On January 18, 1689, Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu, French satirist and philosopher, was born. His treatise The Spirit of the Laws was a major influence upon America’s founding generation. He is famous for his articulation of the theory of separation of powers, which is implemented in many constitutions throughout the world. He did more than any other author to secure the place of the word despotism in the political lexicon.
In 1811, former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson translated and published Destutt de Tracy’s Commentary and Review of Montesquieu’s “Spirit of Laws,” a very popular review of republican principles — which helps demonstrate how important this writers’ were to the American form of government.