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John Locke: Philosopher of American Liberty Paperback – May 1, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


In John Locke: Philosopher of American Liberty, Mary-Elaine Swanson shows how modern academia gets it wrong again. The founding fathers of America are often presented as atheists, or at best a bunch of deists, along with all those political philosophers who influenced them Locke being chief among them. Unfortunately, many Christian thinkers have been influenced by these views, writing that Locke exalted reason above revelation and saw the laws of nature as more valuable than the laws of nature s God. Swanson clearly shows that Locke was no deist, rationalist, or secularist, but Christian in his and Biblical in his worldview. According to Locke, the holy Scripture is to me . . . the constant guide of my belief; and I shall always hearken to it, as containing infallible truth relating to things of the highest concernment. Swanson does an excellent job in clarifying ideas of Locke that are misunderstood, including tabula rasa (the mind as a blank slate) and the laws of nature. She clearly traces the influence of Locke upon the founding of America and shows how the founding fathers and founding clergy looked to Locke as the source of many of their ideas. Jefferson considered Locke as one of the three greatest men that ever lived. Swanson s book is the best way you can get to know this important man. --Stephen McDowell President, The Providence Foundation and Biblical Worldview University Free men, especially in America, have recognized a minimum of six kinds of liberty. Christians the world over, no matter what form of civil government prevails, can enjoy the first two kinds of internal, God-given liberty: Spiritual or Christian liberty (Romans 2:8; 2 Cor. 3:17; Gal. 5:1) and its correlative, liberty of conscience (Acts 16:24). But in God s Providence, Americans studied and appropriated much of John Locke s view of God, man, and government and subsequently enjoyed the fullest expression of the four external liberties once secured by our Constitutional Federal Republic: economic, religious, civil, and political liberty. In this compelling and timely volume, Mary-Elaine Swanson affirms John Locke s Christian character and convictions, and documents how he inspired the American clergy and our founding statesmen, far in advance of others, to elucidate the Biblical and reasonable ground or foundation of American Liberty. Read and be refreshed with the historic path of Biblical reasoning which helped to establish and advance the greatest expression of individual liberty in the history of the world. --James B. Rose Author, Educator, and President of the American Christian History Institute Government today is on steroids, taking rights from the people at an exponential rate. This is exactly why Mary-Elaine Swanson s timely book, John Locke Philosopher of American Liberty, is so vitally needed. If Americans are not aware of where our liberties came from, they will slip through our fingers like sand. The most common form of government in all of the 6,000 years of recorded human history has been dictatorship. Whether called Pharaohs, Caesars, Emperors, Sultans, Rajas, Kings, Khans, Kaisers, or Czars, power always concentrates into the hands of one individual the dictator. Equality is relative, based on how close a relationship you can get to this dictator. If you are his friend, you are more equal, if you are not his friend, you are less equal, and if you are his enemy, you are dead it s called treason. In America, we take for granted ideas such as inalienable natural rights, private property, right to resist unlawful authority, parental authority, separation of powers, and social compact where governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Our liberties did not occur by accident. They are the result of centuries of sacrifice and brilliant minds, such as John Locke. We are greatly indebted to M --William J. Federer Best-selling author of America s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations, Change to Chains the 6,000 Year Quest for Control.

Mrs. Mary-Elaine Swanson, author of numerous biographical sketches found in the appendix of The Christian History of the Constitution of the United States of America, was encouraged by Misses Verna Hall and Rosalie Slater of The Foundation for American Christian Education to pursue her interest in John Locke. The three of them knew that Locke had suffered many things at the hands of modern scholars, who in general selectively quoted Locke to support various ideas and philosophies alien to his thinking. In addition to her many other scholarly endeavors, Mrs. Swanson spent years researching Locke and interacting with modern Lockean scholarship in order to prepare her subject. The reviewer remembers seeing evidence of this work in 1983 at a Pilgrim Institute conference held in Michigan, and at that time she had already been engaged in it for years. The author writes as an historian to successfully defend Locke against charges of deism and atheism and to show that he was an orthodox Christian, a philosopher of free government, a theologian, a physician, a diplomat, an educator, a founder of the Bank of England, and a monetary reformer. John Locke is written in a clear, concise, accessible style that maintains a good balance between the informal and the scholarly with extensive documentation. The biography of Locke shows how thoroughly he influenced the England of his day. Locke s ideas came to beadapted by England in its Glorious Revolution , as it moved from an absolute to a limited monarchy in which the king ruled with the Parliament. Owing to the wide circulation and study of Locke s two Treatises on Civil Government in America, the Founding Father adopted his philosophy and embodied it, not only in the U. S. Constitution, but in local and state/colonial governments. In France, Locke s ideas were abandoned with the grim consequences of the French Revolution. Review by Mr. Darold Booton --Pilgrim Institute website: pilgriminstitute.org

