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Department of Politics

325. Anglo-American Constitutional Thought

November 2015

Dr. Robert W. Sutherland, Instructor


NOTE: Reading assignments are subject to change, so the online syllabus is the only definitive version. Check this site regularly, at least once every other day. Changes in reading assignments will not be made within 24 hours immediately preceding class meetings.

INSTRUCTOR: Robert Sutherland, 308 South, Ext. 4226. My email address,, is the quickest and most reliable method of contacting me. Office hours follow the end of class each day.

CLASS MEETINGS & TEXTS: We meet daily 9:30-11 am, except for the 1st day and the exam days. The time that a particular class ends may vary. The total of 50 hours of class time includes group meetings and exam reviews set outside of the times posted above. See the schedule below for more details. The Bookstore will be stocking a single book, Richard Hooker's Laws (05213790831) . The rest of the reading assignments can be found on line.


  1. PAPER--30%, topic to be arranged individually.
  2. EXAMS--15% midterm; 30% final.

CLASS PARTICIPATION POLICY: Small, advanced classes depend for success on student class participation, which not only requires attendence but also careful preparation for each class meeting. As much as 10% of the Participation/Assignment grade will be determined by the notes I keep on student daily participation. If a class must be missed, both the missing student and the class suffers. However, students who notify me by email BEFORE the class that they will be forced to miss will be allowed ONCE to use the average of their participation scores in the course. Otherwise, a zero will be the result of a missed class. No make-up opportunities exist in this course. Documented health absences will be considered on a case by case basis.

  • EDUCATIONAL PRIORITIES: This course supports the Educational Priorities and Outcomes of Cornell College with emphasis on knowledge, communication, and citizenship.
  • ACADEMIC HONESTY: Cornell College expects all members of the Cornell community to act with academic integrity. An important aspect of academic integrity is respecting the work of others. A student is expected to explicitly acknowledge ideas, claims, observations, or data of others, unless generally known. When a piece of work is submitted for credit, a student is asserting that the submission is her or his work unless there is a citation of a specific source. If there is no appropriate acknowledgement of sources, whether intended or not, this may constitute a violation of the College's requirement for honesty in academic work and may be treated as a case of academic dishonesty. The procedures regarding how the College deals with cases of academic dishonesty appear in The Compass, our student handbook, under the heading "Academic Policies--Honesty in Academic Work."
  • ACCOMODATING RELIGIOUS PRACTICES: Every effort will be made to avoid conflicts between the demands of this class and the religious practices of students within it. The key to success in doing so requires alerting the instructor in the first three days of class, if a student has even the slightest reason to believe that such a conflict may arise.
  • DISABILITIES POLICY: Students who need accommodations for learning disabilities must provide documentation from a professional qualified to diagnose learning disabilities. For more information, see: Students requesting services may schedule a meeting with the disabilities services coordinator as early as possible to discuss the needs and develop an individualized accommodation plan. Ideally, this meeting would take place well before the start of classes. At the beginning of each course, the student must notify the instructor within the first three days of the term of any accommodations needed for the duration of the course.
  • Portions of the Catalog on adding and dropping courses are incorporated here by reference. Those students who are considering an Incomplete or Withdrawal for reasons of Health are urged to consult the Counseling Center well before the date at which they decide on such a course of action..
  • GRADING SCALE for the course is A = 1750-2000, A- = 1650-1749, B+ = 1550-1649, B = 1450-1549, B- = 1350-1449, C+ = 1250-1349, C = 1150-1249, C- = 1050-1149, D+ = 950-1049, D = 850-949, D- = 750-849, F = 000-749. The number of points possible on any given exam or paper can be calculated by multiplying 20 points (A++) by the value (a percentage) of the exam or paper in determining the final grade. For letter grade equivalents, multiply the percentage times: 18 = A, 17 = A-, 16 = B+, 15 = B, 14 = B-, 13 = C+, 12 = C, 11 = C-, 10 = D+, 9 = D, 8 = D-. Both the final exam and the final paper remain with me for future reference in revising and improving the course. They can be picked up at my office immediately after Politics 325 is offered again. Portions of the Catalogue on adding and dropping courses and portions of the Compass on dishonesty in academic work are incorporated here by reference. A discount of 5% per hour will be applied to the grades of late papers, except for documented emergencies.


