John Locke and the Declaration of Independence

Topics: United States Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, John Locke Pages: 4 (1345 words) Published: February 27, 2013
John Locke and the Declaration of Independence
In 1689, John Locke published, what proved to be, a valuable document for the American Revolution as well as life in present day America, known as the Second Treatise of Government. In his document he creates a model of his ideal civil government, which is created by the people to ensure their “natural rights” of life, liberty, and property. This government may also be dissolved upon the decision of the people, when it is believed that the sovereignty has ceased to function properly.

Locke’s model government is based on his idea of the “state of nature”; perfect freedom, the state all men are in naturally. This idea infers that all men will govern themselves accordingly; however chaos and anarchy would always occur. Men, in the “state of nature”, all have the drive and want to acquire more than which they already possess. Men, also, have the same capabilities of doing so, which ultimately creates conflict between men. This is where the idea of the “politic society” comes into play. The “politic society” is where men forfeit their individual right to govern themselves, and instead create a “social contract” amongst one another. The “social contract” is a binding agreement between the government and the governed, in which the governed agree to sacrifice their individual political power and obey laws, while the government agrees to provide protection of property and enforce/create laws that promote the common good. The government is prohibited from doing which the governed does not consent nor comply with.

Once government goes above or beyond its prescribed capabilities, it is then that it should be dissolved. Locke insists the government may be dissolved in any instance, if does not receive consent from its governed during: legislative alteration, executive hindering its legislative, alteration of elective process the executive, failure to enforce existing laws, and subjection to foreign powers.

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