John Adams: A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America

(1787–1788)

John Adams’s renowned treatise on political philosophy, the three-volume A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, is a sweeping historical survey of republican constitutions from ancient Athens to contemporary European nations, with a detailed analysis of republican government and its philosophic foundations. Adams’s aim was to show that only balanced governments that incorporate checks and balances could ensure the stability and survival of any republic. A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America is the most learned study of comparative republican governments by any American in the eighteenth century, outlining such principles as frequent elections, bicameralism, separation of powers, an executive branch with a strong veto power, and an independent judiciary. It is also the last important work of political science written in the classical republican tradition that had begun with the Italian writer...

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John Adams (Library of Congress)

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