Charles de Secondat,
Baron de la Brède et de Montesquieu

Baron de la Brède et de Montesquieu

Ideological Co-Founder of the American Constitution
along with John Locke

short biography of the Baron de Montesquieu

It is partly due to the brilliance of Montesquieu that the United States of America has descended into serious civil bloodshed only one time in over 200 years.

"Montesquieu advocated constitutionalism, the preservation of civil liberties, the abolition of slavery, gradualism, moderation, peace, internationalism, social and economic justice with due respect to national and local tradition. He believed in justice and the rule of law; detested all forms of extremism and fanaticism; put his faith in the balance of power and the division of authority as a weapon against despotic rule by individuals or groups or majorities; and approved of social equality, but not the point which it threatened individual liberty; and out of liberty, but not to the point where it threatened to disrupt orderly government."

Sir Isaiah Berlin
Against the Current

Montesquieu loved knowledge, science, law, toleration.
Montesquieu hated armies, conquests, tyrants, priests.


      "In republican governments, men are all equal; equal they are also in despotic governments: in the former, because they are everything; in the latter, because they are nothing."
The Spirit of Laws
Bk. VI, Ch. 2

      "Luxury is therefore absolutely necessary in monarchies; as it is also in despotic states, In the former, it is the use of liberty, in the latter, it is the abuse of servitude...
      "Hence arrives a very natural reflection. Republics end with luxury; monarchies with poverty."

The Spirit of Laws
Bk. VII, Ch. 4

      "As distant as heaven is from the earth, so is the true spirit of equality from that of extreme equality...
      "In a true state of nature, indeed, all men are born equal, but they cannot continue in this equality. Society makes them lose it, and they recover it only by the protection of laws."

The Spirit of Laws
Bk. VIII, Ch. 3

Back to Thoughts Worth Thinking Page