Authors Most Frequently Cited By the Founders of the United States

The following chart enumerates European and Biblical contributions to the founders' political thought. These are the people and sources that the founders quoted most often. The political literature included in this study was literature written by the founders of the United States between 1760 and 1805 (approximately one third of the significant secular literature and about ten percent of the significant sermons).



Source: Donald S. Lutz, "The Relative Importance of European Writers on Late Eighteenth Century American Political Thought,"
American Political Science Review 189 (1984), 189-97.
  Frequency of Citation  
Rank Author Percentage
1 St. Paul (Biblical) 9.00%
2 Montesquieu (Enlightenment) 8.30%
3 Sir William Blackstone (Common Law) 7.90%
4 John Locke (Whig) 2.90%
5 David Hume (Enlightenment) 2.70%
6 Plutarch (Classical) 1.50%
7 Cesar Beccaria (Enlightenment) 1.50%
8 Trenchard & Gordon (Whig)  1.40%
9 De Lolme (Enlightenment) 1.40%
10 Baron Pufendorf (17th Century Protestant Political Theorist) 1.30%
11 Sir Edward Coke (Puritan/Common Law) 1.30%
12 Cicero (Classical) 1.20%
13 Thomas Hobbes (17th Century Political Theorist) 1.00%
14 Robertson (Enlightenment) 0.90%
15 Hugo Grotius (17th Century Protestant Political Theorist) 0.90%
16 Rousseau (Enlightenment) 0.90%
17 Bolingbroke (Whig) 0.90%
18 Francis Bacon (Puritan) 0.80%
19 Price (Whig) 0.80%
20 Shakespeare 0.80%
21 Livy (Classical) 0.80%
22 Alexander Pope (Enlight.) 0.70%
23 John Milton (Puritan) 0.70%
24 Tacitus (Classical) 0.60%
25 Coxe (Whig) 0.60%
26 Plato (Classical) 0.50%
27 Abbe Raynal (Enlightenment) 0.50%
28 Mably (Enlightenment) 0.50%
29 Machiavelli 0.50%
30 Vattel (Enlightenment) 0.50%
31 Petyt 0.50%
32 Voltaire (Enlightenment) 0.50%
33 Robinson 0.50%
34 Algernon Sydney (Whig) 0.50%
35 Somers (Whig) 0.50%
36 Harrington (Whig) 0.50%
37 Rapin (Whig) 0.50%