The Unvarnished Doctrine: Locke, Liberalism, and the American Revolution

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Duke University Press, Feb 15, 1994 - History - 247 pages
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.

Selected pages


The Historiographic Revolution The Rise of Cato and the Decline of Locke in American Revolutionary Thought
A Discourse on Method
The Lockean Response to British Innovations
Historiography and the Interpretation of Political Theory
Theistic Liberalism in the Teaching of the New England Clergy
History Myth and the Secular Salvation of American Liberalism

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About the author (1994)

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

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