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Jefferson and the Publication of Destutt de Tracy’s Commentary on Montesquieu

From: Jefferson Papers | Retirement Series | Volume 3 | Jefferson and the Publication of Destutt de Tracy’s Commentary on Montesquieu

1Editorial Note (Jefferson Papers)
Using the French manuscript that he received from the author in 1809, Jefferson undertook to see into print an English edition of Destutt de Tracy’s commentary on Montesquieu’s Esprit des Lois . He recruited Philadelphia printer and journalist William Duane for the task with the letter and sample translations printed below. Duane engaged his own translator, even for the portions Jefferson had...
Livre Second: Des Loix qui derivent directement de la Nature du Gouvernement. Esprit des lois Copies liv. 2 e Il ny a que deux especes de Gouvernemens, Ceux qui Sont fondés Sur les droits généraux des hommes, et ceux qui Se pretendent fondés Sur Des droits particuliers. La division ordinaire des gouvernemens en republicains, monarchiques, et despotiques, me parait essentiellement mauvaises...
BOOK II. of laws originating directly from the nature of the government. There are only two kinds of government: those founded on the general rights of man, and those founded on particular rights. spirit of laws. book ii. T he ordinary division of governments into republican, monarchical, and despotic, appears to me essentially erroneous. The word republican is itself a very vague term,...
Extracts from the author’s r R eflections on Montesquieu’s 12. first books. ‘I have divided governments into two classes, to wit, those founded on the general rights of man, and those pretending to be founded on the rights of particular individuals. Montesquieu classes governments from the accidental circumstance of the number of men who are the depositories of the public authority: and he...
Your letter of July 16. has been duly recieved, with the paper it inclosed, for which accept my thanks, and especially for the kind expressio sentiments expressed towards myself. these testimonies of approbation, and friendly remembrance, are the highest gratifications I can recieve from any, and especially from those in whose principles & zeal for the public good I have confidence. of that...
Book II. ‘of laws flowing directly from the nature of the government.’ that there are but two kinds of government, those founded on the general rights of man, & those pretending to be founded on particular rights. The common division of governments into republican, monarchical & despotic, appears to me essentially bad. The word republican is a very vague term, under which is comprehended a...
nous trouvons dés le livre second que les gouvernemens viennent tous Se ranger dans deux classes, Savoir ceux qui Sont fondés Sur les droits généraux des hommes, et ceux qui Se pretendent fondés Sur des droits particuliers . Montesquieu n’a pas adopté cette division. Il classe les gouvernemens d’après la circonstance accidentelle du nombre des hommes qui Sont les depositaires de l’autorité: et...
In the second book, we shall perceive, that all governments may be classed under two heads, namely . . . . those which are founded on the general rights of man . . . . and those which are supposed to be founded on particular rights. Montesquieu has not adopted this distribution; he classes governments according to the accidental circumstances of the number of men invested with authority; and...