Home › Forums › Early Modern Europe › Why do modern scholars try to erase the role of John Locke?
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The Republican (NeoWhig) historians of J.G.A. Pocock, Gordon S. Wood, and Bernard Bailyn have practically written John Locke out of the Revolutionary formula. Their march to impose Old World ideologies has caused them to dismiss Locke as a viable contributor to the ideological origins of the American Revolution. Are they correct to do so, or should Locke retain his once prominent place among American historians?PhidippidesKeymaster
While I am not familiar with those authors, I thought that Locke’s influence in the founding was understood. Interestingly enough I found someone who actually thinks the opposite of those authors you cited – and accuses Jefferson of plagiarism!
Better familiarize yourself with the historians I cited. A serious scholar of American eighteenth-century will have wrestled with these giants of the field copiously.
While you are looking up scholars.....see also: Edmund S. Morgan, Joyce Applebee, Jon Butler, James Hutson, Patricia Bonomi, Jack P. Greene, George Bancroft, Alan Heimert, Perry Miller, Alice Baldwin, Louis Hartz, Nathan O. Hatch, Edwin Gaustad, Sacvan Bercovitch, Sam Mead, Eugene Sirmans, Alan Brinkley, Pauline Maiers, Frank Lambert, Frederick Jackson Turner Maine, Henry Steele Commager, Arthur P. Schlesinger Jr., James MacPherson, Robert Kerby, Lance Banning, George C. Herring, Robert Calhoon, Harvey Jackson, Allan Gallay, Martin Marty, John Philip Reid, Robert Weir, Mark Noll, and Marjolene Kars.
There is more than enough to get you started.PhidippidesKeymaster
Actually, you forgot Nancy Ruttenburg, Ralph Ketcham, Claude Newlin, Peter J. Albert, and Charles M. Andrews. 😉 Actually, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no serious scholar of Eighteenth Century Americana…but maybe a “couch” scholar.
The Eighteenth-Century is fun. Lots of theology, ideology, and philosophy to chew on. I think you have the potential to be a very fine scholar. It’s up to you how far you wish to pursue it. 😀NomadParticipant
I am only slightly familiar with those three neo-Whig historians, but I cannot but guess why such a historian would want to write off John Locke. I agree with anyone who thinks Locke held the prominent position of any other European influence. If they are neo-whigs, they certanly would think that an idea can lead to another, and this leads to matirial action. Hmmmm….Do you recall what uropean thinkers they DID metion as great influences?
They acknowledge the contributions of Lord Bolingbroke, Machiavelli, Berkeley, and Montesquieu. For Pocock, he was interested in the Florentine Republic as a source for American republicanism. I believe they wanted Locke pushed to the side because he had been used so prevalently in other histories. Also, Locke did not always fit into their republican synthesis because they argued from a secular point of view rather than acknowledging the contributions religion made to the Revolution. Colonial preachers cited Locke almost as much as they did the Bible. The Neo-Whigs did not like superimposing religion onto the Revolution. Historians like Nathan Hatch and James Hutson have incorporated the Neo-Whig republicanism, but traced its source to colonial religious dissent. I do not agree with the Neo-Whigs in their strategy to limit the role of Locke. He was an intellectual force that cannot be ignored to the degree they have.NomadParticipant
Well, Locke’s religious views had a great infuence. I don’t know what those scholar’s problem is because its obvious Locke’s views were and easy complementry influence with the founder’s non-theistic Deism.
the founder’s non-theistic Deism
Careful. There is no historical consensus that the Founders were Deists aside from Jefferson and Franklin. Deism is not necessarily non-theistic (just think about it....non-theistic Deism?). Actually Jefferson did believe in God, but he disputed God's role in everyday life. He saw God as the great watchmaker who wound up creation and set it in motion and remained content to let it run its course. No one really knows how deeply religious Madison was, but it was completely certain both he and Jefferson were adamant that religion should play a role in government as the conscience of the people.StumpfootParticipant
I'ts such an injustice to history to write off anyone or anything Because “Professer so and so' doesnt agree with it. State the facts and let the reader decide what he or she wants to think about it.WallyParticipant
We are too hung up on the anti nature of our Revolution; forgetting that most wanted the Crown to just recognize and protect our rights as Englishmen (ala Locke) and only latter were forced to admit that it was time to remake the situation to take care of that chore for ourselves.In another forum I frequent Locke is given very little shift, too bad... if he'd been French (wrong on sooo many levels) perhaps he'd have gotten more play.My $0.02....Wally