Religion & Liberty Online

Scholars discover Locke manuscript arguing for the toleration of Catholics

Kimberly Uslin reports on the discovery of a of previously unknown manuscript by the philosopher John Locke at the Greenfield Library at St. John’s College:

According to Walmsley and Waldmann, this was the first major discovery of new work by Locke in a generation. While there are occasionally unseen letters or signed documents found, something this “substantial in content” is incredibly rare—particularly because it represented a previously unknown perspective held by Locke.

The manuscript essentially consists of two lists: the first, a set of reasons for tolerating Catholics, which at the time simply meant not actively persecuting the group, and the second a list of reasons not to (which is his much wider-known opinion).

According to Walmsley, the manuscript is directly connected to Locke’s Essay concerning Toleration, and, he says “was most likely its immediate antecedent and inspiration.”

Please do read the entire report on this exciting discovery!

The manuscript itself has been scanned and is available online at the Greenfield Library’s Digital Archives.

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Dan Hugger

Dan Hugger is Librarian and Research Associate at the Acton Institute.