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Locke’s 1698 Virginia Plan

Side-by-Side Transcription

As a leading member of the Board of Trade after the Glorious Revolution in 1688, John Locke investigated and wrote a lengthy plan to reform Virginia laws and policies, including polices of governance and that related to slavery.

About

In 2017, Holly Brewer published an article in the AHR that proved that John Locke was the actual author of the 1698 Virginia Plan. The document is an assessment of colonial Virginia that reveals the results of the headright system and the structures of government developed under royal directive. The document further provides for John Locke’s suggestions on how to reform the system to make it more in-line with the ideological shifts of the Glorious Revolution.

The Virginia Plan assesses how the policies of Stuart governance influenced the development of the Virginia colony, including the policies that fostered a slavery-based society and a centrally controlled colonial government. Locke’s suggested reforms provide the opportunity to assess what changes the Whigs and William III looked to achieve and what that reveals about their theory of governance.

Further Reading
  • Holly Brewer; Slavery, Sovereignty, and “Inheritable Blood”: Reconsidering John Locke and the Origins of American Slavery, The American Historical Review, Volume 122, Issue 4, 1 October 2017, Pages 1038–1078, https://doi.org/10.1093/ahr/122.4.1038
  • Kammen, Michael G. “Virginia at the Close of the Seventeenth Century: An Appraisal by James Blair and John Locke.” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 74, no. 2 (1966): 141-69. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4247202.
  • Ashcraft, Richard. “Political theory and political reform : John Locke’s Essay on VirginiaWestern political quarterly.  22 (1969):742-758.
Sources

MS Locke e.9, ff. 1-39, Lovelace Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Other Information

Subject: Colonial Governance
Source: Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
Date: 1698
Contributor: Slavery, Law, and Power Project
Format: Handwritten document
Language: English
Type: Manuscript

Cite this page
Slavery Law & Power in Early America and the British Empire (October 4, 2022) Locke’s 1698 VA Plan Side-by-Side Transcription. Retrieved from https://slaverylawpower.org/lockes-1698-va-plan-side-by-side/.
"Locke’s 1698 VA Plan Side-by-Side Transcription." Slavery Law & Power in Early America and the British Empire - October 4, 2022, https://slaverylawpower.org/lockes-1698-va-plan-side-by-side/
Slavery Law & Power in Early America and the British Empire February 11, 2022 Locke’s 1698 VA Plan Side-by-Side Transcription., viewed October 4, 2022,<https://slaverylawpower.org/lockes-1698-va-plan-side-by-side/>
Slavery Law & Power in Early America and the British Empire - Locke’s 1698 VA Plan Side-by-Side Transcription. [Internet]. [Accessed October 4, 2022]. Available from: https://slaverylawpower.org/lockes-1698-va-plan-side-by-side/
"Locke’s 1698 VA Plan Side-by-Side Transcription." Slavery Law & Power in Early America and the British Empire - Accessed October 4, 2022. https://slaverylawpower.org/lockes-1698-va-plan-side-by-side/
"Locke’s 1698 VA Plan Side-by-Side Transcription." Slavery Law & Power in Early America and the British Empire [Online]. Available: https://slaverylawpower.org/lockes-1698-va-plan-side-by-side/. [Accessed: October 4, 2022]

See the full manuscript

Some of the Cheif Greivances
of the present Constitution of Virginia,
With an Essay towards the Remedies thereof
1. Greivance
The country ill peopled
Supposeing the evil consequences hereof are in great measure apparent I shall pass them lightly over. Only in a word for want of people.

  1. The Country cannot defend itself against an Enemy.
  2. So much less Tobacco is made, and consequently so much less Shipping employed; soemuch less English goods rended, and soemuch less Custom paid to the Crown of England
  3. Many other usefull Improvements for the Kingdom of England are neglected, which if the country were well peopled; might be made among the English; and for which a great deal of money is now yearly exported out of this Nation such as

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