The Spirit of Laws (French: 'De l'esprit des lois', is a treatise on political theory first published anonymously by Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu in 1748 with the help of Claudine Guérin de Tencin. Originally published anonymously partly because Montesquieu's works were subject to censorship, its influence outside France was aided by its rapid translation into other languages. Montesquieu's political treatise had an enormous influence on the work of many others, most notably: Catherine the Great, who produced 'Nakaz'; the Founding Fathers of the United States Constitution; and Alexis de Tocqueville, who applied Montesquieu's methods to a study of American society, in 'Democracy in America'.
Montesquieu spent around twenty one years researching and writing 'De l'esprit des lois' (The Spirit of Laws), covering topics such as the law, social life and the study of anthropology, and providing more than 3,000 commendations. In this political treatise Montesquieu pleaded in favour of a constitutional system of government and the separation of powers, the ending of slavery, the preservation of civil liberties and the law, and the idea that political institutions should reflect the social and geographical aspects of each community.
This book is the second volume of the first English edition, dated 1750, bound in contemporary speckled calf, the spine having raised bands and gilt stamped crowns & title etc. All corners are bent and the cover is slightly cracked on each side of the spine. There appears to have been a page (cut out) before the 'list of books sold by P Vaillant' (see photo), but otherwise, apart from the above-mentioned shelf wear, the book is in excellent condition considering its age. A piece of history.