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The Unvarnished Doctrine Locke, Liberalism, and the American Revolution by Steven M. Dworetz

The Unvarnished Doctrine Locke, Liberalism, and the American Revolution


The Unvarnished Doctrine Locke, Liberalism, and the American Revolution by Steven M. Dworetz

In The Unvarnished Doctrine, Steven M. Dworetz addresses two critical issues in contemporary thinking on the American Revolution-the ideological character of this event, and, more specifically, the relevance of America's Philosopher, the Great Mr. Locke, in this experience. Recent interpretations of the American revolution, particularly those of Bailyn and Pocock, have incorporated an understanding of Locke as the moral apologist of unlimited accumulation and the original ideological crusader for the spirit of capitalism, a view based largely on the work of theorists Leo Strauss and C. B. Macpherson. Drawing on an examination of sermons and tracts of the New England clergy, Dworetz argues that the colonists themselves did not hold this conception of Locke. Moreover, these ministers found an affinity with the principles of Locke's theistic liberalism and derived a moral justification for revolution from those principles. The connection between Locke and colonial clergy, Dworetz maintains, constitutes a significant, radicalizing force in American revolutionary thought.


Provocative and challenging, Dworetz's argument is calculated to unsettle intellectual complacency and to prompt Americans to a new appreciation of the liberal philosophic foundations of liberal philosophy. -Wilson Carey McWilliams, Rutgers University

About the Author

Steven M. Dwortez is Associate Professor of Political Science at Wheaton College, Norton, Massachusetts.

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Book Info

Publication date

15th February 1994


Steven M. Dworetz

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Duke University Press


264 pages


Liberalism & centre democratic ideologies
Western philosophy: c 1600 to c 1900



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