50 Montesquieu Quotes That Helped Shape the U.S. Constitution
April 27, 2021 7:00 AM EST
These Montesquieu quotes about his political philosophy will show you why he was such an influential source when the founding fathers were writing the U.S. Constitution.
Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu — most commonly known simply as Montesquieu, was a French lawyer, judge, and political philosopher.
He became famous for his work, Parisian Lettres, a satirical novel that commented and critiqued the culture and government of Paris in the 18th century.
Montesquieu’s later work, The Spirit of the Laws, argued for the classification of governments into republics, monarchies, or despotisms, and described the theory of separation of powers.
His political theories were created by combining the governments of ancient Greece and Italy as well as the British constitutional system.
His work would go on to influence the forming of many governments, including the United States of America.
Don’t forget to also check out these John Locke quotes on character, wealth, and more.
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Famous Baron de Montesquieu quotes on his political philosophy
1. “Peace is a natural effect of trade.” — Montesquieu
2. “The love of democracy is that of equality.” — Montesquieu
3. “Despotism is a plan alone, without law and without rule, leads all its will and caprices.” — Montesquieu
4. “The monarchy is the system where a single person governs by fixed and established laws.” — Montesquieu
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5. “The republic is the regime where the people as a body, or only some of the people, the sovereign power.” — Montesquieu
6. “It is not the young people that degenerate; they are not spoiled till those of mature age are already sunk into corruption.” — Montesquieu
7. “Given the need for virtue in a republic and the monarchy of honor, he takes the fear in a despotic government; virtue there is no need and honor it would be dangerous.” — Montesquieu
8. “Political liberty in a citizen is that peace of mind that comes from the opinion each person has of his safety, and to have this liberty, the government must be such that a citizen can not afraid of another.” — Montesquieu
Charles de Montesquieu quotes about the separation of powers
9. “A thing is not just because it is law. But it must be law because it is just.” — Montesquieu
10. “Countries are well cultivated, not as they are fertile, but as they are free.” — Montesquieu
11. “For we can not abuse power, must, by the arrangement of things, power checks power.” — Montesquieu
12. “In any judicial, must compensate the greatness of the power by the brevity of its duration.” — Montesquieu
13. “If in the interior of a state you do not hear the noise of any conflict, you can be sure that freedom is not there.” — Montesquieu
14. “There is as yet no liberty if the power of judging be not separated from legislative power and the executive power.” — Montesquieu
15. “In the infancy of societies, the chiefs of state shape its institutions; later the institutions shape the chiefs of state.” — Montesquieu
16. “The sublimity of administration consists in knowing the proper degree of power that should be exerted on different occasions.” — Montesquieu
17. “The reason why most governments are despotic Earth is that it just happens. But for moderate governments must combine moderate powers; know what gives one what remains to another and finally, we need a system that is to say a convention of many and a discussion of interest.” — Montesquieu
Montesquieu quotes about laws and morality
18. “The merit of any console.” — Montesquieu
19. “An injustice to one is a threat made to all.” — Montesquieu
20. “Laws undertake to punish only overt acts.” — Montesquieu
21. “Useless laws weaken the necessary laws.” — Montesquieu
22. “People have the government they deserve.” — Montesquieu
23. “The severity of the laws prevents their execution.” — Montesquieu
24. “Freedom is the right to do whatever the laws permit.” — Montesquieu
25. “The spirit of moderation should also be the spirit of the lawgiver.” — Montesquieu
26. “The government is like all things in the world to preserve it must be love.” — Montesquieu
27. “It is competition that puts a fair price for goods and establishes the true relations between them.” — Montesquieu
28. “More states have perished because they had violated the morals because they violated the laws.” — Montesquieu
29. “The morals and manners are usages that laws have not established or were unable or unwilling to establish.” — Montesquieu
30. “There is no nation so powerful, as the one that obeys its laws not from principals of fear or reason, but from passion.” — Montesquieu
31. “Slavery is not useful to the master or the slave to him because he can not do anything by virtue in this, because he gradually becomes accustomed to violate all the moral virtues, he became proud swift, hard, angry, voluptuous, and cruel.” — Montesquieu
Montesquieu quotes about success
32. “In most things, success depends on knowing how long it takes to succeed.” — Montesquieu
33. “I have always observed that to succeed in the world a person must seem simple, yet wise.” — Montesquieu
34. “This is how I define talent; it is a gift that God has given us in secret, which we reveal without knowing it.” — Montesquieu
35. “There is no one, says another, whom fortune does not visit once in his life; but when she does not find him ready to receive her, she walks in at the door, and flies out at the window.” — Montesquieu
Montesquieu quotes about education
36. “The less men think, the more they talk.” — Montesquieu
37. “What orators lack in depth they make up for in length.” — Montesquieu
38. “To love to read is to exchange hours of ennui for hours of delight.” — Montesquieu
39. “I have never known any distress that an hour’s reading did not relieve.” — Montesquieu
40. “An author is a fool who, not content with boring those he lives with, insists on boring future generations.” — Montesquieu
Other famous quotes from Montesquieu
41. “Lunch kills half of Paris, supper the other half.” — Montesquieu
42. “Liberty is the right to do what the law permits.” — Montesquieu
43. “If the triangles made a god, they would give him three sides.” — Montesquieu
44. “To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them.” — Montesquieu
45. “A nation may lose its liberties in a day and not miss them in a century.” — Montesquieu
46. “It is always the adventurers who do great things, not the sovereigns of great empires.” — Montesquieu
47. “Friendship is an arrangement by which we undertake to exchange small favors for big ones.” — Montesquieu
48. “There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.” — Montesquieu
49. “False happiness renders men stern and proud, and that happiness is never communicated. True happiness renders them kind and sensible, and that happiness is always shared.” — Montesquieu
50. “If one only wished to be happy, this could be easily accomplished; but we wish to be happier than other people and this is always difficult, for we believe others to be happier than they are.” — Montesquieu
What did you learn from these Montesquieu quotes?
Montesquieu realized that government corruption was not only possible but also probable if the government was not checked with a balance of power.
He came up with the belief that governments should have a system of checks and balances by being broken into three sections: executive, legislative, and judicial.
He became one of the most influential political thinkers of the Enlightenment in the 18th century.
Much of Montesquieu’s philosophy has been applied to the government of the United States of America, as well as to many constitutions of republics around the world.
We hope you enjoyed these Montesquieu quotes and sayings.
Let us know which quote was your favorite in the comment section below.