America’s Revolutionary Mind with C. Bradley Thompson | BRI Scholar Talks
We all know the Declaration of Independence, but do we know the philosophical and moral underpinnings behind the famous document? In this Scholar Talk video, BRI Senior Teaching Fellow, Tony Williams and C. Bradley Thompson, Professor of Political Science at Clemson University, discuss Thompson's book "America's Revolutionary Mind: A Moral History of the American Revolution and the Declaration That Defined It." How did the moral ideas of natural rights and self-government borrowed from Enlightenment thinkers like John Locke help shape the founding of the nation? In what way was the Revolution, as Adams called it, a “Revolution [that] was in the Minds and Hearts of the People?”
Rights and the Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence, based in part on the philosophy of John Locke, was an “expression of the American mind”. Going back to Magna Carta, British nobles had petitioned the monarch demanding limits to his power. But Locke argues and the Declaration of Independence asserts that legitimate government is based on the consent of the governed. Locke’s ideas were too democratic, too revolutionary for his time in England, but a century later they had a firm hold in the American colonies, and in 1776 they were the basis of the original and most fundamental American statement of rights, the Declaration of Independence.
The Declaration of Independence – Docs of Freedom
The Declaration of Independence was drafted by Thomas Jefferson in June of 1776. The Declaration announced to the world that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves independent sovereign states. It articulates the fundamental ideas that form the American Nation: All people are created free and equal and possess the same inherent, unalienable rights. This lesson plan includes six activities. The activities can be taught in sequence as a comprehensive overview of the Declaration of Independence or individual activities can be taught as stand-alone lessons.