Title page from Cato’s Letters, 4 vols. in 2 (LF ed.)

Cato’s Letters, 4 vols. in 2 (LF ed.)

Thomas Gordon was the joint author with John Trenchard of these 4 volumes. Almost a generation before Washington, Henry, and Jefferson were even born, two Englishmen, concealing their identities with the honored ancient name of Cato, wrote newspaper articles condemning tyranny and advancing principles of liberty that immensely influenced American colonists. The Englishmen were John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon.

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Their prototype was Cato the Younger (95-46 B.C.), the implacable foe of Julius Caesar and a champion of liberty and republican principles. Their 144 essays were published from 1720 to 1723, originally in the London Journal, later in the British Journal. Subsequently collected as Cato’s Letters, these “Essays on Liberty, Civil and Religious” became, as Clinton Rossiter has remarked, “the most popular, quotable, esteemed source of political ideas in the colonial period.” This new two-volume edition offers minimally modernized versions of the letters from the four-volume sixth edition printed in London in 1755.

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Key Quotes

War & Peace

We find by woeful experience, that three shillings in the pound has not maintained the current expence of the government, but we have run still in debt. The money given for the Civil List has not defrayed that charge, but new and large sums have been given to pay off the arrears; which, it is said,…