John Brown (1715–1766) was a clergyman who achieved great but transient fame as a writer and moralist. His attack on Shaftesbury and “moral sense” philosophy, against which he employed utilitarian arguments and also arguments deriving from God’s benevolent intentions toward his creation, was published in 1751 and was later praised by John Stuart Mill.
In 1759, at the height of the Seven Years’ War, when Great Britain was suffering a series of military reversals, Montagu considered his country’s plight in an historical context formed by the study of five ancient republics: Sparta, Athens, Thebes, Carthage, and Rome. Montagu’s focus on the ancient republics gives his contribution a distinctive twist to the chorus of voices lamenting Britain’s decline, and his analysis exerted influence in three momentous eighteenth-century crises: the Seven Years’ War, the American War of Independence, and the French Revolution. This is the first modern edition of Montagu’s work.
Liberty and American Experience in the Eighteenth Century presents ten new essays on central themes of the American Founding period by some of today’s preeminent scholars of American history. The writers explore various aspects of the zeitgeist, among them Burke’s theories on property rights and government, the relations between religious and legal understandings of liberty, the significance of Protestant beliefs on the founding, the economic background to the Founders’ thought on governance, moral sense theory contrasted with natural rights, and divisions of thought on the nature of liberty and how it was to be preserved.