John Locke, Thomas Jefferson  & Jean Jacques Rousseau

  According to comments in The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museums website

It would be difficult to overestimate the influence and importance of John Locke's life and writings on the subsequent history of the western world.  Thomas Jefferson referred to Locke as one of "the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception." In writing the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson drew heavily on the doctrines concerning the general principles of liberty and the rights of man which Locke set forth in his work; Of Civil Government. In particular, in the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson copied Locke's words, "Life, liberty and property" which were subsequently changed to "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
Locke's influence is easily perceived in the work of not only Jefferson, but Alexander Hamilton, Jonathan Edwards, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, Voltaire, Montesquieu, Leibnitz (as an opponent) and Kant.


Locke's influence and importance are succinctly and accurately summed up by R.I. Aaron, Professor of Philosophy, University of Wales, who hailed him as the initiator of the age of enlightenment and reason and an inspirer of the Constitution ...and more than a quarter of a millennium after his death, still a powerful influence on the life and thought of the West.

 
The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition.  2001 discusses Locke's Political Theory

Locke is most renowned for his political theory. Contradicting Thomas Hobbes, Locke believed that the original state of nature was happy and characterized by reason and tolerance. In that state all people were equal and independent, and none had a right to harm another’s “life, health, liberty, or possessions.” The state was formed by social contract because in the state of nature each was his own judge, and there was no protection against those who lived outside the law of nature. The state should be guided by natural law.  

Rights of property are very important, because each person has a right to the product of his or her labor. Locke forecast the labor theory of value. The policy of governmental checks and balances, as delineated in the Constitution of the United States, was set down by Locke, as was the doctrine that revolution in some circumstances is not only a right but an obligation. At Shaftesbury’s behest, he contributed to the Fundamental Constitutions for the Carolinas; the colony’s proprietors, however, never implemented the document.

 

What did Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) say regarding Inequality? In his "On the Inequality among Mankind"  his position was -- " I conceive two species of inequality among men; one which I call natural, or physical inequality, because it is established by nature, and consists in the difference of age, health, bodily strength, and the qualities of the mind, or of the soul; the other which may be termed moral, or political inequality, because it depends on a kind of convention, and is established, or at least authorized, by the common consent of mankind. This species of inequality consists in the different privileges, which some men enjoy, to the prejudice of others, such as that of being richer, more honoured, more powerful, and even that of exacting obedience from them."

   Adapted from Encyclopædia Britannica

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