The American Founding and the Social Compact

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Lexington Books, Jan 1, 2003 - Political Science - 283 pages
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Unlike many other books about the American founding, this new work by two of the most prominent scholars of American political history emphasizes the coherence and intelligibility of the social compact theory. Social compact theory, the idea that government must be based on an agreement between those who govern and those who consent to be governed, was one of the Founders' few unifying philosophical positions, and it transcended the partisan politics of that era. Contributors to this volume present a comprehensive overview of the social compact theory, discussing its European philosophical origins, the development of the theory into the basis of the fledgling government, and the attitudes of some of the founders toward the theory and its traditional proponents. The authors argue forcefully and convincingly that the political ideas of the American Founders cannot be properly understood without understanding social compact theory and the exalted place it held in the construction of the American system of government.
  

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Contents

Locke on the Social Compact An Overview
1
Social Compact Common Law and the American Amalgam The Contribution of William Blackstone
37
Hume Historical Inheritance and the Problem of Founding
75
The Political Theory of the Declaration of Independence
95
Thomas Jefferson and the Social Compact
147
From Subjects to Citizens The Social Compact Origins of American Citizenship
163
Alexander Hamilton and the Grand Strategy of the American Social Compact
199
John Adams Hobbism
231
Benjamin Franklin and the Theory of Social Compact
255
Index
277
About the Contributors
281
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

Ronald J. Pestritto is Charles and Lucia Shipley Chair in the American Constitution at Hillsdale College and author of Founding the Criminal Law: Punishment and Political Thought in the Origins of America (2000). Thomas G. West is professor of politics at the University of Dallas and director and senior fellow of the Claremont Institute. His book Vindicating the Founders: Race, Sex, Class and Justice in the Origins of America (1997) won the 2000 Paolucci Book Award.

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