a different twist and welcome any comments excluding grammatical as this is composed on my I phone with only spell checker as my Copilot. . This is how I feel that it went down from the beginning. Please remember this also based on the lessons learned from the same people that lied to me but is also based on human nature.
    The United States was made of mostly of people coming here to escape an over taxed heavily regulated and religiously oppressed land. England is the country most credited and my heritage has my relatives coming over on the first boats of settlers in James town and they by the Grace of God survived the winter that took the majority of settlers. No bragging intended just given as a point of reference that my family tree has been heavily researched and documented to show some basis of knowledge on the subject.
    However there were other country men as well, France, The Swedes. The Fins, Spain and others less mentioned.
    The United States was to be different from where they came from and the diversity of the early settlers was a good beginning. That said England and her laws prevailed at the time. However the forefathers did have the insight that if not in written form and approved by the people a new country had little chance of standing the test of time and the ever manipulation of the people in charge.
    But just meeting to discuss such a thing was frowned on by the mother land and quickly punishable by DEATH.
    So the first draft was meant as a break from England and the use of inalienable would suffice. Because then England could only take that which they gave up willingly.
    However during the discussions in congress it was decided that this was a fresh start and a chance to start a country by the people and for the people. Something had NEVER been done before in any country to date. This country would be based on the one common belief they all shared and that if GOD came first then man came second so the unalienable and more appropriate word was chosen.
    They all were very aware that as soon as it went public that all bets were off and they would have a War they stood little chance of wining with England. So if your going to fight for something then let it be in the name of The Lord and the God given rights he gifted us. I read somewhere that There have been more lives lost through wars over religion than oil and land combined. Furthermore this would make it a more just war as well as something that could unite everyone to the cause. We all know the outcome so here is where my twist comes in. There were 3 distinct parts to that phrase. LIFE, THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS and LIBERTY. I purposely put them out of order because the powers that be really had little opposition to the first 2. The right to live and the right to be happy would be hard to mess with at that time and would have to come later. But it was the third that really threw a monkey wrench in the gears of Justice from the stand point of ruling the masses. My belief is that if Liberty which goes hand to hand with Freedom is a God given right and NOONE can taketh or giveth away that gift then how we’re you going to imprison the unruly. The lawyers in charge found the loopholes of all loopholes. This had to be fixed as quietly as possible over a period of decades. One of the sites I went to before this one had a graft of the known usage of both words through written documentation and the decade just before and after the constitution the unalienable word was the most widely accepted and used. But in a span of a few decades after it was almost never used and the inalienable version had taken over. Think about it, if my theory is right the. The constitution as written with the unalienable wording could then be argued that MAN then as well as now could not through written ( the government through laws and the Military through force ) or by voluntarily give up his freedom. This would make the Supreme Court as well as ever law enacted after the constitution that infringed on any and all of the big three invalid.
    This all sounds a little far fetched but it brings all the pieces of the puzzle together in a picture of the mindset in the beginning with unalienable as intended and accepted by the people. Or today’s grid locked government where GOD has been taken out of the schools as well as prayer. Where wishing Merry CHRISTmas is not PC and as of today MARRIAGE is a just a word not a GOD inclusive commitment between a Man and a Woman.
    It took a little over 200 years with a lot escalating corruption that has left us with less than 5 percent controlling more than 90 percent of the wealth. REALLY that is what our forefathers had in mind when they gave their lives to create a country FOR THE PEOPLE equally and BY THE PEOPLE equally.
    The only silver lining is imagine where we would be today had they stayed as originally drafted with inalienable and they could have done all this crap out in the open with no recourse.
    if i am right it would make life today really interesting if word got out and the 95 percent majority OF THE PEOPLE stood up for themselves and made this country once again as originally intended FOR THE PEOPLE EQUALLY. It could be done but with more than 50 percent of the 95 percent on government hand outs. The crumbs given back after they divide up all the spoils amongst themselves iIt has been four hours since I started and it is time to get off my soap box and let someone else get there turn.
    Please let me your thoughts.
    Next time my solution to the death penalty debate that frees up our jails and permanently protects us from the law breakers from
    without a SINGLE loss of life. cost much less and is much faster with ZERO regrets from jurors and allows for mistakes to be corrected because they are not DEAD, no longer a threat and no longer our problem. Intrigued think about and let me know if you would like to hear the answer.

