Two Tracts on Government

Recommended edition: Political Essays, ed. Mark Goldie (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 3-78.


I have chosen to draw a great part of my discourse from the supposition of the magistrate’s power, derived from, or conveyed to him by, the consent of the people, as a way best suited to those patrons of liberty, and most likely to obviate their objections, the foundation of their plea being usually an opinion of their natural freedom, which they are pat to think too much entrenched upon by impositions in things indifferent. Not that I intend to meddle with that question whether the magistrate’s crown drops down on his head immediately from heaven or be placed there by the hands of is subjects, it being sufficient to my purpose that the supreme magistrate of every nation what way soever created, must necessarily have  an absolute and arbitrary power over all the indifferent actions of his people.