Locke: For a General Naturalisation

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In this short paper Locke argues for the general naturalisation of the French Huguenot immigrants who settled in England in the late 1600s. He does not state explicitly that his case is for the French Huguenots, he is talking about naturalisation in general.

His argument is that naturalisation is a fast way of increasing the population of a country, and an increased population can only benefit the nation as a whole: more people can produce more. He gives the example of Holland and Spain to justify his point: Holland is much more densely populated than Spain, and it is more developed.

He responds to the potential argument that a country may become overpopulated if general naturalisation is allowed by saying if the additional labor will not be profitable in the country, the new immigrants could not live better here either, so immigration will stop at the ideal level of population.

He accepts the fact that the naturalisation of immigrants may put downward pressure on the wages of the locals, but he says this will only enhance efficiency in the long run. People will only opt for the services of foreigners if those provide better and cheaper services, thus forcing locals to improve quality and reduce prices.

He also addresses the argument claiming the general naturalisation will increase the number of poor. He says if the immigrants are allowed to and encouraged to integrate to the local society, they are more likely to find jobs and provide for themselves.


Locke, John. “For a General Naturalisation.” In Locke: Political Essays, edited by Mark Goldie, 322-26. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997