The Pursuit

A History of Happiness

Here’s a line you might have heard once or twice: “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.” But did the sentence really end there? Find out, this time on BackStory, as the hosts consider what “happiness” meant to Jefferson when he penned that line — and how it has changed in the centuries since.

How have Americans defined success, prosperity and contentment? How have they carried out their pursuit of those ends? And how does the course of history square with their lofty goals? Brian, Ed and Peter mull these questions over in stories across the centuries — from a mesmerist who urged his followers to think happy thoughts to an early hit in the recording industry that will just crack you up.

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