Two Treatises of Government


Category: Liberty & Dignity

By John Locke

Published in 1694

Reference #0205

Second Edition. John Locke first published “Two Treatises of Government” anonymously in 1689 as a defense of the Glorious Revolution.

The first treatise discusses patriarchalism – the idea that the power of the monarchy is absolute – through an attack on Robert Fulmer’s “Patriarcha” in two primary ways: refuting the Biblical support of Fulmer’s thesis and arguing that accepting the ideas in “Patriarcha” can only lead to slavery.

The second treatise focuses on the theory of a civil society. In this theory, Locke states that all men are created equal and valid governments exist only when they have the approval of the people. This influential work’s concepts of freedom, law, and government were foundational to modern democracy and its sentiments are echoed in the American Declaration of Independence.