    • Adask

      June 27, 2013 at 4:56 AM

      You’ve submitted a very long comment. I can only say that you seem to have grasped the fundamental concepts of “unalienable Rights”: 1) they flow from God; and 2) as envisioned by the Founders, the primary business of government is to secure them.

      I’d be glad to hear whatever “answer” you’d like to provide.

  15. Patrick Henry

    August 4, 2013 at 9:01 AM

    If my fundamental rights are unalienable, it implies that I am not in fact the sole proprietor of my own life; that it is in fact not my property and that in a sense I am a squatter, or at best a part owner. This, of course makes no reasonable sense whatsoever. I must therefore reject the assertion that my rights are unalienable. I fully understand the reasoning behind your argument – I think anyhow – you are attempting to make the strongest possible case for the sanctity of one’s rights against the depredation and violation of others. This intention is well taken, but you appear to miss the point that if people are indeed free, then they must be free to do terribly self-destructive things… like waiving their rights.

    All issues are swords of at least two edges. The advantages you seek in classifying my rights as unalienable are offset by the loss of genuine proprietorship. If I retain such ownership my prerogatives remain maximally broad, rather than circumscribed. The price I pay is the risk that someone may coerce me into waiving the rights associated with the life of which I am sole proprietor. It is a risk, to be sure, but one I am willing to bear for the sake of nobody holding a lien upon my life, even God.

    Besides, when someone wishes to relieve me of my rights, if they have the material might to do it they will be able to. In the practical world your view of unaliebable v. inalienable loses its meaning. It is not as if tyrants actually pay attention to what is right and wrong. If they did they would not be tyrants.

    Or have I misinterpreted your meaning?

    • Adask

      August 4, 2013 at 11:24 AM

      We can debate whether all of our rights are unalienable, inalienable or merely illusory. But what we can’t easily debate is that The United States of America started with the legal premises that: “We hold these truths [premises] to be self-evident, that 1) all men are created equal, that they they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights . . . .” and 2) “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men . . . .” In those two premises we see the basis for the governmental system and nation envisioned by the Founders. In those two premises, we see the basis for America being deemed “the land of the free” and the basis for American exceptionalism.

      Every governmental system starts with one or more spiritual and/or political premises. For example, a monarchy is based on the premise/belief that only one man or woman in the country receives his/her rights directly from God and he/she is therefore the only sovereign–all else are subjects. Communism rejects the idea that any individual or individuals can be “sovereign”. Communism is based on the premises that 1) God does not exist; 2) the State is sovereign; and 3) all of the people are, at best, subjects. The United States of America started with the premises that we all received an equal endowment of unalienable Right from God and that government’s primary duty was to secure those God-given, unalienable Rights.

      The premises on which any nation is constructed will determine how well that nation prospers and how long it lasts. The premises underlying the Soviet Union led to poverty and national destruction in just a few generations. The premises underlying The United States of America led to prosperity and national longevity and even world preeminence.

      So, when a group of government officers or special interest steals or surreptitiously eliminates the premises on which a nation is built, the result is more than an intellectual debate. The result can be national destruction. Right or wrong, the two premises on which America was built were the “people’s premises” and should only be changed with the people’s knowing consent. However, we live in a society where our fundamental premises have been concealed and virtually denied. In my opinion, as a result of the loss of our memory of our basic premises (unalienable Rights, etc.) we are all worse off as individual men and women; the American dream is dying; our children’s futures are being diminished; and our nation is heading for hard times and possible disintegration.

