Montesquieu. The Spirit of Laws. 1802.
This was the first American edition of the work that brought Montesquieu's reputation to its height as a writer and philosopher who helped lay the foundations of modern political science. During his lifetime (1689-1755) he also became a rhetorician of the first order and an innovator of literary forms. This book attempts to demonstrate principles that have caused the diverse development of laws and custom throughout the world. Some of the book's important insights include a classification of governments based not simply on the location of political power but on the government's manner of conducting policy, and a view of the separation of powers based upon the independence of individuals and bodies occupying legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. The work also attracted criticism and controversy, some related to religious unorthodoxy and some to Montesquieu's views on the relationship of climate to the intellectual outlook of a society. [EB]
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