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Baron de Montesquieu
1689 - 1755

French political philosopher, a.k.a. Charles-Louis de Secondat, author of the influential The Spirit of Laws (1748)


Click here for essays by Baron de Montesquieu
Virtue in a republic is a most simple thing; it is love of the republic; it is a sensation, and not a consequence of acquired knowledge, a sensation that may be felt by the meanest as well as by the highest person in the state. When the common people adopt good maxims, they adhere to them more steadily than those whom we call gentlemen... The love of our country is favorable to a purity of morals, and the latter is again conducive to the former.

1748 - from The Spirit of the Laws
Useless laws weaken the necessary laws.

The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy.

Commerce is the cure for the most destructive prejudices.

The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded.

1748 - from The Spirit of the Laws
Democracy has two excesses to be wary of: the spirit of inequality, which leads it to aristocracy, and the spirit of extreme equality, which leads it to despotism.

1748 - from The Spirit of the Laws