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John Winthrop’s Speech

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John Winthrop’s speech and the Declaration of Independence share a connection to English philosopher John Locke’s ideals on liberty. In Winthrop’s speech, he talks about the need for man to be subject to some kind of authority in civil liberty in order to be restrained from evil which would result from having what he calls natural liberty. John Locke talks about the same sort of idea when he talks about the need to come under some form of government in order to survive and avoid the state of chaos that would result from remaining in what he calls the “state of nature”. The Declaration of Independence almost directly quotes Locke when it says that, “…that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” It also employed Locke’s idea of submitting to authority for security while retaining personal freedoms. Both also appeal to God as their supreme provider of liberty. Winthrop talks about how the liberty which he calls civil or federal can also be called moral because of the moral covenant between God and man.

He also mentions that subjecting to authority in order to have a better form of liberty is the, “same kind of liberty wherewith Christ hate made us free.” Subjecting to Christ makes you free as will subjecting to governing authority. The Declaration mentions that the “unalienable rights” were endowed to them by their Creator, meaning that God is the provider of their liberty. The Declaration says that, “all men are created equal.” Winthrop would not view liberty in the same way; he believed that all are equal in God’s eyes, but that he has made man unequal so that one man must depend on another. Micah 4:4 was important to the Founding Father’s concept of liberty because it establishes that no man should have those “unalienable rights” invaded upon. The verse provided, as the American Heritage reader says a, “balance between freedom and security.” This balance is what Locke, Winthrop, and Jefferson all believed liberty was.

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