Here's an exerpt from Leonard Peikoff's essay, "Religion vs. America" from the book, 'The Voice of Reason:Essays in Objectivist Thought'.
“Point for point, the Founding Fathers’ argument for liberty was the exact counterpart of the Puritans’ argument for dictatorship — but in reverse, moving from the opposite starting point to the opposite conclusion. Man, the Founding Fathers said in essence (with a large assist from Locke and others), is the rational being; no authority, human or otherwise, can demand blind obedience from such a being — not in the realm of thought or, therefore, in the realm of action, either. By his very nature, they said, man must be left free to exercise his reason and then to act accordingly, i.e., by the guidance of his best rational judgment. Because this world is of vital importance, they added, the motive of man’s action should be the pursuit of happiness. Because the individual, not a supernatural power, is the creator of wealth, a man should have the right to private property, the right to keep and use or trade his own product. And because man is basically good, they held, there is no need to leash him; there is nothing to fear in setting free a rational animal.
“This, in substance, was the American argument for man’s inalienable rights. It was the argument that reason demands freedom.”
This essay, and the entire book, should be read by every thinking person in America.