A maxim of Irish Law first recorded in the eight century. It is a precept which underlies the phrase “All men are created equal” which appears in the American Declaration of Independence and the underlying meaning is the same.
The Brehon precept is in sharp contrast with the beliefs and values of the contemporaneous European social hierarchy and is evident right down to the post modern era as expressed through the English proverb “you can't make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear”.
The precept dictates that the individual may not be hindered or restricted, in any way what so ever, in his or her development because to the circumstances of his or her birth. The individual is encouraged to achieve what he will, and is free to accumulate wealth and will be honoured for his success. A person was judged by their deeds and not their genealogy.
The Brehon precept expects a man to improve the conditions prevailing at the time of his birth. Jefferson’s precept indicates that every man should have an equal chance to improve such conditions.” Quoted from - Secret And Silent Men Of 1798 By James Caulfield. Brehon Law quote from Uraicceacht Bec an eight century text from Munster dealing with rank and status.
(Edit: Reference to the above can be found in - Joseph R. Peden, 'Property Rights in Celtic Irish Law' Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 1, No. 2, 1977 pp.81-95, at page 86 (Download pdf here).
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