Jefferson and Locke
“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," (Jefferson) is arguably the most famous quote from the Declaration of Independence but the more educated would know that Thomas Jefferson most likely plagiarized that from John Locke, who said, “All mankind... being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.” It is without a doubt that John Locke’s philosophy during the Age of Enlightenment had influenced Thomas Jefferson when he was writing the Declaration of Independence. Although Jefferson wrote the Preamble as his own, one can see that he was paraphrasing Locke. To Jefferson’s credit, his writing of the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence was important because it built the bridge between a philosophical theory and actually applying it to politics of the time.
In Locke’s essay, Book II called Second Treatise he explains his philosophical approach to the state of nature and how men are bound to a social contract giving consent to the government to protect their unalienable rights.
In chapter 1, Locke gives examples how Adam from the bible was created by God but was not given the absolute power over the world. So Locke said even his children and future heirs did not have this authority. Even if Adam solely being the first man created by God was given absolute power over the world, no one could claim the rights to divine rule because it would be impossible to trace their lineage back to Adam. Although Locke does explain there are different types of powers-paternal, familial, and political- one must not confuse them for another because each has its different characteristics. He defines political power as the right to make laws for the protection and regulation of property backed by society and for its own good.
In Chapter 2, Locke explains the state of nature, in order to help define political power. He says that in reason, everyone is in a state of equality and no one has power over one another and everyone is free to do as they please yet no one can abuse each other because even in the state of nature where there is no government, natural laws exist and they are universal. His example would be that a person in a foreign government commits a crime the person is not free from punishment just because they are not part of that social binding. Locke finishes Chapter 2 by stating that all people are in a state of nature until a social contract is agree among them and that their consent makes them members of a political society.
In Chapter 3, Locke outlines the differences between the state of nature and the state of war for which the two are not the same. In the state of nature, people live together govern by reason without a government, whereas the state of war, people apply force upon another without the government. Locke finishes the chapter by saying that one of the major reasons people enter a social contract and consent to a government is to avoid a state...