What is freedom? One definition for that term can be, "the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved." Another can be, "the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint." Either way, the term "freedom" refers to the state of which an individual is free from somethings and can act upon their own according will. John Lock, one of the most influential philosophers of the Modern Era (and one of my favorite philosophers), was a very well-known advocate of people's freedoms. Born in 1632, Locke is commonly known as "the Father of Libertarianism," and his most well-known works include Two Treatises of Government (1689), A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689), and An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690). Much of his writings would go on to influence the writing of the Declaration of Independence for our nation. John Locke argued that people are born as "blank slates", naturally equal, and free, going against the socially normal belief that people are born subjected to a form of monarchy.
Right off the bat in the first page of "The First Treatise" in Two Treatises of Government, John Locke wrote, "Slavery is so vile and miserable an estate of man,...that it is hardly to be conceived that an Englishman, much less a gentleman, should plead for it (Locke 7)." Obviously, Locke was not a fan of slavery. Then again, how could anyone? One of the biggest reasons for the Civil War was over slavery, whether or not African-Americans should be free or remain in the shackles of servitude. Locke believed that all humans are free and equal as part of their natural rights. We each have a natural right to life, liberty, and property. No other authority should be allowed to take away anyone's "life, health, liberty, or possessions", because it would go against the natural laws and, by default, against humanity in general. We are all free and equal in our own measure, because we are all born so. No form of monarchy can place individuals on lower or upper levels of class without violating these natural laws. Locke argued that the government's authority was not absolute, because it was subjected to God's law. He believed that a government should be formed to only help to uphold the natural laws of people. The freedom and equality of man is a "result of a social contract where people in the state of nature conditionally transfer some of their rights to the government in order to better ensure the stable, comfortable enjoyment of their lives, liberty, and property (Tuckness 1)." Basically, a government should not act as a tyrannical form of absolute monarchy, but instead act as a government that must help the people to uphold the natural laws of freedom and equality.
All humans are born with no masters to own them, for each person answers to themselves and acts accordingly. In The Libertarian Mind: A Manifesto for Freedom, David Boaz writes, "Every person is a unique individual. Humans are social animals-we like interacting with others, and we profit from it-but we think and act individually. Each individual owns himself or herself (Boaz 81)." Because we own ourselves, we can think and act in whatever manner we want. We have no masters to answer to, no person owns another, and we answer to ourselves. Because we own ourselves, this does not mean that it's right to kill another person. David Boaz wrote that, "Because every person owns himself, his body, and his mind, he has the right to life. To unjustifiably take another person's life-to murder him-is the greatest possible violation of his rights (Boaz 84)." Humans also have a right to the ownership of property in order to pursue happiness. "Property is a necessity...Property is anything that people can use, control, or dispose of (Boaz 86)." What David Boaz means is that all of human action involves property, and that "property" does not necessarily mean land or other types of physical objects. In the past, some humans were considered "property" which resulted in slavery. While most forms of slavery in the U.S. are abolished, there's still human trafficking, which is considered a form of slavery. As stated before, slavery takes away a person's right to liberty and thus violates the natural law. We all have rights to forms of property to achieve happiness, and we all do not have masters to own us, for we own our bodies, minds, and lives.
Freedom is what defines how a person should be. We all are born free and equal. We each have a right to life, liberty, and property, and we are owned by no one. This is what John Locke wrote and believed. He believed that every man is a free man, and that an absolute monarchy cannot take away his freedom. The only good form of government is one that is created by a social contract from the people in order to uphold the natural laws of humanity. Should that government infringe upon anyone's freedom or other natural right, it should be replaced with a new and better form of government. While freedom is a debate in topics of free speech and gay rights, the American people are free citizens of a nation that has given us rights and freedoms for us to have. Our nation's Declaration of Independence declares that "all men are created equal," statement which was made by John Locke many years before the Revolutionary War, and one that still echoes to this day.
John Locke-Two Treatises of Government
David Boaz-The Libertarian Mind: A Manifesto of Freedom
Alex Tuckness-Locke's Political Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/locke-political/
1st Installment: http://cophilosophy.blogspot.com/2017/04/section-8-1st-installment-dante.html