I. Introduction: Limited vs. Unlimited Government and the Rule of Law

II. Week I: Hobbes and the Logic of Unlimited Government

  1. in educational and moral terms
  2. in constitutional terms

III. Week I-II: Hooker and the Logic of Limited Government

  1. in educational and moral terms
  2. in constitutional terms

IV. Week II-IV: Locke and Anglo-American Constitutional Thought

  1. Locke
  2. Franklin
  3. American political writings

ASSIGNMENTS--To be done before class on the day indicated:

Week I**Day 1: By 8am Monday, send to me by email (see address above) a 300 word essay on why those beginning the study of Anglo-American Constitutional Thought are well served by reading closely and thinking hard about Vice President Gerald Ford's, Remarks on taking the Oath of Office of President. The more you invest in this assignment the better your performance is likely to be for the initial essay of the Final Examination in this course.

Day 2--: Leviathan, Chs, 3, 4: from "Origins" to "Abuses of Speech", 5, 6 on "The Will" & "Felicity", 11, 13-15, 16-19, & 21

Day 3: Leviathan, Chs. 26-30; Nagel Reading

Day 4: Richard Hooker, The Laws . . . of Polity, pp. 52-62

Day 5: Laws of . . . Polity, pp. 64-74

Week II**Day 6: Laws of . . . Polity, pp. 64-74

Day 7: Laws of . . . Polity, pp. 74-95

Day 8: Laws of . . . Polity, pp. 95-110

Day 9: Locke, Two Treatises: The First Treatise , Preface & Secs. 1-51; 2nd Treatise, Secs. 1-51

Day 10: Two Treatises: The Second Treatise Secs. 77-168

Week III**Day 11--8:30: MIDTERM EXAM

Week III**Day 12: Two Treatises, Secs. 175-243.; American Political Writings, pp. 3-18 (Williams, Election Sermon), 62-66 (Aequus), 109-136 (Shute, Election Sermon), 231-9 (Continential Congress, Appeal to the Inhabitants of Quebec)

Week III****Day 13--APW, pp. 137-157 (Perkins, Well-Wisher to Mankind), 340-367 (Demophilus), 638-655 (Amicus Republicae, Address to the Public)

Week III***Day 14--American Political Writings, pp. 699-704 (Worcester Speculator), 884-899 (Dwight, Oration); Federalist #10 GROUP 1

Week III***Day 15--
APW, pp. 936-949 (Kent, Introductory Lecture on a Course of Law), 1042-54 (Maxcy, An Oration), Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography, Parts 1 & 2 GROUP 2 DRAFTS OF RESEACH PAPER DUE BY 5 PM.

Week IV***Day 16--APW, pp. 1299-1348 (Ames, Dangers of Am. Liberty), Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography, 3-4 GROUP 3

Week IV***Day 17--8:30: FINAL EXAM

Week IV***Day 18:Noon: Final Paper Due. Hardcopy Only!!


INSTRUCTIONS: American Political Writings of the Founding Era is a rich resouce for understanding the transition from English to American constitutional thought, but unfortunately we can read only a small fraction of the writing collected by Hynemann & Lutz. Groups will be responsible in the 3rd and 4th weeks for ranging beyond the assignments for which the whole class is responsible. Groups are limited to roughly 25 pages per day in additional reading assignments and each group is responsible for leading discussion on what it assigns. As much as half of the class in these weeks will be reserved for group use in discussion of these supplemental writings. Grades on oral work are determined by performance in content and style. Strength in content depends on a clear presentation of main ideas, careful subordination of explanation and examples, and close attention to logical transition. Elements of style include skill in referring to notes (do not read a prepared text), in managing the time available (consult the instructor), in oral expression (watch rate of speed in speaking), in eye contact, and in variety of emphasis. The content and scheduling of presentations depends heavily on student initiative.

PAPERS: Topics and Evaluation

Topics: A few suggestions which should not discourage students from proposing their own


  • English Civil War, Coke, and Constitutional Development
  • The Glorious Revolution and Constitutional Development
  • Montesquieu and his impact on the American Constitution
  • Hume, Rationalism, and the Conservatism of Michael Oakeshott
  • Burke and American Constitutional Development
  • Rousseau and American Constitutional Development


  • Constitutionalism and the International Criminal Court
  • The Post-Communist Russian Constitution, esp. the role of the Russian President
  • Constitutional thought and development in selected Latin American, African, and eastern European countries
  • Islam and Constitutional Thought
  • Constitutional development and Political Corruption
  • Constitutional Development for the EU


  • Property Rights and Eminent Domain
  • Federalism and its Revival
  • Right to Privacy and Anglo-American Constitutional Thought
  • A 21st Century Constitutional Convention
  • Presidential Descretion and the Rule of Law
  • Gun Control and the Constitutional
  • President Obama and the Framers Presidency


An "A" paper has the following elements:

