Of the sovereign, sovereignty; and the
I. THE sovereign in a
state is that person, who has a right of commanding in the last resort.
II. As to the sovereignty we must define it the right of commanding
civil society in the last resort, which right the members of this society have
conferred on one and the same person, with a view to preserve order and
security in the commonwealth, and in general to procure, under his protection
and, through his care, their own real happiness, and especially the sure
exercise of their liberty.
III. I say in the first place, that sovereignty is the right of
commanding civil society in the last resort, to show that the nature of
sovereignty consists chiefly in two things.
The first is the right of commanding the members of the society, that
is, of directing their actions with authority, or with a power of
The second is, that this right ought to be that of commanding in the
last resort in such a manner, that every private person be obliged to submit,
without a power left to any man of resisting. Otherwise, if this authority was
not superior to every other upon earth, it could establish no order or security
in the commonwealth, though these are the ends, for which it was established.
IV. In the second place I say, that it is a right conferred on a person,
and not on a man, to denote that this person may be not only a single man, but
likewise a multitude of men, united in council, and forming only one will, by
means of a plurality of suffrages, as we shall more particularly explain
V. Thirdly I say to one and the same person to show, that sovereignty
can admit of no share or partition, that there is no sovereign at all, when
there are many, because there is no one, who commands then in the last resort,
and none of them being obliged to give way to the other, their competition must
necessarily throw every thing into disorder and confusion.
VI. I add in fine to procure their own happiness, &c. in order to
point out the end of sovereignly, that is the welfare of the people. When
sovereigns once lose sight of this end, when they pervert it to their private
interests, or caprices, sovereignty then degenerates into tyranny, and ceases
to be a legitimate authority. Such is the idea, we ought to form of a sovereign
and of sovereignty.
VII. All the other members of the state are called subjects, that is,
they are under an obligation of obeying the sovereign.
VIII. Now a person becomes a member or subject of a state two ways,
either by an express or by a tacit covenant.
IX. If by an express covenant, the thing admits of no difficulty. But,
with regard to a tacit covenant, we must observe, that the first founders of
states, and all those, who afterwards became members thereof, are supposed to
have stipulated, that their children and descendants should, at their coming
into the world, have the right of enjoying those advantages, which are common
to all the members of the state, provided nevertheless that these descendants,
when they attain to the use of reason, be on their part willing to submit to
the government, and to acknowledge the authority of the sovereign.
X. I said provided the descendants acknowledged the authority of the
sovereign; for the stipulation of the parents cannot, in its own nature, have
the force of subjecting the children against their will to an authority, to
which they would not of themselves choose to submit. Hence the authority of the
sovereign over the children of the members of the state, and the right, on the
other hand, which these children have to the protection of the sovereign, and
to the advantages of the government, are founded on mutual consent.
XI. Now if the children of members of the state, upon attaining to the
years of discretion, are willing to live in the place of their parentage, or in
their native country, they are by this very act supposed to submit themselves
to the power, that governs the state, and consequently they ought to enjoy, as
members of that state, the advantages naturally arising from it. This is the
reason likewise, that, when once the sovereign is acknowledged, he has no
occasion to tender the oath of allegiance to the children, who are afterward
born in his dominions.
XII. Besides, it is a maxim, which has been ever considered, as a
general law of government, that whosoever merely enters upon the territories of
a state, and by a much stronger reason those, who are desirous of enjoying the
advantages, which are to be found there, are supposed to renounce their natural
liberty, and to submit to the established laws and government, so far as the
public and private safety require. And, if they refuse to do this, they may be
considered as enemies, in this sense at least, that the government has a right
to expel them the country; and this is likewise a tacit covenant, by which they
make a temporary submission to the government.
XIII. Subjects are sometimes called cives, or members of the
civil state; some indeed make no distinction between these two terms, but I
think it is better to distinguish them. The appellation of civis ought
to be understood only of those, who share in all the advantages and privileges
of the association, and who are properly members of the state either by birth,
or in some other manner. All the rest are rather inmates, strangers, or
temporary inhabitants, than members. As to women and servants, the title of
member is applicable to them only inasmuch as they enjoy certain rights, in
virtue of their dependance on their domestic governor, who is property a member
of the state; and all this depends on the laws and particular customs of each
XIV. To proceed; members, besides the general relation of being united
in the same civil society, have likewise many other particular relations, which
are reducible to two principal ones.
The first is, when private people compose particular bodies or
The second is, when sovereigns entrust particular persons with some
share of the administration.
XV. Those particular bodies are called Companies, Chambers, Colleges,
Societies, Communities. But it is to be observed, that all these particular
societies are finally subordinate to the sovereign.
XVI. Besides, we may consider some as more ancient than the
establishment of civil states, and others as formed since.
XVII. The latter are likewise either public, such as are established by
the authority of the sovereign, and then they generally enjoy some particular
privileges, agreeably to their parents; or private, such as are formed by
XVIII. In fine, these private bodies are either lawful or unlawful. The
former are those, which, having nothing in their nature contrary to good order,
good manners, or the authority of the sovereign, are supposed to be approved of
by the state, though they have not received any formal sanction. With respect
to unlawful bodies, we mean not only those, whose members unite for the open
commission of any crime, such as gangs of robbers, thieves, pirates, banditti,
but likewise all other kinds of confederacies, which the subjects enter into
without the consent of the sovereign, and contrary to the end of civil society.
These engagements are called cabals, factions, conspiracies.
XIX. Those members, whom the sovereign entrusts with some share of
administration, which they exercise in his name and by his authority, have in
consequence thereof particular relations to the rest of the members, and are
under stronger engagements to the sovereign; these are called ministers, public
officers, or magistrates.
XX. Such are the regents of a kingdom, during a minority, the governors
of provinces and towns, the commanders of armies, the directors of the
treasury, the presidents of courts of justice, ambassadors, or envoys to
foreign powers, &c. As all these persons are entrusted with a share of the
administration, they represent the sovereign, and it is they, who have properly
the name of public ministers.
XXI. Others there are, who assist merely in the execution of public
business, such as counsellors, who only give their opinion, secretaries,
receivers of the public revenue, soldiers, subaltern officers, &c.
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