The Influences on the Declaration of Independence and Constitution

Topics: United States Declaration of Independence, John Locke, Political philosophy Pages: 2 (451 words) Published: March 10, 2011
The Influences on the Declaration of Independence and Constitution

Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Voltaire influenced the Declaration of Independence and Constitution in many ways; they were also Enlightenment thinkers. First, Montesquieu believed in the separation of powers to avoid tyranny and promote liberty and justice, which was expressed in the Declaration of Independence. The theories he had made were very influential in the making of the Constitution. He wrote a system of check and balances that a government should incorporate so that one branch cannot overrule another. The branches he wrote of are the judicial, executive, and legislative, which to this day, the US still currently employs. His idea about a need for a “separation of powers” was highly critical too. Locke was actually the first to suggest the three branches of government which Thomas Jefferson interpreted in the Bill of Rights. Also, Locke’s idea of a people-run government had a huge influence over the United States Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and he also thought that it was necessary for a country to thrive and flourish, and without the people, the country would perish and fall. For him, the state of nature was a state of full natural rights so that there had to be a compelling advantage in any social afreement that would replace it. He also exercised a profound influence on political philosophy, particularly on modern liberalism. He had once said, “man is able to have these rights, life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Locke was arguably the most influential of the four philosophers.

Voltaire’s ideas influenced the Declaration of Independence and Constitution in many ways, but the most significant was his belief in religion and freedom from government, which influenced the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. The 1st Amendment protects citizens from having their government dictate religious practices; the government cannot establish a religion and it...
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