What were the philosophical underpinnings of the colonists’ revolt against Britain?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The philosophical roots of the colonial rebellion came from Enlightenment thinkers such as John Locke.  These Enlightenment thinkers had a very specific view of the role of government.  To them, government existed only to protect the rights of the people.  People needed governments to protect their rights.  Therefore, they consented to be ruled by those governments.  This means that two things needed to be true of a government in order for it to be legitimate.  First, it had to exist by the consent of the people.  Second, it had to protect their fundamental rights.  If any government did not meet these criteria, it was not legitimate.

The colonists felt the British government did not meet either of these criteria and was therefore not legitimate.  This idea was the basic philosophical underpinning of the rebellion.