ENGL 145 - Milton TKM paper

ENGL 145 - Milton TKM paper - Carlson 1 Mallory Carlson...

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Carlson 1 Mallory Carlson Professor Dreher ENGL 145 16 October 2007 On Milton’s Tenure of Kings and Magistrates : A Transatlantic Influence John Milton was one of the most prominent revolutionaries of his time. Introducing an innovative set of ideals to the Western world, he had a profound impact upon the political philosophies of future revolutionaries such as Thomas Jefferson and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In his Tenure of Kings and Magistrates , Milton introduces a social contract, arguing that the people or their representatives reserve the right to end the tenure of their king. This concept of the people’s right to choose their government inspired the ideals of both the American and French Revolutions. Living in the early seventeenth century, John Milton was a typical Puritan iconoclast. From his insistence of a free press and legal divorce to his staunch defense of the Puritan Reformation, Milton rebelled against what he saw as oppressive tradition and government. Though Milton never drafted any decisive political documents (as did Jefferson), his Tenure of Kings and Magistrates inspired future revolutionary politicians. Milton argues for the case to execute a tyrant, but also the more radical case for popular sovereignty based on an original social and governmental contract that ensures the people’s right to choose and change their government as they see fit. In a time of monarchical sovereignty, Milton’s ideas overturned the idea of divine rule. In Tenure , Milton argues against the common belief that kings, by their Sovereign status, have a stronger and more reliable connection to the Divine than the rest of humanity; he states, “it follows that to say kings are accountable to none but God is the overturning of all law and government” (Milton 756). According to Milton’s political
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Carlson 2 philosophy, kings and magistrates should be held accountable first and foremost to the people they govern. By assuming the false notion of divine providence, kings justify all
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