John Locke: America’s Forgotten Founding Father

analytical Essay
1721 words
1721 words

John Locke is the most influential character in American history, thought, and practice. Without the influence of his writings, America would not have the same foundation of unalienable Rights, stable governance, and quality of life. However, Locke remains widely unknown and unstudied by the newer generations of Americans. His most influential work, the Second Treatises of Government, laid the ground, both theoretically and institutionally, for the American system of government that has been enjoyed for over two centuries. His influence on the American way of thinking is made evident when examining the text of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. In his treatise, Locke addresses the equality of all men. In order to correctly understand political philosophy, one must first understand the State of Nature man is born into, which is a state of perfect freedom. In the State of Nature, man has perfect freedom and is equal to all other men. Man’s freedom allows him to act as he pleases and to use or dispose of his possessions as he sees fit (Locke II.4). The freedom man enjoys is coupled with a state of equality, in which it is understood that all men entitled to the advantages of nature and the use of its resources. In the state of nature, no man has more “power or jurisdiction” (Locke II.4) than any other man. Although natural man is in a state of liberty, Locke takes great care to stress that man is not in a “state of license” (Locke II.6), for man is only free to act within the bounds of the law of nature (Locke II.4). The law of nature, which is reason, claims that because all men are “equal and independent,” and therefore, no man ought to cause harm to another man’s “life, health, liberty, or posses... ... middle of paper ... ...ituted Locke’s ideas into the American system of government. They sought to uphold equality, govern by consent, and protect the rights of man. In doing so, the Founders established a government that operates within the bounds of reason and nature. That government stands today as the United States of America, in part to John Locke, the philosopher. Works Cited Hamilton, Alexander, James Madison, John Jay, and Richard R. Beeman. The Federalist Papers. New York: Penguin, 2012. Print. Jefferson, Thomas. The Declaration of Independence. New York: Scholastic Reference, 2002. Print. Locke, John. Second Treatise of Government. Ed. C. B. Macpherson. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Pub., 1980. Print. United States Constitutional Convention. Constitution of the United States. National Archives and Records Administration. National Archives and Records Administration, n.d. Web.

In this essay, the author

  • Opines that john locke is the most influential character in american history, thought, and practice. the second treatises of government laid the ground for the american system of government that has been enjoyed for over two centuries.
  • Analyzes how locke addresses the equality of all men in his treatise.
  • Explains that locke's views on equality laid a theoretical foundation for the institution of rights upheld in modern-day america.
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