A Defence of the Constitutions of Government


Category: Philosophy and Politics

By John Adams

Published in 1788

Reference #0020

First Boston Edition. This volume contains the six-page subscriber list that includes John Hancock, Levi Lincoln, and other notable New Englanders. John Adams’ “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” first volume appeared in London, New York, and Philadelphia in 1787 and Boston in 1788. Adams meant for “A Defence” to be a one-volume work; however, he added two more volumes in 1787 and 1788 to address issues raised by critics and to provide more examples.

“A Defence” was written while Adams was the American ambassador at the Court of St. James in the United Kingdom. In the first volume, Adams describes and examines the various forms of Ancient and Modern government as well as their structures. Adams strongly favored the separations of powers believing the two branches of legislature would balance the power of government and the branches would come together in times of crisis. Upon its publication, “A Defence” had a profound effect on the delegates of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and its influence can be seen in the United States Constitution.