What could 21st-century Americans luxuriating in their BMWs, iPads, and largely unhindered freedom to worship God in their own individual ways owe to a mild-mannered 17th-century Christian philosopher? In terms of their physical, political, and religious liberties, just about everything. In John Locke: Philosopher of American Liberty, the late Mary-Elaine Swanson has done such a thorough job of proving how the Christian political philosophy of John Locke so completely permeated the thinking of American colonists in the pre-Revolutionary War period, that for anyone to assert otherwise would expose to the world either his ignorance of history or a deliberate intent to defame one of the greatest thinkers of all time. By Michael Gray of The American Culture --The American Culture Blog

About the Author

Mary-Elaine Swanson was a noted historian and author of numerous articles on the American Christian heritage and of the following books: The American Covenant, the Untold Story; The Education of James Madison, A Model For Today.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Nordskog Publishing (May 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0983195730
  • ISBN-13: 978-0983195733
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,957,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By cheryl c malandrinos VINE VOICE on June 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
John Locke: Philosopher of American Liberty is a timely book that is so important today because it shows clearly that Locke believed life, liberty, and property were inalienable rights from God and legitimate government has no authority to take them away. Government is actually bonded to protect and preserve liberty. Though Locke's views have been manipulated over time, Swanson proves through multiple cited examples that American liberty's roots are Biblically based. Swanson believed it is important for every American to know the ideas behind the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The late author has done a great service in correcting the modern notion that our Founding Fathers were deists. The proof is in the writings of the man who greatly influenced how these men framed our form of government, as much as it is in their own writings. But more than that, Swanson's book shows how far away the branches of our government have come from what was originally intended, and offers possible solutions on how to return to our roots.
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John Locke was one of the greats our founding fathers looked to when writing our founding documents. If you are a history buff you will enjoy this book. I use an 1828 dictinary when reading some of the older works because the meaning of words are different in some instances from our founding time than they are tody. Makes it easier to understand at times.

Locke was a great thinker. Once you read his works you will see why the founders turned to him.
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This book is not light reading. It is a scholarly work about the life and influence of the 17th century philosopher. It's not for everybody. But for those of us whom it is for, it is wonderful.

Swanson begins by telling about Locke's life, mostly through the words of his companions. Then she shows how Locke's thoughts and writings were instrumental in the Glorious Revolution in England in the late 1600s. Next comes a great comparison of the American and French Revolutions in terms of the philosophies behind them: the American Revolution being based directly on Locke's ideas . . . and its French counterpart using a perverted twisting of them. She closes the book with an analysis of how America currently seems to be headed away from our Revolutionary roots and toward the path of the failed French philosophy.

This is a historical work, meant for historical study. One doesn't read this book to get a general idea of the ideas and thoughts behind these great movements of world history. One reads this book to understand what influenced these ideas in their formation, how they were communicated person to person, how they were adopted and rejected by various people in positions of influence, and how they have been misinterpreted and misappropriated over the years. Swanson is trying to get at the original Locke and his original thoughts, defending him from the accusation that his political philosophy was rooted in godless rationalism.

If you are concerned about the direction of our country today, and you have the time and inclination to examine the philosophical basis of it, this is a great book to get you started. (Note: I received this book free from the publisher through Bookcrash in exchange for an honest, not necessarily positive, review.)
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Mary-Elaine Swanson's book on John Locke is more than a biography, although it is also that. This book is a study of John Locke's influence on a variety of times and places. Fittingly, therefore, Swanson's book is split into five sections: one a biography of Locke and the remaining four a study of how Locke influenced revolutions across three countries.

American readers will gravitate toward the book's third section, where Swanson evaluates John Locke's role in America's development. Swanson's own interest and research shines in this section, which is more than 50% longer than any other. I was fascinated to learn that American clergy filled their sermons and political speeches with both quotes and ideas from Locke's writing.

To my surprise, Swanson cites nearly no original writings of the French philosophes in her section on those thinkers behind the French Revolution. Instead, she cites secondary sources, written by authors favorable to her worldview. (Chapter 12, on Rousseau does not have this same deficiency. There, Swanson frequently refers to Rousseau's own works.) I don't feel confident that Swanson's writing in this section accurately reflects the French secularist philosophy, unlike the sections on Locke, where she flooded the footnotes with direct references to Locke's own writings.

That chapter aside, Swanson's work reflects an admirable depth of research. The book contains more than 800 footnotes, each of which evidences the great care this author put into presenting a full picture of John Locke and his intellectual influence on the world.
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"John Locke: Philosopher of American Liberty" by Mary-Elaine Swanson is a biographical look at famed theologian, philosopher, and educator, John Locke. What I found to be really interesting about this book is the sheer amount of impact that John Locke had on the founding principles of the United States of America. You hear so much about founding fathers, but to see one of the figures that really molded their ideals was really fascinating. This book is a biography of John Locke, from birth onward. This book is quite long, nearly 400 pages of reading, but it is genuinely interesting. I would say that this book is a wonderful addition to the bookshelf of history lovers. I would give this book a 5/5 - well written, interesting, and historically accurate. Great read!
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