Abstract

This essay discusses an important early French response to the American Revolution, chapters 38-52 in Book 18 of Raynal and Diderot's Histoire des deux Indes (1780), and explores how this reponse was shaped by the influence of Montesquieu. In Raynal and Diderot's conception of political freedom, as in Montesquieu's, universalism is tempered by empiricism. Public opinion must never be ignored, local factors matter: the two philosophes praise the American revolutionaries for their wisdom in this respect. Clearly Montesquieuan in inspiration, the American chapters of the Histoire des deux Indes constitute one of the most significant pre-revolutionary examples of moderate liberalism in France.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3222
Print ISSN
0022-5037
Pages
pp. 399-420
Launched on MUSE
2009-07-24
Open Access
No
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