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Two Treatises of Government

Two Treatises of Government

Two Treatises of Government, title page from the first edition.

Short Description

Locke’s Two Treatises on Government revealed his belief in the natural goodness and cooperative spirit of man. He advocated religious tolerance and rights to personal property. The American Declaration of Independence, in particular, echoes his contention that government rests on popular consent and that rebellion is permissible when government subverts the ends.

Remnant Trust Description

The foundation of liberalism Two Treatises of Government, The foundation of the principles of democracy. English philosopher. Educated at Christ Church, Oxford, Locke was a lecturer in Greek, rhetoric, and philosophy at that university and apparently practiced medicine, though he never received a medical degree. He became confidential secretary to the Earl of Shaftesbury, who as one of the proprietors of Carolina, induced Locke to write a well-known constitution for the colony in 1669. Suspected of complicity in Shaftesbury’s plot against the government, Locke was forced to leave England, and he lived in the Netherlands from 1684 to 1689. He returned to England at the accession of William and Mary and was appointed commissioner of appeals.

Locke’s influence on political theory was enormous. His Two Treatises on Government, written in defense of the Glorious Revolution, revealed his belief in the natural goodness and cooperative spirit of man and his theory that the state should operate according to natural laws of reason and tolerance. He advocated religious tolerance and rights to personal property. The American Declaration of Independence, in particular, echoes his contention that government rests on popular consent and that rebellion is permissible when government subverts the ends—the protection of life, liberty, and property - for which it is established.