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The Original and Institution of Civil Government, Discss'd

By Benjamin Hoadly

Edited by William Gibson

October 2007
LC 2006045350
ISBN-10: 0-404-64851-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-404-64851-0
Cloth $145.00
AMS Studies in the Eighteenth Century, No. 51


Written in 1710 as a response to Tory High Church attempts to revive extreme monarchical theories of government, Benjamin Hoadly’s Original and Institution of Civil Government, Discuss'd advanced ideas of political authority that later made it a founding text for the American republic. A Low Church Whig and Anglican clergyman, Hoadly was committed to the political settlement that followed the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the limited parliamentary monarchy it established in Great Britain; he was also responsible for popularizing John Locke’s theories of government. In the Original and Institution of Civil Government, Hoadly challenged patriarchal political systems and denied that civil authority could be compared with a parent’s authority over children. Instead, Hoadly argued that civil authority arose from the people and was conditionally given to a leader. He also challenged the views of High Churchmen whose teachings required passive obedience to an unjust ruler; Hoadly contended that resistance to such a ruler was both legitimate and consistent with the Bible’s teachings.

Controversial in their own day, Hoadly’s revolutionary ideas were often cited by radical thinkers of his and later generations in both Britain and America. John Adams called Hoadly a “preceptor of liberty,” and historians have seen the inspiration for the American Declaration of Independence in Hoadly’s work. It is also from Hoadly’s writing that many founders of American democracy learned of Locke’s ideas.

This new edition of Hoadly’s book brings it for the first time to a widespread audience. The introduction considers Hoadly’s work in the context of his other publications and his career as an Anglican bishop. It also provides a fresh evaluation of Hoadly’s Original and Institution of Civil Government and the place of that text in the history of Britain and America.

William Gibson is the Director of Lifelong Learning at Westminster Institute of Education, Oxford Brookes University, UK. He has written widely on religion and society between 1600 and 1900 in Britain and is the author of a new biography of Benjamin Hoadly. He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Royal Society of Arts.


Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Hoadly, Benjamin, 1676–1761.
The original and institution of Civil Government, Discss'd / by Benjamin Hoadly ; edited and with an introduction by William Gibson. — New ed.
     p. cm. — (AMS studies in the eighteenth century ; no. 51)
     New edition of Hoadly's book first published in 1710.
     Includes bibliographical references and index.
     ISBN-13 978-0-404-64851-0 (alk. paper)
     1. Political Science.
     2. Hooker, Richard, 1553 or 1554–1600. Ecclesiastical polity.
     3. Atterbury, Francis, 1662–1732. Concio ad clerum londinensem.
     4. Church and state—Great Britain—Early works to 1800.
     I. Gibson, William, 1959–
     II. Title.
     III.Series.
JC176.H8 2007
320.01—dc22                                                       2006045350