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A STUDY OF A 17TH CENTURY UTOPIA
AND ITS INFLUENCE IN AMERICA
H. F. RUSSELL SMITH, M.A.
Fellow and Lecturer in History at St John's Colleg“, Cambridge
Reigns of Charles II. and James 11.
My attention was drawn to the ideas of Harrington when I was studying the history of toleration in the Stuart period. It appeared to me that his influence in England and in her colonies, both at his own time and since, deserved a fuller examination than it had yet received. My tenure of the Allen Scholarship in 1911 enabled me to make some researches both in England and America, which I have brought together in the following essay. I have attempted in the first place to give some account of Harrington's political ideas, describing their origin, their history, and their subsequent influence on two centuries of English political thought; in the second place, to trace a connection, which has often been surmised but never established, between Oceana and the political institutions of America ; and finally to discuss the revival of Harrington's chief theories in the constitutions of revolutionary France. In this way I hope incidentally to have given a new illustration of the connection between political theory and practice, and to have shown afresh the essential unity of the three great revolutions of modern Europe.
The authorities for a study like this are necessarily various, but they are for the most part readily accessible. The history of Harrington's public life is drawn largely from the Thomason Pamphlets in the British Museum. The contention that Grote's advocacy of the ballot was due to his study of Harrington rests on Grote's unpublished essay on Oceana,