The Treatise Concerning Civil Government

  • George Shelton


Tucker was only one of a large number of pamphleteers expressing an opinion on the American Revolution, although his solution of the problem had few supporters at the beginning. His old opponent John Wesley was moved to write A Calm Address to our American Colonies in 1775. Wesley’s arguments were somewhat similar to those of Tucker: he, too, blamed the anti-monarchists in England for stirring up the colonists in America for their own selfish ends. As for taxation, if Parliament had the right to make laws of any kind for the colonies, it also had the right to impose taxes on them. He urged the Americans to come to their senses, since they were as free under the present system as they could ever be. Republican governments, even that of Holland, tended to be more tyrannical than the mild regime under which they lived. He was not optimistic, however. In a letter to a friend dated 26 December 1775 he wrote,

I see no possibility of accommodation. The one point is, has the supreme power a right to tax, or not? If they have, they cannot, they ought not to, give it up. But I say, as Dean Tucker, ‘Let them drop.’ Cut off all other connexion with them than we have with Holland or Germany. Four-and-thirty millions they have cost us to support them since Queen Anne died. Let them cost us no more. Let them have their desire, and support themselves.1


Civil Society Social Contract Civil Liberty Political Society American Revolution 
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  1. 3.
    William Roberts, Memoirs of the Life and Correspondence of Mrs. Hannah More, 2nd edn (1834) vol. I, p. 70.Google Scholar
  2. 8.
    Josiah Tucker, A Treatise Concerning Civil Government (1781) p. 367.Google Scholar
  3. 9.
    William Molyneux, The Case of Ireland’s Being Bound by Acts of Parliament in England’ Stated (1698) pp. 169–70.Google Scholar
  4. 15.
    Joseph Towers, A Vindication of the Political Doctrine of Mr. Locke… (1781).Google Scholar
  5. 16.
    Jonathan Boucher, A View of the Causes and Consequences of the American Revolution (1797) p. 53 In.Google Scholar

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© George Shelton 1981

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  • George Shelton

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