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Writings on the United States

Edited, translated, and with an introduction by Guillaume Ansart

Publication Year: 2012

Condorcet (1743–1794) was the last of the great eighteenth-century French philosophes and one of the most fervent américanistes of his time. A friend of Franklin, Jefferson, and Paine and a member of the American Philosophical Society, he was well informed and enthusiastic about the American Revolution. Condorcet’s writings on the American Revolution, the Federal Constitution, and the new political culture emerging in the United States constitute milestones in the history of French political thought and of French attitudes toward the United States. These remarkable texts, however, have not been available in modern editions or translations. This book presents first or new translations of all of Condorcet’s major writings on the United States, including an essay on the impact of the American Revolution on Europe; a commentary on the Federal Constitution, the first such commentary to be published in the Old World; and his Eulogy of Franklin, in which Condorcet paints a vivid picture of his recently deceased friend as the archetype of the new American man: self-made, practical, talented but modest, tolerant and free of prejudice—the embodiment of reason, common sense, and the liberal values of the Enlightenment.

Published by: Penn State University Press


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Table of Contents

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Translator’s Note and Acknowledgments

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The present translations are based on my own French edition of the same texts (Paris: Classiques Garnier, forthcoming). Proper names have been modernized to . . .

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Introduction: Condorcet and America

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pp. 1-20

Condorcet (1743–94), the last of the great fi gures of the French Enlightenment, was a fervent américaniste, one of the most prominent among the many French . . .

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Influence of the American Revolution on Europe (1786)

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pp. 21-42

The path of truth, said the poet Saadi,2 is narrow and lies between two precipices. At the slightest misstep, one tumbles to the bottom. One picks oneself up, dazed by . .

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Supplement to Filippo Mazzei’s Researches on the United States (1788)

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pp. 43-62

Recent news from the United States requires a supplement.1 It is hoped that this addition will not displease those eager to be informed of the affairs of this . . .

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Ideas on Despotism: For the Benefit of Those Who Pronounce This Word Without Understanding It (1789)

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pp. 63-78

Despotism by one man alone is a fi ction of the mind; but despotism by a small number over a large number is very common and has two causes: the ease with . . .

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Eulogy of Franklin: Read at the Public Session of the Academy of Sciences, November 13, 1790 (1790)

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pp. 79-107

Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston on January 6, 1706, the son of Josiah Franklin and Abiah Folger.1
His father had settled in Boston around 1682; attached to the Presbyterian religion by . . .

Appendix: Notes to the French Translation of John Stevens’s Observations on Government (1789)

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pp. 109-118


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pp. 119-124


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pp. 125-139

Selected Bibliography in English

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pp. 141-144

Index of Proper Names

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pp. 145-147


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p. 157-157

E-ISBN-13: 9780271053899
E-ISBN-10: 0271053895
Print-ISBN-13: 9780271053813
Print-ISBN-10: 027105381X

Page Count: 160
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1775-1783 -- Early works to 1800.
  • United States -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783 -- Influence -- Early works to 1800.
  • Constitutional history -- United States -- Early works to 1800.
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