First American edition Sidney, Algernon. Discourses on Government. To which is Added, An Account of the Author's Life, and a Copious Index. Originally published: New York: Richard Lee, 1805. 3 Volumes. 454; 478; 460 pp. Reprinted 2012 by The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. ISBN-13: 9781616192969. ISBN-10: 1616192968. Paperback. New. $95. * First American edition (first published in England 1698). This important work appeared fifteen years after Sidney's execution for treason in 1683. A reply to Filmer's Patriarcha, the Discourses is one of the earliest modern statements of republican ideals. He proposes a doctrine of natural justice and governmental order from which all institutions vary at their peril. More important, Sidney asserts that a king's authority is granted by parliament, which has the additional power to depose him, indeed a controversial idea during the Restoration period. Thomas Jefferson, one of several individuals influenced by this text, described it as "...probably the best elementary book of the principles of government, as founded in natural right which has ever been published in any language; and it is much to be desired in such a government as ours that it should be put into the hands of our youth as soon as their minds are sufficiently matured for that branch of study." (Sowerby). Sidney [1622-1683] was beheaded by Charles II in part for his involvement in the Rye House plot. One of the other charges against him was that he had committed treasonable libel in this work, which was still in manuscript at that time. Sowerby, Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, III: 12. Marke, A Catalogue of the Law Collection at New York University (1953) 953. Catalogue of the Library of the Harvard Law School (1909) II: 588. Sweet and Maxwell, A Legal Bibliography of the British Commonwealth of Nations I: 107. Wing, Short Title Catalogue of English Books 1641-1700 S3761.
Book number 59822