The Pennsylvania State University
Cover for the book Condorcet


Writings on the United States Edited, translated, and with an introduction by Guillaume Ansart
  • Copyright: 2012
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 160 pages
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-05381-3
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-05382-0
“The volume is a vital, genuinely original contribution to the literature on Condorcet's political thought—and how he applied his general views on republicanism and constitutionalism to the case of the United States—as well as on early European responses to American constitutional development.”
“This excellent book offers easy access to the thinking of an important French philosophe, Condorcet, on the early days of the United States. With this collection, the reader can better understand how the American Revolution was viewed in Europe in the eighteenth century; how Franklin came to represent the perfect universal philosophe while remaining distinctively American; and how critical analyses of the American Constitution could have partly shaped some of the principles in its various French counterparts.”
“The marquis de Condorcet is one of those highly influential political thinkers whose work has too often, over time, been winnowed down to just one work, his famous outline on the progress of the human spirit. In that sense, just calling attention to a body of his other writings is a useful service. Guillaume Ansart has happily brought to light here a number of Condorcet's writings on the implications of the American experience that have heretofore been difficult or impossible to find in English. An informative introduction and extensive notes situate the texts most helpfully in relation to other writings of the period, notably the widely read History of the East and West Indies.
“Scholars and aficianados of the early national period of U.S. history who have been fascinated by the commentaries of Crèvecoeur’s Letters from an American Farmer . . . and de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America should take note of Guillame Ansart’s addition to this significant genre of interpretations of the American Revolution and the subsequent fledgling republic. Condorcet: Writings on the United States adds another significant dimension to the discussion, despite the fact that this ‘last’ of the philosophes never visited the New World. . . . We should all thank Guillaume Ansart for compiling this anthology.”

Condorcet (1743–1794) was the last of the great eighteenth-century French philosophes and one of the most fervent américanistes of his time. A friend of Franklin, Jefferson, and Paine and a member of the American Philosophical Society, he was well informed and enthusiastic about the American Revolution. Condorcet’s writings on the American Revolution, the Federal Constitution, and the new political culture emerging in the United States constitute milestones in the history of French political thought and of French attitudes toward the United States. These remarkable texts, however, have not been available in modern editions or translations. This book presents first or new translations of all of Condorcet’s major writings on the United States, including an essay on the impact of the American Revolution on Europe; a commentary on the Federal Constitution, the first such commentary to be published in the Old World; and his Eulogy of Franklin, in which Condorcet paints a vivid picture of his recently deceased friend as the archetype of the new American man: self-made, practical, talented but modest, tolerant and free of prejudice—the embodiment of reason, common sense, and the liberal values of the Enlightenment.

Guillaume Ansart is Associate Professor of French Literature at Indiana University, Bloomington.


Translator’s Note and Acknowledgments

Introduction: Condorcet and America

Influence of the American Revolution on Europe (1786)


Chapter One: Influence of the American Revolution on the Opinions and Legislation of Europe

Chapter Two: On the Benefits of the American Revolution with Respect to the Preservation of Peace in Europe

Chapter Three: Benefits of the American Revolution with Respect to the Perfectibility of the Human Race

Chapter Four: On the Good That the American Revolution Can Do, Through Trade, to Europe and to France in Particular


Supplement to Filippo Mazzei’s Researches on the United States (1788)

Ideas on Despotism: For the Benefit of Those Who Pronounce This Word Without Understanding It (1789)

Eulogy of Franklin: Read at the Public Session of the Academy of Sciences, November 13, 1790 (1790)

Appendix: Notes to the French Translation of John Stevens’s Observations on Government (1789)



Selected Bibliography in English

Index of Proper Names

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America Through European Eyes

British and French Reflections on the New World from the Eighteenth Century to the Present