In the late 1600s, John Locke outlined the inalienable rights granted to man by his Creator. Much of what he says sounds very similar to the Preamble to the United States' Constitution. He believed all men were created equally and none should be subject to another except to prevent one from imposing on the freedoms of another. His Treatise was written near the time of the Glorious Revolution and offered ideas that were used later in the development of democratic governments. He had a dramatic influence on the Enlightenment Period. This essay will briefly outline Locke's theories about the formation of political societies as they appear in his Second Treatise of Government. First it will discuss why people form political societies; next it will outline some of the philosophical ideas introduced by Locke that led to the formations of democratic rule; then it will discuss the historical context of Locke's treatise; and, finally, it will summarize Locke's influence on The Enlightenment.
According to John Locke, a group of people forms a political society by banding together to preserve or protect their lives, their freedoms, and their property (Bennett 40). John Locke believed people formed political societies for several reasons, but first and foremost he suggested that people create political societies for protection. Men living on their own have a lot of freedom. Locke says, "If he is absolute lord of his own person and possessions, equal to the greatest and subject to nobody-why will he part with his freedom? Why will he give up his lordly status and subject himself to the control to someone else's power" (Bennett 40). In John Locke's treatise he expresses a belief that there is a natural state in all men given to them by their creator to love others and do no man harm. This natural state of man causes them to operate by fairness and justice towards others of like species (Bennett 3).