The french revolution has not received more attention than it deserves;
but in comparison disproportionately little attention has been given to the
English Civil Wars of the seventeenth century. In a more modest way, these too
helped fix the shape of the modern world. Specifically, most of the devices and
ideas which have found expression in subsequent constitutions date from the
experiments and theories of that day.
The present study undertakes to describe the introduction into political
science of these devices, the most familiar of which are the separation of
powers, bicameralism, the written constitution, and judicial review. No attempt
is made to carry on the story in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century America,
but connective tissue is supplied to form a juncture with the work of Haines,
Corwin, and Wright, who have already dealt with the American materials more
competently than the present writer could hope to do. Nor has any effort been
made to trace the undeniable connection between English constitutionalism of
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and the constitutional documents of
continental Europe in the late eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth
The author acknowledges with pleasure the assistance of numerous
friends: among others, his colleague, Otto Brendel, who read and criticized the
classical and medieval sections, and another colleague, the late William T.
Morgan, who supplied valuable advice on eighteenth-century materials; Frederick
G. Marcham and the late Carl L. Becker of Cornell University; Wallace Notestein
and George L. Lam of Yale University. The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial
Foundation made it possible to undertake the study.