Seminar – John Locke, Treaties and the Two Treatises of Government

Join the VUW History Programme and VUW Faculty of Law for a special co-hosted webinar by Professor David Armitage (Harvard University) on “John Locke, Treaties and the Two Treatises of Government”:

When: Friday 28th May, 8:30am – 10am (Wellington)

            Friday 28th May, 6:30am – 8am (Sydney)

            Thursday 27th May, 9:30pm – 11pm (London)

Chair: Dr Valerie Wallace (VUW History)

Comment: Prof Mark Hickford and Prof Campbell McLachlan (VUW Law)

Register here: https://vuw.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_5scedy6qSJWzy44OJ-ByrQ


‘From the beginning of his public career almost to the end of his life, John Locke participated in a burgeoning contemporary culture of treaties. His lifetime almost exactly coincided with the emergence of a public culture of treaties in the late seventeenth century, exemplified by the proliferation of treaty collections, treaty prints and even treaty music. His early secretarial career involved him directly in treaty negotiations; his later administrative activities, especially in relation to English colonisation, regularly engaged him with treaty provisions. This paper argues that Locke’s fifty-year interest in treaties and treaty-making can help to explain one of the enduring puzzles of his Second Treatise of Government: that is, why he separated the powers of government between the executive, the legislative and what he called, in a near-neologism, the “Federative,” or “the Power of War and Peace, Leagues and Alliances, and all the Transactions, with all Persons and Communities without the Commonwealth”. It concludes by inferring how Locke would have imagined that power, based on his decades-long knowledge and experience of the federative in practice.’


DAVID ARMITAGE is the Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History at Harvard University and an Affiliated Faculty Member at Harvard Law School. A prize-winning writer and teacher, he is the author or editor of eighteen books, among them Civil Wars: A History in Ideas (Knopf, 2017), Foundations of Modern International Thought (Cambridge UP, 2013), The Declaration of Independence: A Global History (Harvard UP, 2007) and The Ideological Origins of the British Empire (2000). He is currently completing an edition of John Locke’s colonial writings for the Clarendon Press.

About anzlhswebsite

The Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society was formed in 1993. It is an interdisciplinary group of scholars who share an interest in the connections between law and history. The society grew out of the annual Law in History Conferences, which have been running since 1982. Members of the society include historians, lawyers, academics and others interested in the area. Most of the members live in Australia or New Zealand, but their areas of interest are not confined to the law in those places. The society is an incorporated association in New South Wales. Inc no. 1600224
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