Front Page Titles (by Subject) Non-Lockean Thought and the Declaration - Literature of Liberty, April/June 1979, vol. 2, No. 2
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
Non-Lockean Thought and the Declaration - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, April/June 1979, vol. 2, No. 2 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
This work is copyrighted by the Institute for Humane Studies, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, and is put online with their permission.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Non-Lockean Thought and the Declaration
“The Significance of the Non-Lockean Heritage of the Declaration of Independence.” American Journal of Jurisprudence 21 (1976): 156–177.
For many the Declaration of Independence is the central document of the American political tradition. And although it was authored by Thomas Jefferson, portions of the Declaration seem almost as if they were “cribbed” from John Locke's Second Treatise. The echoes of Lockean political philosophy within the Declaration have lead a great many Americans to view the Declaration as simply providing an American expression of Locke's principles. Without denying a strong Lockean element in the Declaration, Professor Nicgorski does argue that the conventional understanding of the Declaration ignores its non-Lockean side and the non-Lockean aspects of Jefferson's thinking. Moreover, Nicgorski claims that “the Declaration's creed is but a partial statement, often no doubt a misleading statement, of the vital moral-political convictions of the founding period.”
Nicgorski devotes the bulk of his article to an examination of the important non-Lockean influences on the Declaration and on the “moral-political convictions of the founding period.” He concludes that a renewal of the American political order—i.e., its salvation from the “corrosive” influence of the nearly unbridled play of private interests and desires—will require a broader conception of the moral foundation of the American political order than the political philosophy of John Locke.