chapter  III
III A More Perfect Union
Pages 23

For all its clarity and eloquence as a statement of national principles, the Declaration of Independence articulated no new ideas about government. John Adams, a member of the drafting committee, commented on its lack of originality, noting “there is not an idea in it but what has been hackneyed in Congress for two years before.” The political philosophy of the Declaration can be traced to John Locke, whose views on government held sway in America long before the break with England. Some of its ideas predate Locke, going back across the centuries to Magna Carta and the guarantees of the early English common law. The Declaration was essentially a restatement of principles long held by Americans and to which they now recommitted themselves as an independent people.