'All the world was America' : John Locke and the American Indian
This thesis examines the role played by America and its native inhabitants in John Locke's Two Treatises of Government. It begins by examining the large collection of travel books written by explorers to the new world in Locke's library. Locke uses the information from these sources selectively, employing those facts which support his view of natural man and ignoring those which do not. His reasons for using the Indians in his Two Treatises goes beyond simply providing empirical evidence. Locke, steeped in the colonial zeal of his patron, the Earl of Shaftesbury, is, particularly in the chapters on property and conquest, arguing in favour of the rights of English colonists. While it has been recognized that Locke's political philosophy reflects the domestic political needs of Shaftesbury, very little has been written in previous scholarship about the Earl's colonial aims. Locke, as secretary to both the Lords Proprietors of Carolina and the Council of Trade and Plantations, was immersed in the colonial questions of his day. Following in the steps of Hugo Grotius, whose notions of property and war were shaped by his employment In the East Indies Company, Locke uses natural law to defend England's colonization of America. His chapters on property and conquest delineate a very English form of settlement. By beginning property In a very specific form of labour, namely agrarian settlement, and denying the right to take over land by virtue of conquest, Locke creates the means by which England can defend its claims in America with regard to both other European powers and the native Indians. The strength of this argument Is demonstrated by the extent to which it was used by ministers, politicians and judges in the early years of the American republic. In particular, Thomas Jefferson's powerful attempts to transform large groups of nomadic Indians into settled farmers can be traced back to Locke's ideas of the natural state and civil society.