A Commentary and Review of Montesquieu's Spirit of Laws: Prepared for Press from the Original
Reprint of the first edition. This incisive critique was written around 1807 by Tracy [1754-1836], a French philosopher and path-breaking psychologist who was a friend of Jefferson [1743-1826]. Jefferson saw the Commentary when it was still a manuscript and was so impressed that he took pains to have it printed. He even helped with the translation and corrected the page proofs. Although the translation was published anonymously, we can identify the author and translators through a letter by Jefferson dated January 26, 1811. Elsewhere in this letter he commends it for correcting the Spirit of the Laws. While other studies had merely "nibbled only at its errors...This want is now supplied, and with a depth of thought, recision of idea, of language and of logic, which will force conviction into every mind. I declare to you, Sir, in the spirit of truth and sincerity, that I consider it the most precious gift the present age has received.": The Writings of Thomas Jefferson V:566-571.
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Page i - Ignorance of the signification of words, which is want of understanding, disposeth men to take on trust not only the truth they know not, but also the errors, and which is more, the nonsense of them they trust; for neither error nor nonsense can, without a perfect understanding of words, be detected.
Page ii - An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies during the time* therein mentioned," and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints.
Page 12 - Confining myself, then, wholly to the fundamental principles of political society, disregarding the difference of forms, neither censuring nor approving any, i will divide all governments into two classes, one of these I denominate national, in which social rights are common to all; the other special, establishing or recognizing particular or unequal rights.
Page 1 - THE AUTHOR, To HIS FELLOW CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. I am a Frenchman by birth and education. I was an early friend to the revolution of France, and continued to support it, until those entrusted with its helm, had evidently changed its direction. Flying then from the tyrannies of the monster Robespierre, I found, and still enjoy, safety, freedom, and hospitality, among you.
Page 12 - In whatever manner governments may be organized, I shall place in the first class all those which recognize the principle, that all rights and power originate in, reside in. and belong to, the entire body of the people or nation ; and that none exists but what is derived from and exercised...