It was originally “Life, liberty and property”, which Jefferson got from Locke, but the fact that he amended it to “happiness” comes directly Epicurus. Jefferson had a giant boner for Epicurean hedonism, of which he said, “The genuine (not the imputed) doctrines of Epicurus [contain] everything rational in moral philosophy which Greece and Rome have left us.”
I’m not American, so most of what I know about America’s difficult relationship with its founding fathers I’ve extrapolated from that Simpsons episode where Lisa makes them dig up Jebediah Springfield. Also, while there’s no concrete historical evidence as to whether Jefferson did or did not have a weird, toothy underbite, I’ve taken the liberty of assuming he probably did, but that he told portrait artists to hide it. We do know for sure that he was an avowed Epicurean, degenerate sex maniac and slave-owner, so the strip is really more about that anyway.
– Nick (@nickgibb3)