Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

William Dean

Second Advisor

David Van Heemst

Third Advisor

Lori R. Fulton

Scholarship Domain(s)

Scholarship of Discovery


The historiography of the American Revolution and the Early National Period remains a polarized debate. Historians attribute either classical Whig republican ideology or classical liberal ideology to influencing those periods. However, republicanism and liberalism exist along a philosophical and practical continuum. Because Louis Hartz attributed American liberalism exclusively to John Locke, I first examine Locke’s relationship to Algernon Sidney, observing similarities between these exemplars of liberalism and republicanism. Next I examine the confluence of Thomas Reid’s commonsense moral philosophy (via John Witherspoon) and republicanism, particularly concerning views on man and moral liberty. These commonalities are further demonstrated in Thomas Jefferson’s agrarianism. Arguing that philosophical interface in republicanism and liberalism has occurred since Plato and Cicero, I underscore a philosophical problem apparent even in classical thought: that individuals are inescapably embedded in community. I conclude that the “boxed-off” paradigms of republicanism and liberalism are no longer useful due to the philosophical and practical commonalities exposed.


M.A. in Philosophy of History thesis completed in 2010 for Olivet Nazarene University.