ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

John Locke: Two Treatises of Government

Updated on February 19, 2013
aliciaharrell profile image

Alicia has been an Author, Columnist, and Reviewer for 9 years. Her success came from perseverance plus organized goal setting.

John Locke (1632 - 1704)

Book Review

John Locke was a well known English Philosopher during his lifetime (the 17th Century). He was highly respected, in spite of his liberal views such as peoples' inherent rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of property". He believed the "government should be governed by those it governed". He further perpetrated the "blank slate" theory in philosophy about man beginning as a "blank slate" learning progressively from his surroundings and society. He wrote about natural law, on freedom and equality of all men. John Locke argued in his writings that "earthly rulers derive rights, not from God, but from contracts made by men, and that people have the right to rebel against a ruler who betrays that contract." These ideas today are not new. It was John Locke who fathered them. His works such as Two Treatises of Government (written in 1679) were well read even by famous Americans such as Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and the American Federalists. Documents like the The Declaration of Indepence, the Bill of Rights, and the United States Constitution exhibit John Locke's influence upon their creators. Even Patrick Henry was a great admirer of John Locke's works; often times quoted John Locke in his speeches about liberty and freedom. His admirers were not just in England and America, but throughout Europe.

The book Two Treatises of Government is believed to be written in support and justification of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 in England. Political Scientists agree that Two Treatises of Government was in actuality a "demand for a revolution", very radical for the 17th Century. This piece of political philosophy was in fact an attack against the autocratic monarchical system. Two Treatises of Government is an essay in favor of civil government.

In the edition I read, published by "A Mentor Book from New American Library, New York and Scarborough, Ontario - The New English Library Limited , London, England" in 1963 - the Fifth Printing, has a 169 page introduction that includes an elaborate Editorial Note. These 169 pages inform much about John Locke and his time period, giving us insight to 17th Century England. Found these 169 pages very insightful and helpful; brimming with historical facts.

In the Preface of Two Treatises of Government is an interesting tidbit written by John Locke which reads "Thou hast here the Beginning and the End of a discourse concerning Government; what Fate has otherwise disposed of the Papers that should have filled up the middle, and were more than all the rest, 'tis not worth while to tell thee. These, which remain, I hope are sufficient to establish the Throne of our Great Restorer, Our present King William; to make good his Title, in the Consent of the People, which being the only one of all lawful Governments, he has more fully and clearly than any Prince in Christendom: and to justify to the World, the People of England, whose love of their Just and Natural Rights, with their Resolution to preserve them, saved the Nation when it was on the very brink of Slavery and Ruin." This is the fathering of the idea that the common man should be able to make a contract with his government (a Monarchy too) and the government should hold itself accountable to this type of contract. A very liberal idea for the 17th Century, and was very difficult for the aristocracy of England to accept, let alone admire.

Within the pages of Two Treatises of Government John Locke expertly and legnthily explains what a good Monarch should be, how the people are important (not just the aristocracy), and the importance of a well written Constitution (contract between government and those governed). Upon reading this book, which is written at a very slow philosophical pace, I noticed the roots of many concepts that our Forefathers of the United States placed in our very own Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights, and United States Constitution in order to secure the United States citizens of their "unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." Much of what is written in the Declaration of Independence and The Bill of Rights is in The United States Constitution which is indeed a contract between our government and its citizens that grants their approval. This concept of government receiving approval by its citizens in the form of a contract was first explained by John Locke in Two Treatises of Government.

Highly recommend reading. Not an easy read due to the English is from the 17th Century, but like any Charles Dickens book, well worth plodding through for the nuggets within its pages. Perfect for any at-home library.

For more information about John Locke: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Locke

For United States Constitution view: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html

For the Bill of Rights: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html

The Declaration of Independence: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • wba108@yahoo.com profile image

      wba108@yahoo.com 

      5 years ago from upstate, NY

      "This is the fathering of the idea that the common man should be able to make a contract with his government (a Monarchy too) and the government should hold itself accountable to this type of contract."

      This is the idea behind the US Constitution. It's an idea that's now very much under attack by liberal judges and politicians. They insist that the common man isn't capable of making his own decisions but are in continual need of the government as their benevolent guide and master.

    • aliciaharrell profile imageAUTHOR

      Alicia Rose Harrell 

      6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Our Founding Fathers would agree with you John. They used much from John Locke's works in the creation of the US Constitution. This encouraged me to write this particular hub. David Hume's works did more for England and Europe in their reformation periods. I also agree John Locke did more for humanity. He was well known as a true humanitarian unlike many philosophers of the 18th and 19th century who gave speeches and "looked good for the public," but did not actually do much in humanitarian acts.

    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 

      6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      John Locke is the greatest English philosopher of all times in my point of view. Some say Hume, but overall I think Locke did much more for humanity than Hume ever did...

      Take care Alicia

    • aliciaharrell profile imageAUTHOR

      Alicia Rose Harrell 

      6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Thank you John! :D

    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 

      6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Excellent hub about one of my favorite philosophers - voted "thumbs up" and thanks

      John

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)