Locke in his Two Treatise of Government explores the ideas of the state of Nature, the state of Property and the Beginning of Political Societies. (Among others) Now to fully understand Locke’s argument one must understand what was going on in Europe and in the Americas at the time of his writing. Once the established colonies started profiting, by farming tobacco and the lumber industry, England turned its eyes back to the colonies. England’s goal was to use their system of Mercantilism5 to essentially use the colonies to create raw materials which would later be shipped and sold in England; making bank off the colonies. But a few distractions kept England for executing said plans: Civil war (1642- 1651), the Great Revolution of 1688 and countless wars against France, preventing England to impose the mercantilism system to full effect until after the French and Indian War (1754-1763).
All this in thought John Locke articulated his argument defending the new developing American ideas such as free trade and the consent of the governed. Locke begins his argument by developing the norm for mans state of nature by stating every man has “a state of perfect freedom” in which every man is born into this state of freedom and has the same opportunities that nature has to offer.6
And to protect this state of freedom man has created government; man has taken his freedom and placed it into the hands of an elected representative giving them their political power, Locke expands:
POLITICAL POWER, then, I take to be a RIGHT of making laws with penalties of death, and consequently all less penalties, for the regulating and preserving of property, and of employing the force of the community, in the execution of such laws, and in the defence of the common-wealth from foreign injury; and all this only for the public good.7 Thus not only is it the government’s right to protect the natural state of man but also the preservation of the individual’s property and the will of the community. If man is all free, equal and independent a created government must be one of consent and be ruled by the majority. Without a majority rule and the consent of the governed the formed governed thus would be undemocratic and tyrannical.8
As far as freedom and the right of the individual goes everyman has the right to his property. “The property of his own person”9.Man using his own property, his labor, devotes it to perform a task such as fishing. Thus the fish he caught has become his property and no one else has the right to those fish, except his family which he may “appoint” to, but if man catches more fish that is necessary to feed his family or to meet his needs he is stealing another man’s property.10 John Locke advocated for the life, liberty, property and the consent of the governed and a government should be one based on the common-wealth of the people, by making decisions only benefiting the common-wealth, the overall weal being of man and to protect the property of man were the individual is able to promote himself and look out for his own self-interest.