P.O. Box 75, Stony Creek, New York 12878 - 518/696-5748
Founded 1994

The right to own private property is a fundamental American freedom that
guarantees personal liberty and promotes economic prosperity.



December 1, 2008

Dear Friend:

The time has come to celebrate! We are reaching the Fifteenth Anniversary of the Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc.

And it is time to thank you and the many people over the years who have stood fast with our vision of private property rights. Our vision is based on a belief in the same absolute truth that the Founders of our nation assumed and meant to protect under the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

At the time of the flowering of the enlightened thinking that gave us our Constitution, the British jurist Sir William Blackstone recorded the fundamentals of the system of law that the Constitution was based on in his Commentaries on the Laws of England.

He began his Commentaries by describing the three "Absolute Rights of Individuals," which he summed up as the right of personal security (which starts with the right to life), the right of personal liberty, and the right of private property.

"The third absolute right, inherent in every Englishman, is that of property: which consists in the free use, enjoyment, and disposal of all his acquisitions, without any control or diminution, save only by the laws of the land."

He writes, "So great moreover is the regard of the law for private property, that it will not authorize the least violation of it; no, not even for the general good of the whole community."

When the Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc., was founded in January 1994, it was based on this idea of natural law, not on expedience, not on the popularity of any current ideas of the social good, and certainly not on any faddish ideas of "environmental" good.

Instead, the Foundation was founded precisely because current ideas of social and environmental good were desiccating liberty and private property rights.

  • We opposed the executive appointment of regional government based far away from the people, which infringes on both liberty and private property rights. For this reason, we opposed pre-zoning and government land acquisition schemes, such as National Heritage Corridors and UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.
  • We opposed the systematic elimination of private property ownership by transferring private property, often through quasi-government non-profit conservancies, to the government. We also opposed perpetual conservation easements, as a threat to the future of private property.
  • We opposed zoning and land use controls, except for classical city planning of streets, parks, utilities, and civic infrastructure. We understood that zoning is class-based and advocated for the right of people to live in the homes of their choice where they chose, whether in mobile home parks, simple apartments, modest dweller-built houses, or finer houses.
  • We opposed the all-intrusive mandatory modern building codes and advocated for sensible, helpful standards to protect health and safety.
  • We opposed laws that supposedly protect the poor by taking private property from others, especially through rent control.
  • We opposed environmental regulation that goes beyond the classical protection of one private property owner from infringing on the rights of another, such as by pollution and nuisance. Therefore we opposed most of the modern environmental land use regulation, whether for protection of wetlands, endangered species, wildlife habitat, viewsheds or other "public goods."
  • We opposed schemes that forced intrusions onto private property without condemnation and just compensation, especially the adoption of defunct rail rights-of-way as trail routes, where property is often stolen from the reversionary owners.
  • As conditions for property owners got worse, we worked against the use of eminent domain to transfer property from one private owner to another private party, which was usually for economic development.

And because we saw how difficult it was for individual property owners to fight for their rights when faced with these infringements, we set out on a three-pronged program:

  • We printed a steady stream of publications, and later opened the free web site, to empower the citizen property owner to defend private property rights.
  • We focused on citizen inquiries and service to citizen groups with practical responses and training to strengthen their effectiveness.
  • We inaugurated the annual conferences on private property rights to focus attention in an inspiring setting with reports from grassroots leaders and the best minds in the nation.

Our program has also resulted in countless approaches from legislators at the local, state, and federal level, the media, and organizations requesting that the Foundation testify and provide information. I hope that you will be proud to say that you have supported and participated in the work of the Property Rights Foundation of America, as our organization is spoken of with respect and appreciation, and this is possible only because of the loyal participation and support extended by you and so many others over these fifteen years.

By promoting private property rights and private property ownership, the program of the Property Rights Foundation of America unfailingly stands on the side of local communities and their cultures, their control of government, and the families and traditions that bind people together in complex and beauteous support systems that enrich and strengthen their lives.

Some feel that we should compromise our basic principles to accomplish "progress." But that is self-defeating. Our belief in the right to own and use private property is so fundamental, that if compromised, we will have discredited our mission and be left with no footing from which to defend our rights.

The natural rights reasoning and the Judaic-Christian moral tradition on which our culture and our legal system are also based are in perfect harmony. So our defense of private property rights can be unwaveringly based from a position of moral confidence.

Our uncompromising vision is appreciated by grassroots activists who are encouraged and grounded with confidence in their position. Legislators honor the principled honesty with which information is shared whenever requested. Last year at this time, an unexpected letter arrived from New York State Senator John A. DeFrancisco, with these words:

"Your prompt responses and willingness to assist my staff with their various issues is a true testimony to your professionalism. It is heartening to know that there are dedicated individuals such as you that make doing my job much easier."

So please keep heart, for it is indeed true that when times seem hard, the light shines brightest. Right now in New York's North Country, there is a new groundswell of citizen action precipitated by the harshest onslaught that the state environmental department, the wealthy national land conservancies, and the Adirondack Park Agency have organized yet. In spite of all their might, significant victories are appearing for the local people.

As we work together on so many issues with the interwoven themes of private property rights and freedom, let's look ahead to the future of our efforts, for much can be accomplished if we hold to our principled outlook.

The work of the Property Rights Foundation of America needs your most abundant support. Please help us celebrate the Fifteenth Anniversary of our founding by donating as generously as possible to continue the important vision we share.

With much appreciation for your support in so many ways,


Carol W. LaGrasse

A copy of the latest annual financial report of the Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc. may be obtained from the organization
or from the Office of the Attorney General, Charities Bureau, 120 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10271.

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