The "pursuit of happiness" is an early example of
postmodernism (a.k.a., newspeak, or Humpty
syndrome). The original wording was "pursuit of property",
but that wording would have lead to an unfortunate lack
of support from certain circles (i.e. the poor majority),
so it was reworded to sound more innocuous. This is
bog-standard postmodernist behavior: misuse and/or
redefine extant terminology not by accident but
deliberately, in order to mislead and confuse people
into agreeing with you who otherwise don't. Reinhold
Neibuhr mastered the technique so well that to this day
a lot of folks think he was a Christian theologian,
whereas he was in fact a secular philosopher with
some really... unusual ideas, ideas that
are highly inconsistent with Christianity. A lot of
education textbooks make heavy use of this technique
also; it's pretty scary if you examine it too closely.
Incidentally, it is generally held to be Ben
Franklin who came up with the wording that
was ultimately used ("pursuit of happiness").
I'm not sure how we know that, though.
Now that is interesting. Happen to have sources to name? However, though your points that fit the topic more closely, what I actually meant was something different.
Happiness is not something you have, but something you are, a state to achieve. You cannot "pursue" it. No external influence can bring you happiness if you are not happy, nor can take it if you are happy, even though external forces may bring excitement or grief.
Of course, assuming it was a rewording, it would be doubly ironic that this fallacy has been the ideal for many generations to follow..