The Declaration of Independence was founded on a Puritan Solemn League and Covenant. Yes, rights were part of the idea, but not the main reason for revolution. Adams and Dr. Joseph Warren wrote the Solemn League document that was far from the secular compact of John Locke. In fact, Locke was only repeating Rutherford, who was repeating Calvin, including the Natural Law tradition, taken from Romans 2:14-15, and enumerated in a more excellent light, whereby Hooker, Pufendorf et al., built upon, guiding the patriot preachers to exposite the Natural rights of the colonists, preceding the American Revolution. Unitarian preachers (Samuel West) are the minority and do not represent the biblical view of Romans 13 nor the views in the declaration of independence.
Here is Professor and British historian Jack Richon Pole:
Modern philosophers see Locke to be the inspiration behind the DOI in spite of its Calvinist foundation. Furthermore, there is a connection between Locke and Rutherford. Locke met him, most likely many times and knew him intimately because Locke's dad was Rutherford's friend. This post written last year by David Kopel is another example of Locke's connection to Rutherford. Locke read Lex Rex, then secularized his views, removing the covenantal structure the founding fathers put into the declaration of independence. Rutherford's influence is seen through Witherspoon and Adams, just as Francis Schaeffer writes.It isn't surprising to claim the idea of popular sovereignty and representative government by the Colonists of the 1760's was not influenced, as is generally believed, by the political theology of John Locke..Very little evidence exists to suggest that Locke exerted any effective influence on the political thought of the Colonists until Thomas Jefferson came to draft the Declaration of Independence.-Political representation in England and the origins of the American Republic (Macmillan 1966). H. Trevor Colborum, Thomas Jefferson's Use of the Past, "William and Mary Quarterly" Jan. 1958, 56-70.
As to empiricism, Schaeffer destroyed Locke's argument just as Berkeley did in the 18th century. Locke contradicted himself by removing the biblical basis for government in exchange for empiricism, yet if experience doesn't come from inside man, it must come from where everyone else found it; and Locke rejected that source, killing his own argument. Locke's empiricism ignored the very foundation of natural rights. Schaeffer was just repeating what Berkeley found in Locke's flawed reasoning.
Moreover, by 1681, Locke himself owned a copy of Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos and most other Calvinistic resistance tracts. (Hall. A Heart Promptly Offered, p. 297).
It was Covenantal Puritanism that was the basis of the DOI, given the document itself claims the King abdicated because he broke the covenant between himself and the people, as well as violated their natural rights. Here, is the noted former Emeritus Professor at Columbia:
From the Bay Colony came the great intellectual leaders, the theologians who became the leaders … in the establishment of New England colonies… Nor was its influence restricted to New England, for its ideals and aspirations… became the dominant influence in the development of the United States.--Joseph Dorfman, The Economic Mind in American Civilization, vol. 1, ch.3
Even Robert N. Bellah notes, Puritanism was the foundation for our constitutionalism; what he coined, our "civil religion."
Prominent 19th Century historian Alex d'Tocqueville did not give Enlightenment Rationalism, or John Locke the foundation, but understood Puritan Covenant Theology that spread throughout the new nation:
In was in the English colonies… better known as the states of New England, that the two or three main principles now forming the basic social theory of the United States were combined. New England principles spread first to the neighboring states and then…to those more distant, finally penetrating everywhere… Their influence now extends beyond its limits over the whole American world…”--Alex d’Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Book I, ch. 2.
Is it no less a surprise that the political leader of the Revolution was a Calvinist Puritan, speaking for the new nation?
The people of this country, alone, have formally and deliberately chosen a government for themselves, and with open and uninfluenced consent bound themselves into a social compact. Here no man proclaims his birth or wealth as a title to honorable distinction, or to sanctify ignorance and vice with the name of hereditary authority. He who has most zeal and ability to promote public felicity, let him be the servant of the public. This is the only line of distinction drawn by nature.--Samuel Adams, An ORATION Delivered at the State-House, In PHILADELPHIA, To A Very Numerous AUDIENCE; On THURSDAY the 1st of AUGUST 1776.