Discourses Concerning Government (DOP 1763)


Category: Liberty & Dignity/Politics

By Algernon Sidney

Published in 1763

Reference #0316

First Hollis Edition with frontis portrait. Algernon Sidney’s “Discourses Concerning Government” was published from an original manuscript of the author written between 1680 and 1683. It was not published until 1698, after Sidney was executed in 1683 for his involvement in the Rye House; his papers, including the “Discourses,” were used against him.

Seen here is the 1763 Hollis Edition published in London by A. Millar. It was edited by Thomas Hollis and includes Sydney’s trial apology letters and some memoirs of his life. “Discourses” was written as a response to “Patriarcha” by Robert Filmer, who defended the divine right of the monarchy.

Sidney thought absolute monarchy was a political evil and opposed the Divine Rights of Kings because people were often persecuted and imprisoned under the system. Sidney believed individuals had the right to govern themselves and choose their rulers, as the government power should come from the people. While Sidney lost his life for his beliefs, his words still ring true to the thoughts of liberty. “Discourses” is considered one of the intellectual foundations of the Declaration of Independence.