Locke v. Jefferson

by Mallory Moore


1. "That being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions…" -Second Treatise of Civil Government

"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." -Declaration of Independence

Both Locke and Jefferson believed in the rights of men. Everyone should have control over himself, and the government nor other citizens should be able to trample on these 'unalienable' rights. They believed everyone was born with an equal opportunity to achieve success.

2. "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..." -Second Treatise of Civil Government

"...and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do." -Declaration of Independence

These men believed that when the governing powers are no long working in favor of those under rule, the people have the right to abolish the government and work towards a new, improved governing system. Jefferson is putting Locke's ideas into motion by declaring the colonies independence from Britain and providing foundations for the colonies new government.

3. "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 born 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" -Second Treatise of Civil Government

"Accordingly all experience hath shewn, 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 invariable 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." -Declaration of Independence

This again is talking about new government in the face of an abusive government. They both agree that in all governments there are small annoyances that people can live with. But when the government repeatedly offends, something must be done.

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..." -Second Treatise of Civil Government

"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." -Declaration of Independence

Both men believed that the government's job was not to control the people but to protect the rights and freedom of the people. Everything that the government did, it was because the people allowed and elected them in a majority to do so.

5. "Besides this over-turning from without, governments are dissolved from within..." (Section 212 - Section 222) -Second Treatise of Civil Government

"He has refused...He has excited domestic insurrections..." -Declaration of Independence

Both men choose to cite in detail the abuses of government so the government knows exactly what not to do. This ensures the government doesn't have a loophole to jump through to defend themselves if they abuse their power.


I think equality (#1) is one of the most important factors in both documents. They both said all humans are equal and show be treated as such. No matter the time period, that will always be an important factor that plays into American life. Even though it says it plain as day in the Declaration we're still fighting for equality and against prejudice for many groups.

I also think that the ability for the people to be in control (#2) is also important. The US government has always been about the people having a say in what happens within their country. If the government isn't working, it's our right and our duty to make a change. This keeps the government liable for their actions because of their debt to the people.