  1. Good, clear, complete discussion of major parts of the topic
  2. A penetrating thesis statement connecting the parts to each other,
  3. Accurate, skillful use of argument and evidence in supporting the thesis,
  4. A strong conclusion anchored in a tightly drawn organization of thesis, argument, and evidence, plus
  5. No more than one error per page of the sort outlined in English Simplified.
A "B" paper has the following:
  1. Adequate on the parts, using familiar phrases from the class discussion & the readings,
  2. Clear thesis but more weakly stated than in an "A" paper,
  3. Argument and evidence systematically offered but not finely gauged to the difficulty or complexity of the issue; transitions become increasingly tentative,
  4. Broad, general conclusion based on adequate organization with no more than two errors per page

A "C" paper has:

  1. Incomplete discussion with weak thesis followed by loosely related arguments or evidence to which objections are obvious, missing transitions,
  2. Brief conclusion, sketchy organization, no more than three errors per page

A "D" paper:

Garbled, inaccurate discussion, no thesis, little evidence or argument, abuse of quotations, assertion in place of conclusion, gaps in organization, a multitude of errors.

An "F" paper:

See the Compass on plagiarism


Chaps. 3-4: Mental vs. verbal discourse, the kinds (even sub-kinds) of each, the uses, even the special uses (and abuses) of the latter; true & false speech, importance of geometry
5-6: Right reason, its use; error & absurdity, causes of the latter; science vs. prudence, the signs of science.
11: Felicity, as conceived by "old moral philosophers" vs. Hobbes's conception; contention, its sources; vs. obedience, its sources; associations of love and hate, of praise and ambition; confidence in others, its sources, & custom, its sources
13: Human equality and the "causes of quarrel" or war.
14-15: Nineteen laws of Nature, the "science of these laws," & moral philosophy.
17: Security, what it means and where it is and is not to be found, a commonwealth, the Leviathan 18: Instituting a commonwealth and the consequences which follow from it
19: Kinds of institution: monarchy, aristocracy, & democracy, how related to tyranny, oligarchy, & anarchy; the advantages of a monarchy over assemblies large or small
21: Liberty, necessity, covenants and laws, sovereign power and the liberties of subjects
26: Law written, how related to the sovereign, to custom & usage, to laws of nature and unwritten laws; interpretation, its purpose, its agency (i.e. who does it and within what limits, the role of precedent, etc.), natural vs. positive law; divine positive law
27: Sin vs. crime; crime, its source, its cause, esp. false principles and how they are promoted by varied agencies and why; fear as a cause; comparison of crimes plus circumstances extenuating and aggravating;
28: Punishment, what it is and is not; kinds of punishment; reward
29: Dissolution of the commonwealth, by want of absolute power in private judgments, whether by erroneous conscience or pretense of inspiration; in dividing sovereign power and its consequences, esp. related to mixed government, public funds, and rivals for sovereign power in people and places 30: Sovereign representative, purpose and duties, esp. in teaching; two objections to teaching & responses to yeach; what is to be taught, role of the universities; in taxation and public welfare, in legislation, esp. what a good law is.

S T U D Y G U I D E for LAWS, Book I . Chapters 1 - 10

1: What is the purpose of the work and out of what dispute does it come?

2:How is law defined and why is it so little discussed in its highest form? What makes it possible for us to discuss it at all?

3a: What is eternal law as the "learned" understand it? 3b: What do "we" mean by "enlarging" the sense of law? 3c: Distinguish between the two laws eternal and how a hierarchy of "natural agents" relate the two. 3d: Distinguish between involuntary and voluntary agents and what law means for each. 3e: How is the orderliness of nature described and distinguish according to whether individual or social?

4a: What distinguishes angels and how are they related to the "children of men?" 4b: What actions are associated with the qualities of angels and how does angelic law follow from them?

5a: What is "goodness," how is it related to potentiality, action, and actuality? 5b: What are the degrees of goodness, especially as it relates to human beings?

6a. What purposes inform Chapter Six? For Hooker's retrospective account of an important purpose, see the first relative clause in the first sentence of Chapter Ten.
6b. What hierarchy exists in nature and what is the place of humankind in it?
6c. What is the purpose of the art of learning and how is it accomplished? What role is assigned to common sense?
6d. What does Hooker think of his own age? Key terms: natural reason (also natural knowledge & natural discourse, natural wit, natural understanding); sensible knowledge

