Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. VI.: The true Origin of the Right of Slavery. - Complete Works, vol. 1 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. VI.: The true Origin of the Right of Slavery. - Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 1 The Spirit of Laws 
The Complete Works of M. de Montesquieu (London: T. Evans, 1777), 4 vols. Vol. 1.
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The true Origin of the Right of Slavery.
IT is time to enquire into the true origin of the right of slavery. It ought to be founded on the nature of things: let us see if there be any cases where it can be derived from thence.
In all despotic governments, people make no difficulty in selling themselves; the political slavery, in some measure, annihilates the civil liberty.
According to Mr. Perry* , the Muscovites sell themselves very readily: their reason for it is evident; their liberty is not worth keeping.
At Achim, every one is for selling himself. Some of the chief lords† have not less than a thousand slaves, all principal merchants, who have a great number of slaves themselves, and these also are not without their slaves. Their masters are their heirs, and put them into trade. In those states, the freemen, being overpowered by the government, have no better resource than that of making themselves slaves to the tyrants in office.
This is the true and rational origin of that mild law of slavery which obtains in some countries: and mild it ought to be, as founded on the free choice a man makes of a master, for his own benefit; which forms a mutual convention betwixt the two parties.
[* ]Present State of Russia.
[† ]Dampier’s voyages, vol. 3.