John Locke's Influence on the Founding Fathers Essay

John Locke's Influence on the Founding Fathers Essay

Length: 1463 words (4.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Founding Fathers of the United States relied heavily on many of the principles taught by John Locke. Many of the principles of Locke’s Second Treatise of Government may easily be discovered in the Declaration of Independence with some minor differences in wording and order. Many of the ideas of the proper role of government, as found in the Constitution of the United States, may be discovered in the study of Locke. In order to understand the foundation of the United States, it is vital that one studies Locke. A few ideas from Hume may be found but the real influence was from Locke. Rousseau, on the other hand, had none.
A few examples of the similarities of the Declaration and Locke’s Second Treatise of Government will suffice, in order to show Locke’s importance. Some of the most important phrases of the Declaration seem to be Locke’s phrases. Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration, after declaring the purpose of government and if it fails to fulfill its purposes, that “it is the right of the People to alter or abolish it,” form a new one in such a way that will “effect their safety and happiness.” Locke declared about governmental purposes that “whenever that end is manifestly neglected, or opposed, the trust must necessarily be forfeited, and the power devolve into the hands of those that gave it, who may place it anew where they shall think best for their safety and security” (Locke 1690, Ch. XIII, P.149).
Jefferson then declared “that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to write themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed,” because of “a long train of abuses.” Locke wrote “the people, who are more disposed to suffer, than right themselves by resistance, ...


... middle of paper ...


...posit is made with the whole, with no individual. The contract is equal, for each gives all. No one reserves any rights by which he can claim to judge of his own conduct” (Strauss and Cropsey 1987, 568).
In conclusion, Locke influenced the Founders of the United States heavily. The rights of man in the preservation of their property, lives and liberty have been guaranteed because of these ideas. Hume, though a skeptic, I believe would not be as skeptical now because there is now history of a government by the consent of the governed. Rousseau’s ideas have been vanquished by Locke’s ideas.


Works Cited
Locke, John. "Second Treatise of Civil Government." Constitution Society. 1690. http://www.constitution.org/jl/2ndtr02.htm (accessed March 31, 2011).
Strauss, Leo, and Joseph Cropsey. History of Political Philosophy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Democratic Ideals of John Locke Essay

- In Second Treatise of Government John Locke characterizes the state of nature as one’s ability to live freely and abide solely to the laws of nature. Therefore, there is no such thing as private property, manmade laws, or a monarch. Locke continues to say that property is a communal commodity; where all humans have the right to own and work considering they consume in moderation without being wasteful. Civil and Political Societies are non-existent until one consents to the notion that they will adhere to the laws made by man, abide by the rules within the community, allow the ability to appoint men of power, and interact in the commerce circle for the sake of the populace....   [tags: Influence, History, Government]

Powerful Essays
737 words (2.1 pages)

John Locke Essay examples

- John Locke was born on August 29, 1632 the son of a country attorney and. Locke grew up in and during the civil war. In 1652, he entered the Christ Church (Oxford) where he remained as a student and teacher for many years. Locke taught and lectured in Greek, rhetoric, and Moral philosophy. Locke, after reading works of Descartes, developed a strong interest in contemporary philosophical and scientific questions and theories. In 1666, Locke met Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper, and from then on, this lifelong relationship and association helped to change the course of Locke’s career....   [tags: legislative, judicial, executive, property rights]

Powerful Essays
1107 words (3.2 pages)

John Locke: America’s Forgotten Founding Father Essay

- 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....   [tags: State of Nature, influential characters in history]

Powerful Essays
1721 words (4.9 pages)

Essay on John Locke: Illuminating Path to Life, Liberty, and Property

- I. Introduction “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” (“Declaration”). These words, spoken by a wise and prominent man by the name of Thomas Jefferson, were greatly influenced by the Enlightenment’s most profound philosopher, John Locke. Since the beginning of Enlightenment to the 21st century, Locke’s ideas have been behind countless innovators, philosophers, and politicians; including our very own Founding Fathers....   [tags: Enlightenment, Philospher, Biography]

Powerful Essays
1052 words (3 pages)

John Locke 's Theory Of Natural Rights Essays

- It all began with John Locke “All mankind... being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.” These words of John Locke described who he was as a person, and what he pleaded for; making him one of America’s most imperative historical figure. John Locke, America’s most influential philosophe, was a man who significantly influenced America through his theory on Natural Rights. Locke’s theory of Natural Rights has led America to build a government, bearing heroic pioneers to change people 's view of the public, and his theory has established the foundation of American Culture and Society through the American Revolution....   [tags: United States Declaration of Independence]

Powerful Essays
1067 words (3 pages)

John Locke And The On The Declaration Of The Rights Of Man And Citizen Essay

- John Locke and Jean- Jacques Rousseau focused on addressing contemporary social and political abuses that were occurring. These philosophers questioned public institutions, church, law, the principles of government, therefore they decided to advise specific improvements. John Locke was known as the co-founder of The Enlightenment period along with Isaac Newton. Together, Locke and Newton, they restored science and philosophy to produce a different way to look at the world which caused a new political weapon called “public opinion”....   [tags: United States Declaration of Independence]

Powerful Essays
881 words (2.5 pages)

Essay about The Ideas Of Bacon And Locke

- Objectives 1b – Modules 1. Psychology has been around for quite a while, and is able to trace its roots through recorded history to India, China, the Middle East, and Europe. The figureheads of certain Asian religions, such as Buddha and Confucius, focused on the power and origin of ideas. Ancient Hebrews, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle thought of whether mind and body are connected or spate distinct entities, and whether human ideas are innate ideas that form from within one’s conscious or result from experience....   [tags: Psychology, Clinical psychology]

Powerful Essays
1493 words (4.3 pages)

Essay about Faith and Politics

- Should faith groups and institutions be allowed to form political parties. Should faith groups be allowed to gain influence in the workings of the government. Starting back in the early days of Plato through when our founding fathers first drafted the constitution, there started to be a sense of separation between church and state. Since the inception of the United States Constitution in 1776, the American government knew there should be a clear separation. Even with this definition of separation there have been many citizens challenge certain aspects of the First Amendment....   [tags: philosophy, john locke, plato]

Powerful Essays
1795 words (5.1 pages)

Essay about The Influence Of The American Revolution

- The founding documents of the United States of America have persisted to prevail a message to Americans as models of excellence in their fulfillments of perfection to the best of their abilities. The instruments that shaped The United states of America are merely products of fragments composed together to produce a foundation in which the United States stand on. These fragments include ideologies from the European Enlightenment in the age of reason which prompted an American Enlightenment to start beginning in the 1700’s....   [tags: United States Declaration of Independence]

Powerful Essays
968 words (2.8 pages)

Child Development Essay

- Child Development John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau were the founding fathers of the psychology of children. Locke was an environmentalist, while Rousseau was a naturalist. They had opposing viewpoints. They both believed in different things when it came to developing minds of children.      John Locke was an environmentalist. He believed a child's mind develops largely on the environment accordance with his/her experience of the world, and through learning. He brings forth the concept of tabula rasa, or blank slate; this blank slate is a child's mind that eventually fills up with learning and experience....   [tags: Psychology Locke Rousseau Essays Papers]

Powerful Essays
481 words (1.4 pages)