John Locke's Influence on the American Government

Topics: John Locke, Separation of church and state, Political philosophy Pages: 2 (271 words) Published: July 31, 2014
Amy Kuptz
July 31, 2014
John Locke’s Influence
John Locke, an English Philosopher from the 17th century, had a major influence on the founding fathers when they created the American system of government. In Locke’s writing, The Second Treatise of Civil Government, he discusses that according to nature, all men are “free, equal, and independent”. The founding fathers were obviously influenced by this idea because the United States is an independent nation in which all men are born free and equal. Another one Locke’s ideas that has shaped the U.S. government is the Social Contract in which the government’s role is to protect the natural rights of the citizens, and in return the people must transfer some of their rights to the government in order to ensure a stable society. These natural rights are life, liberty, and property, and if the government fails to defend these rights, the people have the right to overthrow the government. Also, John Locke believed that enforcing a single religion would cause more social disorder than allowing people to choose their faith; therefore, he encouraged religious tolerance. It is evident that the founding fathers agreed with the idea of religious tolerance because another main aspect of the U.S. government is freedom of religion. Since citizens are independent individuals, they have the right to choose what they believe without ridicule from the government. Lastly, Locke believes that a legitimate government is based on the separation of powers between a legislative and executive branch. This system of government is still in tact today and is abundantly based on the influential ideas of John Locke.
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