In "Charters", James Madison wrote the following:
In Europe, charters of liberty have been granted by power. America has set the example and France has followed it, of charters of power granted by liberty.
This is what makes modern revolutionaries so backward. They are stuck on stupid in old-think - that is, that power grants liberty. If only government could get bigger, we could grant the rights to _________________ for whatever special interest group they have in mind at the moment. Like the "right" to healthcare. In the comment "America has set the example", he makes it clear that it's never been done before. Every other revolution simply exchanged one set of rulers for another set of rulers. Madison continues:
This revolution in the practice of the world, may, with an honest praise, be pronounced the most triumphant epoch of its history, and the most consoling presage of its happiness. We look back, already, with astonishment, at the daring outrages committed by despotism, on the reason and the rights of man; We look forward with joy, to the period, when it shall be despoiled of all its usurpations, and bound for ever in the chains, with which it had loaded its miserable victims.
This highlights the brilliance of Madison. Not only did the founders successfully break free of the world's superpower, but they completely revolutionized the way man thought - and they knew it, or at least Madison did. In all of man's history, governments granted rights. And at every turn of the page governments abused that authority. Reagan put it simply:
And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man.
The key is recognition of the individual. That phrasing is not specifically used here, but it can't be ignored. "Charters of power, granted by liberty" implies that individuals hold the true power, power over government. The most unique idea in the long history of man is this concept that the individual matters more than the group.
In the process of researching this blog posting, I came across this article titled "The Only Real Revolution" from the Future of Freedom Foundation. It largely says what I'm thinking in this instance, even moreso.