John Locke and his Second Treatise of Government (1690), had a major intellectual impact on political controversies surrounding the American Revolution. Although later historians tended to focus on proponents of the American Revolution from the American perspective like Thomas Jefferson, noteworthy opponents of colonial rebellion like Samuel Johnson had very much the same admiration for John Locke’s seminal ideas regarding human equality and individual liberty. An examination of the contrary perspectives on Locke and revolution taken by both of these writers sheds crucial light on conflicting legal assumptions surrounding the creation of the United States. Both writers were scholars of John Locke and understood the concepts Locke outlined in his Second Treatise, by utilizing Locke’s arguments in support of their own, either for separation from England (Jefferson) or for allegiance to the mother country (Johnson). By recourse to two primary texts, Taxation No Tyranny (1775) by Samuel Johnson, and the Declaration of Independence (1776) by Thomas Jefferson, I aim in this thesis to investigate the fundamental ideological positions of both writers, and how they make use of different Lockean arguments to support their contrasting viewpoints on the legality of the American Revolution.
Dr. Thomas Curley, Thesis Advisor
Dr. Jordon Barkalow, Committee Member
Dr. Lee Torda, Committee Member
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Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.
Wright, Joshua. (2019). Samuel Johnson and Thomas Jefferson: Their Contradictory Lockean Responses to the Legality of the American Revolution. In BSU Honors Program Theses and Projects. Item 406. Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/honors_proj/406
Copyright © 2019 Joshua Wright