Impact Of John Locke And The French Revolution

1271 Words 6 Pages
Maxwell James
Mr. Puzzo
World History (H)
John Locke and the French Revolution

John Locke was a French philosopher and was interested in how a citizen and a government interact together, in times of peace and in times of tension. John Locke studied government and came to many conclusions; the role of government is to protect citizen’s natural rights: Life, Liberty and property. If a government wasn’t adequately protecting citizen’s natural rights, the citizens had a responsibility to overthrow that government and establish a new government that does better to protect those rights. The theory of natural rights is that every human being is endowed with certain unalienable rights that the government has a responsibility to protect.
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He believed that government is a construct of humans to protect natural rights, therefor when it is not doing its main job as outlined by John Locke then it has overstayed its welcome and needs to be refreshed with a more competent form. In France in 1789 there was a food crisis of massive proportions. A bad year of farming coupled with a boom in population created a food shortage, causing the price of food to rise to a point that families were starving because most of their income was going to taxes. The French government only taxed the 3rd estate, which caused divisions among the estates. The 3rd estate thought it was unfair that even though they made the least amount of money, they had to pay the most taxes. With families spending most of their income on taxes, what little was left over was put toward food, which the price rose dramatically. Locke would argue that a government job of protecting life, liberty and property would cover the act of helping citizens buy food to stay alive and keep their families nourished. The French government was not attempting to help, effectively not protecting the right to life outlined as the main job of government by Locke. The enlightenment ideas of John Locke also created civil unrest with the idea of a king. Locke argued that in order for a government to be legitimate that it had to have the consent of the people it would rule. The main way he …show more content…
When Napoleon left France, he left many of his social and political advancements in place. The Napoleonic code was left in place because simply it worked. John Locke’s social, contractual and natural rights ideas made it into the Napoleonic code, further proving his massive role in the revolution. The new laws left France in a better place socially than before the revolution. European leaders also were stuck with fear that their countries would see that light in Locke’s ideas of what a government should and shouldn’t be, and revolt against their leaders. To combat this the leaders quickly and efficiently restored France to a monarchy putting King Louis XVI in charge of France again. The French revolution also set a social standard that if a government was not effectively protecting citizen’s natural rights and keeping general order then it was likely going to be overthrown. This added an incentive for monarchs to keep their citizens happy, not just the rich ones either; the whole population. If it was possible for the 3rd estate to overthrow the French government, it was possible anywhere and for any reason. There were also lasting feelings of resentment toward external countries for attempting to stop what the people wanted; a new

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