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    montesquieu was one of the enlightenment philosophers that influenced how the founding fathers structured the federal government. based on the quote above, what feature of government did we gain from montesquieu?

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    Baron de Montesquieu, Charles

    Baron de Montesquieu, Charles-Louis de Secondat

    First published Fri Jul 18, 2003; substantive revision Wed Apr 2, 2014

    Montesquieu was one of the great political philosophers of the Enlightenment. Insatiably curious and mordantly funny, he constructed a naturalistic account of the various forms of government, and of the causes that made them what they were and that advanced or constrained their development. He used this account to explain how governments might be preserved from corruption. He saw despotism, in particular, as a standing danger for any government not already despotic, and argued that it could best be prevented by a system in which different bodies exercised legislative, executive, and judicial power, and in which all those bodies were bound by the rule of law. This theory of the separation of powers had an enormous impact on liberal political theory, and on the framers of the constitution of the United States of America.

    1. Life 2. Major Works 3. The 4.

    4.1 Forms of Government

    4.2 Liberty

    4.3 Climate and Geography

    4.4 Commerce 4.5 Religion Bibliography Academic Tools

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    1. Life

    Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu, was born on January 19th, 1689 at La Brède, near Bordeaux, to a noble and prosperous family. He was educated at the Oratorian Collège de Juilly, received a law degree from the University of Bordeaux in 1708, and went to Paris to continue his legal studies. On the death of his father in 1713 he returned to La Brède to manage the estates he inherited, and in 1715 he married Jeanne de Lartigue, a practicing Protestant, with whom he had a son and two daughters. In 1716 he inherited from his uncle the title Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu and the office of Président à Mortier in the Parlement of Bordeaux, which was at the time chiefly a judicial and administrative body. For the next eleven years he presided over the Tournelle, the Parlement's criminal division, in which capacity he heard legal proceedings, supervised prisons, and administered various punishments including torture. During this time he was also active in the Academy of Bordeaux, where he kept abreast of scientific developments, and gave papers on topics ranging from the causes of echoes to the motives that should lead us to pursue the sciences.

    In 1721 Montesquieu published the , which was an instant success and made Montesquieu a literary celebrity. (He published the anonymously, but his authorship was an open secret.) He began to spend more time in Paris, where he frequented salons and acted on behalf of the Parlement and the Academy of Bordeaux. During this period he wrote several minor works: (1724), (1724), and (1725). In 1725 he sold his life interest in his office and resigned from the Parlement. In 1728 he was elected to the Académie Française, despite some religious opposition, and shortly thereafter left France to travel abroad. After visiting Italy, Germany, Austria, and other countries, he went to England, where he lived for two years. He was greatly impressed with the English political system, and drew on his observations of it in his later work.

    On his return to France in 1731, troubled by failing eyesight, Montesquieu returned to La Brède and began work on his masterpiece, . During this time he also wrote , which he published anonymously in 1734. In this book he tried to work out the application of his views to the particular case of Rome, and in so doing to discourage the use of Rome as a model for contemporary governments. Parts of were incorporated into , which he published in 1748. Like the , was both controversial and immensely successful. Two years later he published a to answer his various critics. Despite this effort, the Roman Catholic Church placed on the Index of Forbidden Books in 1751. In 1755, Montesquieu died of a fever in Paris, leaving behind an unfinished essay on taste for the of Diderot and D'Alembert.

    2. Major Works

    Montesquieu's two most important works are the and . While these works share certain themes -- most notably a fascination with non-European societies and a horror of despotism -- they are quite different from one another, and will be treated separately.

    3. The

    The is an epistolary novel consisting of letters sent to and from two fictional Persians, Usbek and Rica, who set out for Europe in 1711 and remain there at least until 1720, when the novel ends. When Montesquieu wrote the , travellers' accounts of their journeys to hitherto unknown parts of the world, and of the peculiar customs they found there, were very popular in Europe. While Montesquieu was not the first writer to try to imagine how European culture might look to travellers from non-European countries, he used that device with particular brilliance.

    Many of the letters are brief descriptions of scenes or characters. At first their humor derives mostly from the fact that Usbek and Rica misinterpret what they see. Thus, for instance, Rica writes that the Pope is a magician who can "make the king believe that three are only one, or else that the bread one eats is not bread, or that the wine one drinks is not wine, and a thousand other things of the same kind" (Letter 24); when Rica goes to the theater, he concludes that the spectators he sees in private boxes are actors enacting dramatic tableaux for the entertainment of the audience. In later letters, Usbek and Rica no longer misinterpret what they see; however, they find the actions of Europeans no less incomprehensible. They describe people who are so consumed by vanity that they become ridiculous, scholars whose concern for the minutiae of texts blinds them to the world around them, and a scientist who nearly freezes to death because lighting a fire in his room would interfere with his attempt to obtain exact measurements of its temperature.

