When Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, did he understand Aristotle's view of happiness and how to pursue it?
The Declaration says that all human beings, being equal by nature, have an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Living, we have seen, is itself a means to living well. So is freedom.
Unless we can exercise a free choice about the things we want or need, and unless we can freely carry out the choices we make—without coersion or impediment—we cannot pursue happiness. If everything is determined for us, if the pattern of our life is imposed upon us, there would be no sense in talking about planning our lives or about adopting a plan for living well.
We need to stay alive in order to live well. We need liberty in order to make an effort—a planned effort—to live well. Because we need these things in order to pursue happiness, we have a right to them.
— Mortimer J. Adler, "How to Pursue Happiness", Aristotle for Everybody