The View From 1776

John Locke’s Influence On Our Nation’s Founding

Robert Curry, continuing his examination of our heritage from the Scottish Enlightenment, makes the case that John Locke’s role was less significant than that of the Scottish moral philosophers.

It’s only fair, however, to note that Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government articulated the underlying justification for the Declaration of Independence and, in that respect, was a powerful influence.  Written in 1689, the Second Treatise established a legitimate basis for ousting tyrannical king James II, namely that a sovereign is answerable to a higher law, from which flow God-given natural rights; that when a sovereign contravenes those natural rights, he forfeits his right to rule.

John Adams’s cousin Samuel Adams employed Locke’s argument in creating the Committees of Correspondence among the thirteen colonies, the agency that brought together the first Continental Congress.

Locke and America