Marco Barducci

Conquest or liberty? Hugo Grotius in the political thought of the American colonies, 1689-1728

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This article provides a first systematic study of the influence of Hugo Grotius’s ideas on the political thought of colonial North America before the American Revolution, with a special focus on the reception of De Jure Belli ac Pacis (1625). While scholars have generally acknowledged «the indebtedness of the founders to the great British and European legal and political writers», according to Jack P. Greene and Craig B. Yirush (2018) «the rich and extensive political literature produced in and about colonial British America during the century before the American Revolution» has «largely escaped systematic analysis». Focusing on the case studies of John Palmer and Daniel Dulany, this article aims to demonstrate that Grotius significantly contributed to bring modern natural law and international law concepts and doctrines in the American colonies where they were used either against the right of resistance to lawful authorities or to claim the right of the colonists to benefit of the English laws and liberties.


  • conquest
  • liberty
  • obedience
  • revolution
  • natural law


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