Natural Law is a term that can be widely used.
Here are a few definitions from Dictionary.com
1. an ethical belief or system of beliefs supposed to be inherent in human nature and discoverable by reason rather than revelation
2. See also nomological a nonlogically necessary truth; law of nature
3. the philosophical doctrine that the authority of the legal system or of certain laws derives from their justifiability by reason, and indeed that a legal system which cannot be so justified has no authority”
American Psychological Association (APA):
natural law. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved November 10, 2011, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/natural law
“Main Entry: natural lawFunction: noun : a body of law or a specific principle of law that is held to be derived from nature and binding upon human society in the absence of or in addition to positive law NOTE: While natural law, based on a notion of timeless order, does not receive as much credence as it did formerly, it was an important influence on the enumeration of natural rights by Thomas Jefferson and others.”
American Psychological Association (APA):
natural law. (n.d.). Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Retrieved November 10, 2011, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/natural law
The founding fathers were familiar with natural law or natures law.
Below is the beginning of the Declaration of Independence, approximately the first 1/5 of the document.
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”
There is also the spiritual side, or non political aspect of Natural Law, now this can be taken different ways and some religions add there own extensions or twist to it. But I see the two fitting perfectly together. Many people come to the belief that we are one, everything is connected. Check out Quantum Physics, Vedic Science, or the Law of One. When you come to this understanding it tends to make one do things that are good for the whole while observing each persons rights, or ideas. This is in harmony with the political aspect that each person governs themselves as long as it doesn’t prevent others from the same.
If more people understood this we could have a much better and more peaceful place. Notice I didn’t say perfect, that is subjective and something only politicians seem to promise.
I was searching Google for some additional information not readily in my own mind about the influence on the founding fathers and I came across several sites and decided to post links to them here instead of quoting small bits.
Wow, enough blogging for now, I want to read more of those articles I just found.
Edited to add this quote, I think the author is Samuel Adams and it shows to me how Natural Law was at the heart of the founding of this country, not Big Government.
“The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on Earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but only to have the law of nature for his rule.” – The Rights of the Colonists, November 20, 1772