Locke vs Jefferson

By: Janet Stacy

John Locke

John Locke was an English philosopher and physician, considerably the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers and commonly known as the "Father of Liberalism"

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was an American Founding Father who was principal author of the Declaration of Independence. He was elected the second Vice President of the United States and the third President.

Locke and the Declaration

Chapter II Section 4

“To understand political power right, and derive it from its original, we must consider, what state all men are naturally in, and that is, a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons, as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave, or depending upon the will of any other man. A state also of equality, wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another; there being nothing more evident, than that creatures of the same species and rank, promiscuously born to all the same advantages of nature, and the use of the same faculties..”

Excerpt from the Declaration of Independence

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”


In both of theses statements the over all point is that men are created equal and should be treated as such.

Chapter II Sec. 6

Sec. 6. But though this be a state of liberty, yet it is not a state of Licence. . .The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions…"

Excerpt from the Declaration of Independence

"certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"


The government should not take away from the right of life, health, liberty, or possessions, or as Jefferson state "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Chapter XIX Sec. 216

"Thirdly, When, by the arbitrary power of the prince, the electors, or ways of election, are altered, without the consent, and contrary to the common interest of the people,"

Excerpt from the Declaration of Independence

"and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of"


People have the right to alter the government if the government alters laws without the consent of the community, meaning people must alter the government if needed

GovernmentChapter XIX Sec. 220

In these and the like cases, when the government is dissolved, the people are at liberty to provide for themselves, by erecting a new legislative, differing from the other, by the change of persons, or form, or both, as they shall find it most for their safety and good: "

Excerpt from the Declaration of Independence

"It is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,"


If the government were to "dissolve" then the people are to fend for themselves and take it in there own hands to construct a new government that meets their needs. Which in turn was summarized to when the government becomes too destructive it is the right of the people to elect new officials.

Chapter XIX Sec. 221

"There is therefore, secondly, another way whereby governments are dissolved, and that is, when the legislative, or the prince, either of them, act contrary to their trust. First, The legislative acts against the trust reposed in them, when they endeavor to invade the property of the subject, and to make themselves, or any part of the community, masters, or arbitrary disposers of the lives, liberties, or fortunes of the people."

Excerpt from the Declaration of Independence

"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends"


Both state that whenever a leader/ government has lost the trust of the people then they have the right to throw them out.


The two similarities that have affected the government most in today's world would be “all men are created equal” which is very important to run a society. We have ran into many problems with this through the years, such as slavery, and the more recent issue of gay marriage. In each argument the constitution should be acknowledged because it clearly states that all men should be treated the same yet we still seem to have the same issues. Also the right for citizens to overthrow government, without this our government could have the potential to turn into the type of government we worked so hard to escape. Without the limits of power the president could easily become too powerful and the people would have no say.