Dbq documents – Modern State

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Document 6

From: Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws, 1748

Although the forms of state­­---monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy---were united in English government, the powers of government were separated from one another. There can be no liberty where the executive, legislative, and judicial powers are united in one person or body of persons, because such concentration is bound to result in arbitrary despotism.


Document 7

From: Voltaire*, mid-1700’s

…I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it….The best government seems to be that in which all ranks of men are equally protected by the laws…..


Document 8

From: Frederick (the Great) of Prussia, Essay on Forms of Government, 1777

The sovereign is the representative of his State. He and his people form a single body. Ruler and ruled can be happy only if they are firmly united. The sovereign stands to his people in the same relation in which the head stands to the body. He must use his eyes and his brain for the whole community, and act on its behalf to the common advantage. If we wish to elevate monarchical above republican government, the duty of sovereigns is clear, they must be active, hardworking, upright and honest and concentrate all their strength upon filling their office worthily, that is my idea of the duties of sovereigns.


Document 9

From: Catherine the Great, Proposals for a New Law Code, 1767

What is the true End of Monarchy? Not to deprive People of their natural Liberty; but to correct their Actions, in order to attain the supreme Good... The Intention and the End of Monarchy, is the Glory of the Citizens, of the State, and of the Sovereign... The Laws ought to be so framed, as to secure the Safety of every Citizen as much as possible. The Equality of the Citizens consists in this; that they should all be subject to the same Laws...


Document 10

From: Joseph II of Austria, The Ideal, 1781

... I granted toleration, and removed the yoke which has oppressed the protestants for centuries. 

Fanaticism shall in future be known in my states only by the contempt I have for it; nobody shall any longer be exposed to hardships on account of his creed; no man shall be compelled in future to profess the religion of the state if it be contrary to his persuasion...

Tolerance is an effect of that beneficent increase of knowledge which now enlightens Europe and which is owing to philosophy and the efforts of great men; it is a convincing proof of the improvement of the human mind....


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