7a. What purposes inform Chapter 7? See the relative clauses following the one cited above.
7b. How is reason stirred into action?
7c. What is the relationship between choice and will and what position in nature is reflected in them?
7d. What are the "two principal fountains of human action" and how are they related to appetite and affections.
7e. What is "right reason" and what two considerations demonstrate its operation?
7f. What two circumstances account for the "choice of evil"? Be specific about what Hooker means by the "prejudice of sensible experience."
7g. Connect the "painfulness of knowledge" to its benefits, its promise, and its poverty. Key terms: things unsensible, choice, will, appetite, affections, voluntary operations, right reason

8a. What part of Ch. 7 forms the basis for 8 and how is 8 related to the purpose to be fulfilled in 6 & 7?
8b. What two ways are there of discerning goodness and which is the one Hooker follows?
8c. What token is discussed here and how is it related to the cause of goodness?
8d. What is law and how does it apply to the hierarchy of nature?
8e. What are the two self-evident principles of reason?
8f. What levels of knowledge are active in the "law of nature" (see also "law of reason or human nature")?
8g What is the "law of nature" and how is it related to the rule of comparison and the hierarchy of nat.ure?
8h. What are the two "grand mandates" imposed by the law of nature?
8i. What three kind of "sentences" does reason offer?
8j. What three "marks" distinguish the law of nature?
8k. What effect does custom have upon the law of nature?

9a. What distinctions apply to reward and benefit and to hurt and punishment.
9b. What does keeping mean or what exceptions apply to the above distinctions?

10a. What are the two foundations of public societies?
10b. How are laws politic perfected?
10c. When are people happy?
10d. What impediments obstruct the pursuit of happiness?
10e. What is the purpose of government?
10f. What is essential to it? What is inessential?
10g. Distinguish between rule of a person and the rule of law. What three advantages support the latter?
10h. Why do the laws vary?
10i. What distinguishes human law or mixed law from "merely human law"? What other term corresponds to the latter?
10j. What is the law of nations?
10k. What distinguishes primary from secondary laws?


Assignment #1 : Filmer's"short Model" or "System of Politics;" the "old way" Governments are made; examples of Filmer's carelessness in supporting his "System," esp. his dependence upon "Fatherhood" and "Fatherly Authority;" logical errors in Filmer's work, organization of Locke's reply to Filmer in the First Treaties.

#2: How the two treatises are linked, the main issue defined by Locke as the subject of the second; political power. State of nature and its relationship to Hooker's Laws; natural equality and authority conferred by the law of nature in responding to transgression; "inconveniences" in the state of nature and the origins of civil government; purpose served by the closing quotation from the Laws. State of war; the purpose of freedom; the difference between the state of war and the state of nature plus the relationship of each to civil government. How slavery is related to the previous terms. Origins of property and an objection to Locke's account, the advantages of Locke's account in recognizing and rewarding those who work hard; the problem of common land, of measuring and transfering wealth and value, the invention and use of money.

303-318: Paternal power and the mistake associated with such a term; freedom, equality, and law; the power parents have over their children in the light of these terms; in what senses the authority of parents constitutes a kind of government; the duties of children and of parents; what conclusion can be drawn and applied to Filmer's argument, previously discussed.

318-349: How a "Politick Society" differs from a "conjugal" one, origins of the former considered as a prelude to discussing the danger of absolute power. How "Political Societies" begin. Two objections to the account given and replies to each. "Express Consent" distinguished from "tacit Consent"-- the implications and limitations of tacit consent.

350-380: Preservation of property as the "great and chief end" of political society. What property means and the ways in which it is preserved by government. The original "right and rise" of "Legislative and Executive Power." What a commonwealth is, however formed. What the legislative power is and the four limitations by which it is circumscribed. Separation of legislative and executive power. Executive power related to federative power. Legislative supremacy and executive power, detailing joint operations. Prerogative defined and limited.

380-428: Key terms reviewed preliminary to a discussion of conquest, usurpation, tyranny, and the dissolution of government. Conquest considered in the light of understanding how important consent is in a political society. Power of the conqueror over those that conquered with him. Power of the conqueror(s) over the subdued, their property, and their relations. Tyranny and usurpation distinguished. The right of revolt against tyranny asserted and circumscribed according to whether a person rules or the law does, whether there is a right of appeal, and whether coordinated resistance is easy or difficult. How governments are dissolved, with specific reference to the dissolution of parliamentary governments. "Trust," why it is key to understanding the issue, despite objections from those who fear instability and those who fear rebellion. Specific replies to the latter. Right of resistance confirmed by reference to other authorities.


FACTION: its causes, definition, & consequences. Its cure by removing causes & by controlling effects, in a minority, in a majority. Majority factions: how prevented, how rendered ineffective. Republic: why superior to a democracy: representation--its advantages enhanced by federalism and the separation of powers & size of republics--effects on forming a majority.


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