Bessler on the Influence of Beccaria on American Law

Jan 28, 2017 1255

John D. Bessler (University of Baltimore - School of Law) has posted The Italian Enlightenment and the American Revolution: Cesare Beccaria's Forgotten Influence on American Law (Hamline Journal of Public Law and Policy, Vol. 37, No. 1, 2017) on SSRN.

Here is the abstract: The influence of the Italian Enlightenment—the Illuminismo—on the American Revolution has long been neglected. While historians regularly acknowledge the influence of European thinkers such as William Blackstone, John Locke and Montesquieu, Cesare Beccaria’s contributions to the origins and development of American law have largely been forgotten by twenty-first century Americans. In fact, Beccaria’s book, Dei delitti e delle pene (1764), translated into English as On Crimes and Punishments (1767), significantly shaped the views of American revolutionaries and lawmakers. The first four U.S. Presidents—George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison—were inspired by Beccaria’s treatise and, in some cases, read it in the original Italian.

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