John Locke’s influence on the American Founding is so overwhelming and obvious that only an academic could deny it. Not only did Thomas Jefferson lift two turns of phrase from the Second Treatise of Government when drafting the Declaration of Independence—the “long train of abuses” and the fact that men are “more disposed to suffer”—but Locke’s teaching on human equality, natural rights, government by consent, religious liberty, and the right to revolution constitute the bedrock of American republicanism, at both the national and state levels.

Among the colonists Locke was the most cited political writer between 1760 and 1775, the period when the revolution was effected in the minds of the people according to John Adams. The “great Mr. Locke,” as some called him, was read and praised not just by Adams and Jefferson, but also by Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and others. One of the signers of the Declaration, Benjamin Rush, called him “an oracle as to the principles…of government.” Thus, a plaque near Locke’s tomb at All Saints’ Church in the small Essex village of High Laver fittingly reads: “[H]is philosophy guided the founders of the United States of America.”

To acknowledge Locke’s tremendous influence on the founding is not to insist Locke et praeterea nihil (Locke and nothing else),

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