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The Spirit of Laws [With an "Account of the Author's Life and Writings" extracted from "Eloge de M. de Montesquieu" by M. de Maupertuis]
Worcester: Printed by Isaiah Thomas, Jun. sold by him and by Mathew Carey, Philadelphia; also by the various Booksellers throughout the United States, 1802. First American edition. The first edition was published in 1748. The first translation into English was by Thomas Nugent in 1750 (1752 according to the DNB) which went through several editions. It may be this translation in the American edition. 8vo. Two volumes bound as one. Contemporary calf. Rebacked, new endpapers, hole in upper margin of title and adjacent leaves, tear on final leaf affecting a few letters, browning and offsetting. In a leather tipped brown cloth open end case. First American edition. The first edition was published in 1748. The first translation into English was by Thomas Nugent in 1750 (1752 according to the DNB) which went through several editions. It may be this translation in the American edition. 8vo. In thirty-one books Montesquieu treats the historical origins and principles of laws. The books fall into six sections, the first dealing with forms of government and law in general (eight books); the second with taxation and military arrangements (five books); the third, with manners and customs and their "dependence on climatic conditions" (six books); the fourth with economic matters (four books); the fifth consisting of three books relates to religion; and the last five books (sixth section) with Roman, French and feudal law. This work is "an assemblage of the most fertile, original and inspiriting views on legal and political subjects, put in language of singular suggestiveness and vigour, illustrated by examples which are always apt and luminous, permeated by the spirit of temperate and tolerant desire for human improvement and happiness, and almost unique in its entire freedom at once from doctrinairism, from visionary enthusiasm, from egotism, and from an undue spirit of system" (Ency. Brit.) "One of the greatest masterpieces of political theory and a pioneering work in sociology ... In its stress on the historical role of the nobility as a check to royal power it provided a theoretical justification for the resurgance of aristocratic power which was so important in the origins of the French Revolution ... its emphasis on the separation of powers of government and on a system of checks and balances profoundly influenced constitutional thought in both America and France" (Charles B. MacNamara, "France in the Age of Revolution," Cornell, 1981). Montesquieu's disapproval of slavery and of religious intolerance are both voiced in this work as are his views on witchcraft (sceptical). In the "Preface" the author writes "I have laid down the first principles, and have found that the particular cases apply naturally to them, that the histories of all nations are only consequences of them; and that every particular law is connected with another law, or depends on some other of a more general extent." One of the primary evidences of Montesquieu's teachings that "in a republican government the whole power of educaion is required if the virtue that makes men choose public over private interest is to be sustained" appears in Jefferson's "Bill for More General Diffusion of Knowledge" of 1779 (Cremin "American Education" p. 439). Shaw and Shoemaker 2682; Tchemerzine viii, 459/60 and PMM 197 for the first edition; McCulloch, pp. 356-8 for the first English edition
      [Bookseller: James Cummins Bookseller]
Last Found On: 2015-10-10           Check availability:      Biblio    

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