Locke v. Jefferson Project

by: Elyssa DiRienzo

Though they are two different and important individuals...

Jefferson has been long accused of plagiarizing John Locke's work. Though they are similar, there are a few key differences, such as:...


-Jefferson believed in the government being formed around the "State of Nature" and create a new political system if the old one defies this. Locke believes the state of nature exists but we are still under government.

-Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner, and did not promise property to every person.

-Thomas Jefferson traded property for "Pursuit of Happiness" in contrast to Locke's promise of property.

-John Locke wanted to justify the government and freedom, and Thomas Jefferson used his ideas to justify revolution

-Locke believes that government is a tool used by the public, and Thomas Jefferson believed in the right to rebel.


John Locke has the radical view that government is morally obliged to serve people, namely by ensuring life, liberty, and property. Locke’s writings did much to inspire the libertarian political party whereas Thomas Jefferson believed in democracy.

Thomas Jefferson tied in with Locke's beliefs, as two most important influences on liberty. From Locke Thomas Jefferson drew his most fundamental principles of liberty and government. Locke’s writings also influenced Benjamin Franklin. Locke believed in self-education, and it was taught in school that Locke's work should be made mandatory that it'd be studied in school