Front Page Titles (by Subject) The Glorious Revolution & Contract - Literature of Liberty, Spring 1982, vol. 5, No. 1
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The Glorious Revolution & Contract - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Spring 1982, vol. 5, No. 1 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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The Glorious Revolution & Contract
“'Abdicate' and ‘Contract’ in the Glorious Revolution.” The Historical Journal (England) 24, 2 (1981): 323–337.
Recent revisionist interpretations of the Glorious Revolution and its political debates (1688–1689) had imposed a Tory, anti-Lockean interpretation on the abdication of James II. Such historians as J.P. Kenyon maintain that John Locke's Second Treatise of Government misled historians into believing that parliament deposed James II for breaking the original “contract” between sovereign and people. Kenyon argues that the Lords and Commons were careful to dissociate themselves from the radical contract theory and Whig “revolution principles.” For does not the crucial word “abdicated” (or the Lords' “deserted”) imply a voluntary, unforced choice on James' part rather than ouster for violation of contract?
Kenyon's anti-contractual interpretation of the meaning of James II's “abdication” fails to appreciate the deliberate ambiguity in the Convention Parliament's use of “abdicate” to simultaneously satisfy both Whigs and Tories. Linguistic study of the meaning of “abdication” in contemporary usage and in the parliamentary debates reveals profound tensions and ambiguities. “Abdication” could be either expressed or implied, the result of forced or voluntary renunciation, and either permanent or subject to the capriciousness of power and war.
To build consensus and satisfy both Whigs and Tories, parliament used deliberately ambiguous and contradictory language concerning the Glorious Revolution's political significance. On the one hand, parliament clearly attempted to bind William and Mary and all future monarchs to specific contractual obligations (the altered coronation oath implies a contract to secure rights and liberties). On the other hand the Bill of Rights of 1689 also connected James II's crimes with his abdication. One could thus interpret the abdication “as either the necessary result of James' actions or a voluntary renunciation.” The essence of the Glorious Revolution was certainly its conciliatory nature. This ambiguity, however, allowed Locke and the Whigs to stress the more radical implications of the Revolution as a forced deposition for breach of contract.