John Locke and the American Revolution and Glorious Revolution Essay

John Locke and the American Revolution and Glorious Revolution Essay

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John Locke, amongst other things, was a 17th century political philosopher who became renowned for his beliefs in the state of nature, natural law and the inalienable rights of man; often being referred to as the ‘Father of Liberalism’. At their time of writing, Locke’s ideas were considered to be revolutionary thoughts in an extremely conservative world; in which absolute power commonly ruled over the masses and where inequality simply went unchallenged. John Locke’s theories were paramount in both the Glorious Revolution and the American Revolution, and there are numerous reasons as to why this is so.

Locke’s views on the state of nature inspired people to believe that every man, woman and child is born with select natural rights which should not be supressed or abused by a form of government. Governments, after all, have been placed in their positions of sovereignty at the consent of the people in order to protect these natural rights; this is known as a social contract. If a government breaks this contract, the people have a right of revolution – meaning that they can actively dissolve the previous form of government and they may choose to create a new one which performs its intended functions much more efficiently. In both revolutions, the people claimed that their governments were breaking their side of the social contract by abusing their powers and obstructing the rights to life, liberty and property. Therefore, the reasons behind both revolutions can be found in a hatred of absolute power and a belief in unconditional human rights – particularly the obstruction of property rights.

Locke claims the state of nature exists in a non-political society, where men are free individuals who are bound by no government or poli...


... middle of paper ...


...e’s philosophies were vital in creating a new era of thought, where personal liberties triumphed over the desires of a king – hence, the revolution was born.




Works Cited

 Locke, John ‘Two Treatises of Government’ (1698), in John Locke; A Critical Edition with an Introduction and Apparatus Criticus edited by Peter Laslett (Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1967).
 Freeman, M.D.A. (1994) Lloyd’s Introduction to Jurisprudence. 6th Edition, London: Sweet & Maxwell LTD.
 Madison, J. (1788) Federalist No. 7. Federalist Papers: From the New York Packet. Available online at: http://www.foundingfathers.info/federalistpapers/fedindex.htm
 Commons Journal, (1688/89), as cited in Lucinda Maer and Oonagh, The Bill of Rights 1689 Parliament and Constitution Centre, Available at: Gahttp://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons/lib/research/briefings/snpc-00293.pdf

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