Liberty Matters: Montesquieu on Liberty and Sumptuary Law (Nov. 2015)

The Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755) was one of the most widely read authors before the American Revolution and had a profound impact on the formation of the American Republic. In this discussion of his economic thought, in particular his ideas about the need for sumptuary laws in republics, Henry Clark of Dartmouth College investigates this little appreciated aspect of Montesquieu’s thinking and concludes that, before the theory of natural rights became better estanblished, “Sumptuary law is scarcely more than a blip on our historical radar screens, but it manages to remind us of what a mottled, murky landscape the history of liberty really is”. Henry Clark is joined in the discussion by David Carrithers at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, Paul A. Rahe at Hillsdale College, Michigan, and Stuart D. Warner of Roosevelt University, Chicago.

Henry C. Clark, Liberty Matters: Montesquieu on Liberty and Sumptuary Law (Nov. 2015) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2015).

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