James Harrington

(1611—1677) political theorist

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published his great republican work The Commonwealth of Oceana in 1656 and wrote several tracts in defence of this work, and other political works (The Prerogative of Popular Government, 1657–8; The Art of Law‐Giving, 1659; Aphorisms Political, 1659). In all these he expounds his concept of a republic or commonwealth, advocates the ballot, rotation of officers, indirect elections, etc. In 1659 he founded the Rota, a coffee‐house academy. In 1661 he was arrested and imprisoned on a charge of treason, defended himself ably, and was later released. Harrington has never been considered a great stylist but he had many admirers, including Wordsworth and Coleridge, and his shrewd historical analysis and political projections have increasingly attracted attention.

Subjects: Philosophy — Literature.

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