Portrait of Algernon Sidney

Algernon Sidney on de facto vs. de jure political power (1698)

Found in: Discourses Concerning Government

The radical English republican Algernon Sidney (1622-1683) distinguishes between states that have illegitimate de facto power and those that have legitimate de jure power:

The State

No man can have a power over a nation otherwise than de jure, or de facto. He who pretends to have a power de jure, must prove that it is originally inherent in him or his predecessor from whom he inherits; or that it was justly acquired by him. The vanity of any pretence to an original right appears sufficiently, I hope, from the proofs already given, that the first fathers of mankind had it not; or if they had, no man could now inherit the same, there being no man able to make good the genealogy that should give him a right to the succession.