    Source : plato.stanford.edu

    Constitutional Rights Foundation

    CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS FOUNDATION Bill of Rights in Action Spring 2004 (20:2) Developments in Democracy BRIA 20:2 Home | How Women Won the Right to Vote | Have Women Achieved Equality? | Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau on Government   , Starting in the 1600s, European philosophers began debating the question of who should govern a nation. As the absolute rule of kings weakened, Enlightenment philosophers argued for different forms of democracy.

    BRIA 20 2 c Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau on Government

    CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS FOUNDATIONBill of Rights in Action

    BRIA 20 2 c Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau on Government CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS FOUNDATIONBill of Rights in Action Spring 2004 (20:2)

    Developments in Democracy

    BRIA 20:2 Home | How Women Won the Right to Vote | Have Women Achieved Equality? | Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau on Government

    Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau on Government

    Starting in the 1600s, European philosophers began debating the question of who should govern a nation. As the absolute rule of kings weakened, Enlightenment philosophers argued for different forms of democracy.

    In 1649, a civil war broke out over who would rule England—Parliament or King Charles I. The war ended with the beheading of the king. Shortly after Charles was executed, an English philosopher, Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679), wrote Leviathan, a defense of the absolute power of kings. The title of the book referred to a leviathan, a mythological, whale-like sea monster that devoured whole ships. Hobbes likened the leviathan to government, a powerful state created to impose order.

    Hobbes began by describing the “state of nature” where all individuals were naturally equal. Every person was free to do what he or she needed to do to survive. As a result, everyone suffered from “continued fear and danger of violent death; and the life of man [was] solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

    In the state of nature, there were no laws or anyone to enforce them. The only way out of this situation, Hobbes said, was for individuals to create some supreme power to impose peace on everyone.

    Hobbes borrowed a concept from English contract law: an implied agreement. Hobbes asserted that the people agreed among themselves to “lay down” their natural rights of equality and freedom and give absolute power to a sovereign. The sovereign, created by the people, might be a person or a group. The sovereign would make and enforce the laws to secure a peaceful society, making life, liberty, and property possible. Hobbes called this agreement the “social contract.”

    Hobbes believed that a government headed by a king was the best form that the sovereign could take. Placing all power in the hands of a king would mean more resolute and consistent exercise of political authority, Hobbes argued. Hobbes also maintained that the social contract was an agreement only among the people and not between them and their king. Once the people had given absolute power to the king, they had no right to revolt against him.

    Hobbes warned against the church meddling with the king’s government. He feared religion could become a source of civil war. Thus, he advised that the church become a department of the king’s government, which would closely control all religious affairs. In any conflict between divine and royal law, Hobbes wrote, the individual should obey the king or choose death.

    But the days of absolute kings were numbered. A new age with fresh ideas was emerging—the European Enlightenment.

    Enlightenment thinkers wanted to improve human conditions on earth rather than concern themselves with religion and the afterlife. These thinkers valued reason, science, religious tolerance, and what they called “natural rights”—life, liberty, and property.

    Enlightenment philosophers John Locke, Charles Montesquieu, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau all developed theories of government in which some or even all the people would govern. These thinkers had a profound effect on the American and French revolutions and the democratic governments that they produced.

    Locke: The Reluctant Democrat

    John Locke (1632–1704) was born shortly before the English Civil War. Locke studied science and medicine at Oxford University and became a professor there. He sided with the Protestant Parliament against the Roman Catholic King James II in the Glorious Revolution of 1685. This event reduced the power of the king and made Parliament the major authority in English government.

    In 1690, Locke published his . He generally agreed with Hobbes about the brutality of the state of nature, which required a social contract to assure peace. But he disagreed with Hobbes on two major points.

    First, Locke argued that natural rights such as life, liberty, and property existed in the state of nature and could never be taken away or even voluntarily given up by individuals. These rights were “inalienable” (impossible to surrender). Locke also disagreed with Hobbes about the social contract. For him, it was not just an agreement among the people, but between them and the sovereign (preferably a king).

    According to Locke, the natural rights of individuals limited the power of the king. The king did not hold absolute power, as Hobbes had said, but acted only to enforce and protect the natural rights of the people. If a sovereign violated these rights, the social contract was broken, and the people had the right to revolt and establish a new government. Less than 100 years after Locke wrote his , Thomas Jefferson used his theory in writing the Declaration of Independence.

