Early in the history of the United States, human rights, then often termed the "rights of man," were understood to be those natural, unalienable rights of all persons that no government on earth could deny - rights that are a part of law, whether written or unwritten, and that free and democratic governments are formed to further and to protect. As Alexander Hamilton recognized in 1775, "the sacred rights of mankind... are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature… and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power." Yet, as Hamilton must have known, some of mortal stature would try.
Jordan J. Paust,
On Human Rights: The Use of Human Right Precepts in U.S. History and the Right to an Effective Remedy in Domestic Courts,
Mich. J. Int'l L.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjil/vol10/iss2/9