The Influence of John Locke

Luke McDowell

Influence #1

Included in John Lockes writing, "The Essay Concerning Human Understanding," is the phrase "Natural rights of Life, Liberty, and Property." which Thomas Jefferson borrowed for the the Declaration of Independence as a part of peoples' inalienable rights which are "Life, Liberty, and Pursuit ofHappiness."

To me, these quotes mean the idea that all humans are human. No man should be treated as any less for we all share these simple rights that no other creature on this planet has. I really like these quotes for it is as if you are given humanity by law.

Influence #2

John Locke used the phrase "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, should also be equal one amongst another without subordination or subjection, unless the lord and master of them all should, by any manifest declaration of his will set one above another, and confer on him, by an evident and clear appointment, an undoubted right to dominion and sovereignty." This idea was also used by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, in which he stated "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

These two quotes to me, embody the idea that makes America so great. It is the idea that no matter where you come from, you can make it in America. "All men are created equal"

Influence #3

Locke stresses the importance of separation between church and state. "Covetousness, uncharitableness, idleness, and many other things are sins by the consent of men, which yet no man ever said were to be punished by the magistrate. The reason is because they are not prejudicial to other men's rights, nor do they break the public peace of societies… the business of laws is not to provide for the truth of opinions, but for the safety and security of the commonwealth and of every particular man's goods and person…" Jefferson used this idea of church and state separation in the "Declaration of Independence," when he says "When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

What I beleive these quotes mean, is that the key to becoming a free nation that has no one true king/ monarch like England, is to seperate the church and the state. This also helps America to become a place where all religions are allowed to be practiced.

Influence #4

John Locke quotes "Besides this over-turning from without, governments are dissolved from within, First, When the legislative is altered. . . When any one, or more, shall take upon them to make laws, whom the people have not appointed so to do, they make laws without authority, which the people are not therefore bound to obey; by which means they come again to be out of subjection, and may constitute to themselves a new legislative, as they think best, being in full liberty to resist the force of those, who without authority would impose any thing upon them." This quote strongly reflects Jefferson's which is "…deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

What I beleive these quotes mean is that whenever a government begins to break its own rules and act in a way it shouldn't, the people have a right to overthrow those in power and replace them.

Influence #5

John Locke quotes " Secondly: I answer, such revolutions happen not upon every little mismanagement in public affairs. Great mistakes in the ruling part, many wrong and inconvenient laws, and all the slips of human frailty will be borne by the people without mutiny or murmur. But if a long train of abuses, prevarications, and artifices, all tending the same way, make the design visible to the people, and they cannot but feel what they lie under, and see whither they are going, it is not to be wondered that they should then rouse themselves, and endeavor to put the rule into such hands which may secure to them the end for which government was at first erected..." this quote correlates. With that of Thomas Jefferson when he says "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

I beleive that theses quotes are saying that even though we can change our government to fit our desires, we should never change it over small disagreements or petty flaws. We must only step in to fully overthrow a government when it is truly out of line.


Much of Thomas Jefferson's work is derived from that of John Locke. Throughout this project I have learned and written about 5 major points that Jefferson used in "The Declaration of Indepenence" that were clearly influenced by the work of John Locke. These 5 were the three natural rights to life (life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness), the idea that all men are created equal, the separation of church and state, the people's right to overthrow an unjust government, and finally different morals and rules that bind these rights such as the rule that people should not overthrow a government for small issues. If it weren't for Mr. John Locke's influence and Thomas Jefferson's depiction and writing, the Declaration (and our country) would not have looked the same.