As the election comes to its pinnacle, tensions mount on either side of the political spectrum. It’s been a heated race for the highest office in the land, with both parties landing very decisive blows against their opponent. There’s no doubt that the race is close and the outcome, regardless of who takes office, will be historic and most certainly monumental.

Regardless of one’s political leanings, we all hope that the next President of the United States will have the country’s best interests at heart and will stay as true as possible to our founding father’s vision of indivisibility, liberty, and justice for all. If they just so happen to be looking for that kind of inspiration, all they need to do is look at the same books the presidents that shaped our country read.

Our country’s first presidents were avid readers and writers. Many of them relied heavily on the influence of Enlightenment thinkers and trailblazers for justice and equality. Besides the Bible, they read works by ancient philosophers and political satirists. If you’re interested to find out what literature helped our presidents as well, read on!

 

1. Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755)

When drafting the Constitution, many of the Founding Fathers, most notably James Madison, used the French philosopher’s idea of separation of powers.  It was through Montesquieu’s influence that we now have the three legislative branches of government. The works that were most influential in shaping the foundations of our government were Persian Letters (1734), Reflections on the Causes of the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire (1734), and The Spirit of the Laws (1748).

Source: The Famous People
Source: The Famous People

2. John Locke (1632-1704)

Born to an English Protestant, wealthy lawyer, and English Civil War veteran, John Locke was educated at Westminster. His studies revolved primarily around logic, metaphysics, and classics, but he studied medicine extensively as well. During his patronage to the Earl of Shaftesbury, the founder of the Whig party, Locke wrote extensively.  His political opinions rejecting the divinity of kings in Two Treatises of Government (1690) laid the groundwork for and is quoted by Thomas Jefferson nearly verbatim in The Declaration of Independence. The idea of separation of church and state is also credited to John Locke.

Source: Biography
Source: Biography

3. Emerich de Vattel (1714-1767)

According to Benjamin Franklin, Emerich’s The Law of Nations was “continually in the hands of the members of our Congress now sitting.” The influential book directly impacted our current laws regarding the draft and selective services. George Washington borrowed the book from the New York Society Library and it wasn’t returned until 221 years later (albeit not the original copy).

Source: Political Irish
Source: Political Irish

4. Voltaire (1694 – 1778)

Voltaire was a French writer, philosopher, and historian. His book, Candide had an authoritative impact on many of our nation’s early government officials.  He was an avid civil rights activist and anti-establishmentarian. Although it earned him scorn from the existing monarchy and ruling Catholic body, he championed for fair trials, separation of church and state, freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Source: Star Singers
Source: Star Singers

5. Tobias Smollett  (1721 – 1771)

Political themes aside, the presidents of yesteryear loved a good book as much as the next person. George Washington enjoyed reading The Expedition of Humphry ClinkerThis comedy was a favorite of Washington’s and chronicles the lives of six British Imperialists with satirical wit.

Source: Wikiwand
Source: Wikiwand

6. Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont (1711 – 1780)

The children’s classic, Beauty and the Beast that is beloved by children everywhere was carried, read and cherished by our second president as a favorite read.  The book was translated from French and made available to English readers in the 1750’s, and the tale has carried on as an American favorite since.

Source: Off News
Source: Off News

7. Laurence Sterne (1713 – 1768)

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman was Thomas Jefferson and his wife Martha’s preference for light reading; they often read the story aloud to each other. Tristam Shandy was written over a decade’s time and includes nine volumes full of risqué humor, hyperbole, sermons, essays, and legal documents.  The plot follows Tristam Shandy as he narrates his life, but in a manner which is so humorously exaggerated that Tristam’s birth isn’t reached until Volume III. 

Source: Wikiwand
Source: Wikiwand

Which of these books would you add to your TBR pile? I’m sure any of them would be…Enlightening.

YouTube Channel: The School of Life

 

Featured image via Wikipedia

h/t Constitution Facts