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In Two Volumes
David Ramsay's premier work of American historiography is now available for the first time in a well-edited reprint. Lester Cohen's foreword is an invaluable guide.
—Arthur H. Shaffer, University of Missouri
David Ramsay's History of the American Revolution appeared in 1789 during an enthusiastic celebration of nationhood. It is the first American national history written by an American revolutionary and printed in America. Ramsay, a well-known Federalist, was an active participant in many of the events of the period and a member of the Continental Congress from South Carolina.
Ramsay discusses the events and ideas of the American Revolution (from the outbreak of turbulence in the 1760s to the onset of Washington's administration) and makes an ardent Federalist defense of the Constitution of 1787.
Based on the original and authorized 1789 version, this is the first new modern edition of the work.
Lester H. Cohen taught history and American Studies at Purdue University.
“In every society there exists a certain sum of correct ideas. This sum of correct ideas is scattered among the individuals who make up the society and is unequally distributed among them. The problem is to gather up all the scattered and incomplete fragments of this power, to concentrate them, and to constitute them into a government. What is called ‘representation’ is nothing other than the means of arriving at this result. It is not an arithmetic machine intended to collect and enumerate individual wills. It is a natural process for extracting from the bosom of society the public reason that alone has the right to govern.”
—from the book
The French political philosopher and historian François Guizot (1787–1874) was one of the French Doctrinaires, thinkers who sought to avoid the interpretations of the Revolution advanced by either extreme of Left or Right. He argued that in order to understand the nature of political institutions it is necessary to study first the society, its composition, mores, and the relation between various classes. At the very center of his theory lies the principle of the sovereignty of reason.
Aurelian Craiutu, associate professor of political science at Indiana University, writes in the introduction: "A cursory look at the table of contents shows the originality of this unusual book: it combines lengthy narrative chapters full of historical details with theoretical chapters in which Guizot reflects on the principles, goals, and institutions of representative government." The first part of the book covers the period from the fifth to the eleventh century and such topics as the "true" principles of representative government and the origin and consequences of the sovereignty of the people. The second part spans the Norman Conquest to the reign of the Tudors in England and analyzes the architecture of the English Constitutional monarchy.
Guizot's historical method combined philosophy and history by passing from the exposition of facts to the examination of ideas. Readers not familiar with him will profit from an encounter with Guizot, who not only writes in a beautiful French style but also illustrates the French liberal-conservative tradition at its best, much like Constant and Tocqueville.
In Two Volumes
A modern edition of Warren's History is indeed a publishing event. Because Warren was deeply engaged in the political and moral issues of her day, her writing represents a treasure trove, especially for those interested in the political response of women to the republican and liberal ideas animating public debate.
— Joyce Appleby, University of California
Mercy Otis Warren has been described as perhaps the most formidable female intellectual in eighteenth-century America. This work (in the first new edition since 1805) is an exciting and comprehensive study of the events of the American Revolution, from the Stamp Act Crisis of 1765 through the ratification of the Constitution in 1788–1789.
Steeped in the classical, republican tradition, Warren was a strong proponent of the American Revolution. She was also suspicious of the newly emerging commercial republic of the 1780s and hostile to the Constitution from an Anti-Federalist perspective, a position that gave her history some notoriety.
Of Michael Oakeshott and his interest in Thomas Hobbes, Professor Paul Franco has written, “The themes Oakeshott stresses in his interpretation of Hobbes are . . . skepticism about the role of reason in politics, allegiance to the morality of individuality as opposed to any sort of collectivism, and the principle of a noninstrumental, nonpurposive mode of political association, namely, civil association.” Of Hobbes’s Leviathan, Oakeshott has written, “Leviathan is the greatest, perhaps the sole, masterpiece of political philosophy written in the English language.” Hobbes on Civil Association consists of Oakeshott’s four principal essays on Hobbes and on the nature of civil association as civil association pertains to ordered liberty. The essays are “Introduction to Leviathan” (1946); “The Moral Life in the Writings of Thomas Hobbes” (1960); “Dr. Leo Strauss on Hobbes” (1937); and, “Leviathan: A Myth” (1947). The foreword remarks the place of these essays within Oakeshott’s entire corpus.
Michael Oakeshott (1901–1990) was Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics and the author of many essays, among them those collected in Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays and On History and Other Essays, both now published by Liberty Fund.
Paul Franco is a Professor in the Department of Government at Bowdoin College.
A Treatise on Economics
Roscoe Pound, former dean of Harvard Law School, delivered a series of lectures at the University of Calcutta in 1948. In these lectures, he criticized virtually every modern mode of interpreting the law because he believed the administration of justice had lost its grounding and recourse to enduring ideals.
Now published in the U.S. for the first time, Pound’s lectures are collected in Liberty Fund’s The Ideal Element in Law, Pound’s most important contribution to the relationship between law and liberty.
The Ideal Element in Law was a radical book for its time and is just as meaningful today as when Pound’s lectures were first delivered. Pound’s view of the welfare state as a means of expanding government power over the individual speaks to the front-page issues of the new millennium as clearly as it did to America in the mid-twentieth century.
Pound argues that the theme of justice grounded in enduring ideals is critical for America. He views American courts as relying on sociological theories, political ends, or other objectives, and in so doing, divorcing the practice of law from the rule of law and the rule of law from the enduring ideal of law itself.
Roscoe Pound is universally recognized as one of the most important legal minds of the early twentieth century. Considered by many to be the dean of American jurisprudence, Pound was a former Justice of the Supreme Court of Nebraska and served as dean of Harvard Law School from 1916 to 1936.
In Defense of the Constitution refutes modern critics of the Constitution who assail it as "reactionary" or "undemocratic." The author argues that modern disciples of Progressivism are determined to centralize political control in Washington, D.C., to achieve their goal of an egalitarian national society. Furthermore, he contends, Progressive interpreters of the Constitution subtly distort fundamental principles of the Constitution for the precise purpose of achieving their egalitarian goals. It is in their distrust of self-government and representative institutions that Progressivists advocate, albeit indirectly, an elitist regime based on the power of the Supreme Court—or judicial supremacy.
Key elements and issues in this transformation of the original republic into an egalitarian mass society are thoroughly examined.
George W. Carey is Professor of Government at Georgetown University and editor of The Political Science Reviewer.
Christian Thomasius’s natural jurisprudence is essential to understanding the origins of the Enlightenment in Germany, where his importance was comparable to that of John Locke’s in England.
First published in 1688, Thomasius’s Institutionum jurisprudentiae divinae (Institutes of Divine Jurisprudence) attempted to draw a clear distinction between natural and revealed law and to emphasize that human reason was able to know the precepts of natural law without the aid of Scripture. Thomasius also argued that his orthodox Lutheran opponents had failed to understand this distinction and thereby had confused reason and Scripture.
In addition to the Institutes of Divine Jurisprudence, this volume contains significant selections from his Fundamenta juris naturae et gentium (Foundations of the Law of Nature and Nations), published in 1705. In Foundations Thomasius significantly revised the theory he had put forward in the Institutes, and much of the Foundations therefore is a paragraph-by-paragraph commentary on his earlier ideas.
These works are a companion to Thomasius’s Essays on Church, State, and Politics, and together they provide the first-ever English presentation of this preeminent German thinker.
Christian Thomasius (1655–1728) was a German philosopher and legal theorist. He was a cofounder of the University of Halle, where he was also a professor.
Thomas Ahnert is a Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Edinburgh.
Knud Haakonssen is Professor of Intellectual History at the University of Sussex, England.