    Although Locke spoke out for freedom of thought, speech, and religion, he believed property to be the most important natural right. He declared that owners may do whatever they want with their property as long as they do not invade the rights of others. Government, he said, was mainly necessary to promote the “public good,” that is to protect property and encourage commerce and little else. “Govern lightly,” Locke said.

    Source : www.crf-usa.org

    Foundations of American Government [ushistory.org]

    2. Foundations of American Government

    Sea travel expanded the horizons of many European nations and created prosperity and the conditions for the Enlightenment. In turn, the Enlightenment ideals of liberty, equality, and justice helped to create the conditions for the American Revolution and the subsequent Constitution.

    Democracy was not created in a heartbeat. In a world where people were ruled by monarchs from above, the idea of self-government is entirely alien. Democracy takes practice and wisdom from experience.

    The American colonies began developing a democratic tradition during their earliest stages of development. Over 150 years later, the colonists believed their experience was great enough to refuse to recognize the British king. The first decade was rocky. The AMERICAN REVOLUTION and the domestic instability that followed prompted a call for a new type of government with a constitution to guarantee liberty. The constitution drafted in the early days of the independent American republic has endured longer than any in human history.

    Where did this democratic tradition truly begin? The ideas and practices that led to the development of the American democratic republic owe a debt to the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome, the PROTESTANT REFORMATION, and GUTENBERG's PRINTING PRESS. But the Enlightenment of 17th-century Europe had the most immediate impact on the framers of the United States Constitution.

    The Philosophes

    Europeans of the 17th century no longer lived in the "darkness" of the MIDDLE AGES. Ocean voyages had put them in touch with many world civilizations, and trade had created a prosperous middle class. The PROTESTANT REFORMATION encouraged free thinkers to question the practices of the CATHOLIC CHURCH, and the printing press spread the new ideas relatively quickly and easily. The time was ripe for the , scholars who promoted democracy and justice through discussions of individual liberty and equality.

    The ideas of 18th-century philosophes inspired the Founding Fathers to revolt against what they perceived as unfair British taxation. is one of the most famous depictions of the American Revolution.

    One of the first philosophes was THOMAS HOBBES, an Englishman who concluded in his famous book, , that people are incapable of ruling themselves, primarily because humans are naturally self-centered and quarrelsome and need the iron fist of a strong leader. Later philosophes, like VOLTAIRE, Montesquieu, and Rousseau were more optimistic about democracy. Their ideas encouraged the questioning of absolute monarchs, like the Bourbon family that ruled France. Montesquieu suggested a separation of powers into branches of government not unlike the system Americans would later adopt. They found eager students who later became the founders of the American government.

    John Locke

    The single most important influence that shaped the founding of the United States comes from JOHN LOCKE, a 17th century Englishman who redefined the nature of government. Although he agreed with Hobbes regarding the self-interested nature of humans, he was much more optimistic about their ability to use reason to avoid tyranny. In his , Locke identified the basis of a legitimate government. According to Locke, a ruler gains authority through the consent of the governed. The duty of that government is to protect the natural rights of the people, which Locke believed to include LIFE, LIBERTY, AND PROPERTY. If the government should fail to protect these rights, its citizens would have the right to overthrow that government. This idea deeply influenced THOMAS JEFFERSON as he drafted the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.

    Important English Documents

    Ironically, the English political system provided the grist for the revolt of its own American colonies. For many centuries English monarchs had allowed restrictions to be placed on their ultimate power. The MAGNA CARTA, written in 1215, established the kernel of limited government, or the belief that the monarch's rule was not absolute. Although the document only forced KING JOHN to consult nobles before he made arbitrary decisions like passing taxes, the Magna Carta provided the basis for the later development of PARLIAMENT. Over the years, representative government led by a PRIME MINISTER came to control and eventually replace the king as the real source of power in Britain.

    The ideas of the French Enlightenment strongly influenced the American revolutionaries. French intellectuals met in salons like this one to exchange ideas and define their ideals such as liberty, equality, and justice.

    THE PETITION OF RIGHT (1628) extended the rights of "commoners" to have a voice in the government. The ENGLISH BILL OF RIGHTS (1688) guaranteed free elections and rights for citizens accused of crime. Although KING GEORGE III still had some real power in 1776, Britain was already well along on the path of democracy by that time.

    The foundations of American government lie squarely in the 17th and 18th century European Enlightenment. The American founders were well versed in the writings of the philosophes, whose ideas influenced the shaping of the new country. Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, James Madison, and others took the brave steps of creating a government based on the Enlightenment values of liberty, equality, and a new form of justice. More than 200 years later, that government is still intact.

    Source : www.ushistory.org

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