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The end of the eighteenth century saw the formulation and general acceptance in America of a political philosophy which laid great stress upon the freedom of the individual. Many influential thinkers believed that man was endowed at birth with certain inalienable rights, "naturally" and therefore divinely bestowed, rights which were reserved to him despite any contractual agreement entered into with a government. The theory itself had, it is true, little real justification in historical fact, but its adoption as a basis for action gave it a certain validity and made it a vital force in the development of society and politics. The natural rights philosophy could not be proved historically; pragmatically it could be proved by working it. The American experiment was one, perhaps the most important, of the practical applications of this theory.