John Locke's ideas about life, freedom, government and property ownership were major influences on Thomas Jefferson's writings, including the United States Declaration of Independence. In fact, the words "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" were borrowed almost in entirety from earlier writings by Locke who wrote treatises about government. Jefferson regarded Locke as one of the most important philosophers in regard to the subject of liberty.Continue Reading
John Locke believed that government is a necessary element of society in which everyone benefits, and that people willingly sacrifice some personal liberties in order to be part of that society. He also believed, however, that people had certain inalienable rights, and that governments do not have the right to ask members of the society over which it rules to sacrifice those rights as a condition. Those inalienable rights are life, liberty and property. Locke believed that in having the right to own property, people could pave their own path to happiness.
Thomas Jefferson was not the only founding father who subscribed to these beliefs. James Madison's writings were also heavily influenced by Locke. In fact, Locke's theory of inalienable rights were at the very core of the American Revolution and remain the foundation for the American dream.Learn more about US History
Thomas Jefferson's rise to fame began in 1774 when he wrote the "Summary View of the Rights of British America." This document made him a well-known voice in the argument for American independence from England.Full Answer >
Thomas Jefferson was not a solider during the Revolutionary War; instead he fought diplomatic battles with his writings. He is one of the founding fathers of the United States because his essays inspired colonists to seek independence from Great Britain.Full Answer >
The new Constitution of the United States of America, drafted in September of 1787 and finally ratified by all 13 states in 1790, was met with substantial approval from Thomas Jefferson. He did, however, disagree about a number of issues, many of which were handled by later amendments.Full Answer >
Many people see Thomas Jefferson's greatest failure to be giving up his fight against slavery. While he saw slavery as "a hideous blot" on humanity and made several attempts at its abolishment, he eventually gave it up, deciding to fight only those battles he could win.Full Answer >