John Locke, Concerning Civil Government, 1693, second essay, Ch. 19 Thomas Jefferson [Plagiarist], Declaration of Independence, 1776
Secondly: I answer, such revolutions happen not upon every little mismanagement in public affairs. Great mistakes in the ruling part, many wrong and inconvenient laws, and all the slips of human frailty will be borne by the people without mutiny or murmur. But if a long train of abuses, prevarications, and artifices, all tending the same way, make the design visible to the people, and they cannot but feel what they lie under, and see whither they are going, it is not to be wondered that they should then rouse themselves, and endeavor to put the rule into such hands which may secure to them the end for which government was at first erected... Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Thomas Jefferson, along with the other Founding Fathers, adhered to rather conventional 18th century political ideas, derived mainly from the works of Locke and Montesquieu. The Declaration of Independence, which is often cited in the media as a marvel of originality, is nothing but a trite paraphrase of the leading ideas in John Locke's 1693 Concerning the True Original Extent and End of Civil Government. John Adams thought the DOI was hackneyed, and James Madison apologized for its plagiarism by saying that "The object was to assert, not to discover truths."

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