Excerpts from Montesquieu�s by cXVwb19

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									Aiden McConnell
Will Bitsky
Chelsea Steinberg
Honors Western 5
February 10, 2009
                                           Montesquieu
                                           (1689-1755)

Background/Career:

        January 18, 1689: born in Bordeaux, France
        1705: Montesquieu studied law at University of Bordeaux
        practiced law as well as being an active member of science academy at Bordeaux
        1721: published Persian Letters
        1746-1750: Completion and publication of The Spirit of the Laws-- was greatly received,
            o immediately recognized as masterpiece
            o served as part of the foundation for the U.S. Constitution
        1750: published The Defense of the Spirit of the Laws and Essay on Taste
        1755: died in Paris, France


Political theory:


        Admired Ancient Rome and modern England (like Voltaire)
        Explored how liberty could be achieved and despotism avoided in both Persian Letters
         and The Spirit of the Laws
        Divided government into republics, monarchies, and despotisms
            o   Republics: virtue and moderation; prone to give way to excess
            o   Monarchies: honor; prone to corruption
            o   Despotisms: Fear; prone to repression
        Powers separated and checks and balances existed within institutions of the state
        Absolute separation of judicial branch from all other branches
        Punishment should fit crime, but be humane
        Felt the monarchy was most realistic solution
            o   still needed strong and independent aristocracy to restrain its tendency towards
                corruption and despotism
                                 Excerpts from Montesquieu’s
                                    The Spirit of the Laws


Quote 1: Jon, Sarah, Margi, Caitlin
"As distant as heaven is from the earth, so is the true spirit of equality from that of extreme
equality... In a true state of nature, indeed, all men are born equal, but they cannot continue in
this equality. Society makes them lose it, and they recover it only by the protection of laws."



Quote 2: Zach, Gabby, Mikolaj, Mike A
"In republican governments, men are all equal; equal they are also in despotic governments: in
the former, because they are everything; in the latter, because they are nothing."




Quote 3: Sophie, Lola, Joosje, Alex
"In every government there are three sorts of power: the legislative; the executive in respect to
things dependent on the law of nations; and the executive, in regard to things that depend on the
civil laws."




Quote 4: Charlotte, Mike S, David, Terrance, Liz
"The monarchies we are acquainted with [i.e., France], have not, like that we have been
speaking of, liberty for their direct view; their only aim is the subject's, the state's, and the
prince's glory. But from this glory there results a spirit of liberty, which in those governments
may perform as great things, and may contribute as much perhaps to happiness, as liberty itself.”

								
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