Hindi and Urdu Since 1800: A Common Reader by Christopher Shackle, Rupert Snell

By Christopher Shackle, Rupert Snell

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Nations had to guard their autonomy or risk losing precious liberties. For all these reasons, English migrants who arrived in the northeastern colonies were strongly conscious of striking out into the perilous unknown on behalf of causes greater than themselves. Th is consciousness made them a peculiar subset of the Anglo-European population: concentrated in their moral fervor and personal intrepidity.  This lore included the dangers of misunderstandings with Indians, the perilous “seasoning” that killed 80 percent of all immigrants to Jamestown before 1625, and the utter disappearance of every person in the Roanoke Colony—including the aptly named Virginia Dare, the first daughter born to English parents who had dared the wilds.

From the reign of reformist Henry VIII (1509–1547) to the reign of Catholic James II (1685–1688), England witnessed a parade of monarchs with competing visions of the domestic religious character of the United Kingdom. When Parliament disappointed, the king dissolved it. Charles I, who many believed was too tolerant of Catholics, ruled for eleven years without calling a single session of the legislature. He was eventually beheaded for his refusal to accept curbs on monarchical power. Indeed, rejection of Catholicism gradually became twinned with a rejection of absolutism in Britain, though not of monarchy per se.

Another way of putting this is that Locke and Jefferson were part of a slowly emerging consensus about human rights, stimulated by the Reformation, that would eventually become global. Locke penned and refined Two Treatises of Government during the turbulent years in which James II was enthroned and deposed, William and Mary were installed, and Parliament approved the Bill of Rights. Although Locke wrote in the language of eternal, philosophical truths, his essay was a defense of contemporary events.

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