Guest Essayist: Eric Mack Ph.D., University of Rochester, Professor of Philosophy and the author of John Locke (London: Continuum Press, 2009)

John Locke’s Second Treatise is the much better known half of his Two Treatises of Government. Although the Treatises were not published until 1689, they were composed during the decade that culminated in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. During that decade Locke was deeply involved in opposition to the authoritarian ambitions of Charles II and James II; and the Two Treatises were written to provide intellectual support for resistance against over-reaching monarchical power.

The Stuart Monarchs (James I and Charles I prior to the Civil Wars of the 1640s Read more

Locke’s Two Treatises of Government presented a critique of the divine right of kings and outlined the principles of natural rights and government by consent. Written during the 1670s, they were not published until after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the passage of the English Bill of Rights in 1689. Locke was the political theorist quoted most frequently by Americans in the 1770s.


Chapter II. Of the state of nature.

4. To understand political power right, and derive it from its original, we must consider what state all men are naturally in, and that is, a state of perfect freedom Read more