Thomas Hobbes

Philosopher who influenced the Founding Fathers and the First Principles

The Founding Fathers were heavily influenced by English philosopher Thomas Hobbes in establishing America’s First Principles, most notably the recognition of unalienable rights, the Social Compact, and limited government.

Born on April 5, 1588, in Wiltshire, England, Hobbes was trained in the classics and became the tutor to a powerful, noble family. 

In 1651, Hobbes wrote one of the most influential philosophical treatises in human history, Leviathan or the Matter Forme and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil.  Like his rival, John Locke, Hobbes posited that in a state of nature men and women were free to pursue and defend there own interests, which resulted in a state of war in which “the life of man” was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

 To escape this warfare, individuals established government to secure the peace – this forms the basis of the Social Compact theory of government, and was readily embraced by the Founding Fathers and Locke

Locke and the Founding Fathers, however, rejected Hobbes’ argument that the government had absolute power over its subjects.  Instead, the Founding Fathers embraced Locke’s ideas of the protection of unalienable rights and limited government in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.   

Hobbes died on December 4, 1679.   

For more about Hobbes, the Founding Fathers and First Principles and their importance to our liberties today, buy a copy of  America’s Survival Guide.

Picture:  John Michael Wright, National Portrait Gallery, London.



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