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Montesquieu Research Papers

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Montesquieu (1689-1755) studied and admired the English Parliament and struck a philosophical blow against the absolute might of the Sun King (Louis XIV, who once said “L’etat c’est moi). montesquieu In The Spirit of Laws, Montesquieu created the idea of a balance of power, one in which executive power would be held by a monarch independent of the legislative.  This idea became framed in the US Constitution.  “The general strength may be in the hands of a single person, or of many…the government most comfortable to nature, is that which best agrees with the humor and disposition of the people in whose favor it is established”.

Montesquieu, in his brilliant and erratic masterpiece The Spirit of the Laws, condemned despotism and urged men to avoid such a form of government.  His ideal for the avoidance of despotism lay in his perception of the English system of government and its separation of powers.  Montesquieu identified three branches of government in England, an executive, legislature and judiciary.

Montesquieu’s belief that injustice could be controlled and even eliminated through good government was fully accepted by the American Framers.  

  • Montesquieu outlined the benefits of constitutionalism and the preservation of civil liberties as well as the abolition of slavery.  
  • Montesquieu focused on developing a sense of internationalism on the foreign front and, domestically, a comprehensive system of social and economic justice with due respect to national and local tradition.  
  • Montesquieu believed in justice and the beauty of law, but despised all forms of extremism and fanaticism.
  • Montesquieu believed that through a proper balance of power and division of authority, the possibility of despotic rule by individuals or groups or majorities could be stemmed.  
  • Montesquieu approved of social equality, but not to the point that it threatened individual liberty.
  • Montesquieu supported individual liberty, but not to the point where it disrupted orderly government.

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