Leviathan & The Declaration of Independence


"For the savage people in many places of America, except the government of small families, the concord whereof dependeth on natural lust, have no government at all and live at this day in that brutish manner as I said before"  -  Leviathan 

Little did Hobbes know as he wrote these words a mere thirty years after the pilgrims landed on the Mayflower (1620) that his political theories would influence a revolution amongst these "savage people".  Though the declaration of independence would be written over a century later (1776) and be influenced by interpretation of Hobbes thought as well innovative political theories from the likes of John Locke and Jean Jaques Rousseua, there are many parallels that can be drawn from the analysis of both texts.


Leviathan: Chapter 13 (pg 1661)

"Nature had made men so equal in the faculties of body and mind as that, though there be found one man sometimes manifestly stronger in body or of quicker mind than another, yet when all is reckoned together, the difference between man and man is not so considerable as that one man can thereupon claim to himself any benefit, to which another may not pretend as well as he.  For as to the strength of body, the weakest has strength enough to kill the strongest, either by secret machination, or by confederacy with others that are in the same danger with himself" 

The Declaration of Independence

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,--That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness"


Leviathan:  Chapter 15 (pg 1665)

"From that law of nature by which we are obliged to transfer to another such rights as, being retained, hinder the peace of mankind, there followeth a third which is this:  That men perform their covenants made: without which, covenants are in vain, and but empty words; and, the right of all men to all things remaining, we are still in the condition of war.  

And in this law of nature consisteth the fountain and original of Justice.  For where no covenant hath preceded, there hath no right been transferred, and every man has right to every thing; and consequently no action can be unjust; and the definition of injustice is no other than the not performance of covenant.  And whatsoever is not unjust is just."

The Declaration of Independence

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation...

"But When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Depotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

To view a complete text of the Declaration of Independence click below: