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Number 1.- Articles of confederation,
Number 2.-Mr. Madison to Mr. Ingersoll,
Number 3.-Mr. Madison to Mr. Cabell,
Number 4.-Mr. Madison to Mr. Cabell,
Number 5.-Mr. Madison to Mr. E. Everett,



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The Publisher regrets that the errors of the press have been so numerous
as they appear to be by the following list. He trusts, however, that it will
be a sufficient excuse to the candid reader, that the greater part of the work
was printed from manuscript at such a distance from the author, as to pre-
vent an inspection of the proof-sheets by him. To the same cause, as well
as to imperfections in the manuscript, some slight errors are owing, all of
which may not be noted below. The work having been sent to the publish-
er at different times, and in separate portions, one parcel was accidentally
mislaid, and was not observed to be wanting, until it had been passed by in
the order of printing. It was afterwards inserted in its place, after the 144th
page, the letter (a) being annexed to the number of the pages. No incon-
venience can result from this slight irregularity; but it has the effect of
making the contents of the work appear less than they are in fact, by 44
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nation, nations,

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indeed, induced,

getting, keeping,

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served, succeed,

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relating, relate,



alternately, ultimately, 189

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decreeing, directing,

18 bottom,



representation, perception,



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19 bottom,


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priest, priests, law passed by the senate and house of

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A theory has been adopted by some European philosophers, * and strenuously advocated by their followers, that the first rude state of society, which, among civilized nations, is usually denominated the savage state, is the only natural state of man; that in this state alone he is capable of attaining the acme of perfection in virtue and happiness. They have supposed, that, what are generally called social improvements, serve only to deprave, and either inevitably generate a wicked disposition in man, or at least, invigorate an original propensity to vice, which might otherwise forever lie dormant, in what they so emphatically style the state of nature. They have even gone farther, and maintained, that civil government, so far from proving a remedy for these evils, necessarily becomes the corrupt cause and fruitful source of all the miseries to be found in society.

Others have maintained, that true virtue and pure benevolence in man, would, in every stage of society, supersede the necessity of municipal laws and civil subordination. With a shade of difference from the former, they hold, that wickedness alone has imposed the necessity of civil government. They appear to imagine, that civil polity is not to be derived from principles founded in the social nature of man; but that it is a system of rules contrived to meet his wicked disposition, and to restrain the violence of individuals by the violence of laws. According to them, civil government was not so much designed, by the Author of our nature, to lead men to happiness in society, as to prevent the miseries, which they are ever ready to inflict on each other.-In short, that there is to man, a necessity for civil government, but not an adaptation of his nature to that state.

*Rousseau and others. The Abbé Raynal inclines to the same opinion.This chapter was written in the year 1792.

Some political writers of great eminence* have admitted, that man was originally designed for civil government, and is under a certain necessity of nature to adopt it. At the same time, they have maintained that, on entering into civil society, he, of necessity, gives up a portion of his natural liberty, of his natural rights. By these expressions

By these expressions “natural liberty" and “natural rights” is to be understood, that liberty, and those rights, to which man is entitled as constituted by the Author of his being. This clearly implies that man is but partially fitted for civil society. Compelled, however, to adopt that state, from a necessity which is admitted to arise from a law of his nature, he is supposed to sacrifice a part of his natural rights to secure the remainder, and even to acquire others, to which he was not by the laws of his nature originally entitled.

It is proposed in the following work to inquire, whether man is, by the constitution and laws of his nature, fitted for society; whether his happiness does not require social improvements, and laws, which resulting from his whole nature, lead to the adoption of civil institutions; or whether he is compelled to adopt that state by a single, and that a vicious principle in his nature, in opposition to others. Whether, considered as a moral being, the laws of his nature have indulged to him any liberty which he may not enjoy under civil institutions; and whether government and laws be not, to any secure enjoyment, both of natural and civil rights, in fact, necessary to all subordinate social beings, with whatever virtues they may be endued.

The great end in these inquiries will be, to find the leading principles of government in the laws of social nature, and to trace them into exercise in the establishment of civil

*Locke, Beccaria, Blackstone, and many others.

institutions. In the United States of America, political opinions, though considered as merely theoretical, cannot be wholly inconsequential. In these states, government is professedly founded in the rights of man.-It derives all its efficacy in the prevention of evil, all its energy in the production of happiness, from the sentiments of the people. The opinions, generally entertained, of government, of the necessity of laws, of the end to be attained by them, and the proper mode of attaining that end, will have an influence on the sentiments of the people and the reasonings of the legislator. They will, in a good measure, form the features of the government, and give a tone to all its acts in every department of the administration.


Of the sense in which the term, “principles of government,” is used in the

following work.


From Montesquieu the term “principle” or “ principles,” when applied to government, has been used in a appropriate sense, than in other sciences. In other sciences it is always used to signify something fundamental, some leading rule, law, or maxim. Thus we speak of the principles, on which any thing is constructed, as, a watch. The term principles, here, comprehends not only, the laws of mechanics, but those rules by which the relative proportions of the several parts are determined, to direct the motions to a certain end. These are properly called the principles of construction. There are also rules by which the moving force is applied and made to

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