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Justin Freiberg
Honors American Government
Pd. 2
Rousseau, Montesquieu, Locke and Hobbes

Enlightenment thinkers such as Rousseau, Montesquieu, Locke, and Hobbes had a strong influence on the American government. John Locke was a famous British philosopher; he believed that people are shaped by their experiences. John Locke's political work he is most famous for is “The Second Treatise of Government”, in which he argues that sovereignty resides in the people and explains the nature of legitimate government in terms of natural rights and the social contract. John Locke seems to have had the largest influence on the American Government and the lives of its citizens.

John Locke brought in many of the beliefs that we construe in our constitution. Such ideas include religious freedom, checks and balances and equality. Freedom of religion was not a common thing in the sixteen hundreds. These sorts of ideas were frowned upon by higher powers, so it was hard for Locke to express himself. Locke’s idea of freedom of religion stemmed the idea for the separation of church and state. He is famous for calling for the separation of Church and State in his “Letter Concerning Toleration”. The separation of church and state means that religious views will not affect decisions or actions made by the state, or government. This is important to the United States because of extent of diversity in the country. There are many different religions and there would be many conflicts if religion played into the decision making process of the country.

The checks and balances system originated from Locke. Checks and balances means a system that allows each branch of a government to amend or veto acts of another branch so as to prevent any one branch from exerting too much power . Without such a system it would be quite easy for one branch to gain too much power, which would take away from the democratic idea and change it to more of a dictatorship. This is one of...
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