What impact did John Locke have on the ideas behind the American Revolution?

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Locke is, from the perspective of political philosophy, particularly famous for his ideas on the social contract and its implications on government. For Locke, government has its origins in a kind of contract, whereby human beings agree to give up some of the unrestrained freedom they enjoy within the State of Nature in order to protect those freedoms which are most critical to human flourishing: life, liberty, and property. Should a government proceed to betray those rights, it loses its legitimacy and rebellion against that government is then understood as a justified action.

These ideas and assumptions are reflected in the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence, for example, makes a very Lockean claim that there exists "certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" and that it is the purpose of government to "secure these rights." Furthermore, consider the rationale that is used to defend the American Revolution, which is also very Lockean. According to the Declaration of Independence, the British government has been acting tyrannically towards the colonies. It is on these grounds that the colonists defend rebellion.

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