      I am therefore in favor of restoring the two, original premises on which this nation was built. Other people–fascists and fools, in my opinion–are indifferent to those premises or even opposed to them. Our current government seems dominated by those who believe that might makes right. I disagree with that premise.

      The premises are the “rules of the game”. When special interests unilaterally change the rules to suit themselves but don’t inform the people, they “cheat”. The cause a kind of treason.

      I am against that treason and the “Unalienable vs. Inalienable” article was intended to help people recognize those original premises, regain respect for those premises, and hopefully, encourage them to demand a restoration of those premises.

      If you disagree with the premise of “unalienable Rights,” what premise(s) do you think should constitute the foundation for our nation?

      • chefjemichel

        July 30, 2018 at 10:29 AM

        Thank you so very much, Adask!

        IMO – the “premises” are the true “supreme law” of America whereas “this constitution” is merely the “supreme law” of the “United States” as “the territory that is owned by and or subject to the exclusive legislative power of the United States of America”[1]!

        [1] Dr. Ed Rivera

  16. Clint Richardson

    June 11, 2014 at 1:21 PM

    Your argument is actually quite pristine me thinks. You just failed to look up the word LIBERTY in Bouvier’s Law Dictionary of 1856 to see that there are 5 different forms of liberty, and only natural liberty is unalienable. Personal, political, individual are all products of the state, and are alienable. So I virtually pat you on the back!!!

    BTW… FREEDOM is defined as obeying man’s law, so freedom is alienable. The word free and freedom should not be mixed any more than natural and political liberty or unalienable and inalienable rights.


  17. schutzhund

    March 8, 2019 at 4:37 PM

    “In-” is the form derived from Latin and so was used in words derived from Latin…
    “Un-” us the native form going back to Old English, mostly used in words of native origin…

  18. Chef

    March 9, 2019 at 10:54 AM

    Thank You Al!

    It’s so good to have you repeatedly restate the truly vital distinction over and over again between these terms: “inalienable” and “unalienable”! Both light and contrast are necessary to in order to see!

    To truly see/realize our unalienable Rights it apparently became necessary to allow the governmental misquoted version of the Declaration of Independence. I am so very grateful to see the light shining brightly through your “witnessing” and for your ability to articulate “the contrast”!

    I’ve added the most recent comment (besides this one) here:

    P.S. I am inspired to research Federal Records on FDR’s “memos”, etc. re: the Jefferson monument.

    • Adask

      March 9, 2019 at 9:13 PM

      Thanks for reading and considering some of my opinions or observations.

      I’m working on another similar article that compares “freedom” to “liberty”–which (if either) do you think is better?

      • Chef

        March 10, 2019 at 4:23 AM

        Greatly appreciation the open dialogue that you offer Al!

        You may like to know that I have followed through on my research (inspired by your observation of the Jefferson Memorial) and submitted an inquiry with the government publishing office and expect to hear back this week.

        Great question regarding “freedom” and “liberty.” As far as I know these two terms are quite distinct from one another and to as great extent (if not more) than the difference between inalienable and unalienable. Freedom comes first IMO because it is most largely all about the Individual and there is an enormous amount of narrative to be said about that! The first thing I’d say about “liberty” is that it is a temporary and conditional type of apparent “freedom” that is extended to service personnel (i.e.sailors) when they reach port and their commanding officer grants then a certain length of liberty time. These service personnel are not truly free and don’t possess personal freedom while they are on liberty, no matter how long that may last. It is really completely different from true freedom. Also liberty can be considered largely on a national level in contrast to freedom that is most largely with the individual and on a personal level. However an individual can identify themselves with a national cause for liberty (and justice) for all and say something like: “Give me liberty or give me death.”

  19. Adask

    March 10, 2019 at 10:16 AM

    Your observations are insightful, but probably contrary to what I expect to write about a comparison of “liberty” to “freedom”. I don’t know how soon I’ll publish my proposed article, but I expect it to be within the next couple of weeks.


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