Thursday, September 17, 2009

Declaration of Independence

Was Thomas Jefferson influenced by John Locke?

Both agree that the people have the power to dissolve the government if it is not acting for the benefit of all of the people because its power is derived directly from the combined interests of all of its citizens.

Both say that people favored the protection of a government.

There is also the connection made to Locke's "State of Nature" with Jefferson's description of the "Laws of Nature."

These foundational ideas are so similar that it is highly possible that Jefferson did read Locke, but the ideas are so simple and logical that they might have just been two independent solutions to government by two unrelated, intelligent men.

One of the main differences is that Locke's system of government seems to rise naturally from the needs of people in the absence of any order. Jefferson's declaration is a form of government tailored to specifically incorporate knowledge from past experience with less effective forms of government.

There are also a few minor contradictions stemming mainly from word choice. Jefferson considers that being independent, governed states means being free. People would be free of British rule, but Locke would argue that there is freedom that is relinquished in the formation of a government.


  1. Nice job here. Loved the second paragraph. You danced around the idea of plagarism very nicely. You analysis flows logically from one idea to the next. You did some thinking here!