Two Treatises of Government

John Locke
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Locke's monumental essay on the responsibilities and limits of government brought forth many of the ideas and moral justifications for both the American and French Revolutions. And his views strongly influenced Jefferson in the writing of the Declaration of Independence. Locke believed that people by nature had certain rights, including life, liberty, and ownership of property. That the task of any state was to protect these rights. And if a government failed to do so, citizens had the right to find other rulers. In short, Locke rejected the traditional theory of the divine right of kings and put forward instead his concept of the "social contract" - the view that the consent of the people is the only true basis for a sovereign's right to rule. To this day Two Treatises continues to shape our concept of what government ought to be.


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