Graham Clure’s current research is devoted to a project entitled “Rousseau’s Global Legacy: The Science of Political Right from Poland to America,” within the framework of the Turin Humanities Program’s project on “Enlightenment Legacy: The Rights of Man in a Global Perspective” (2021-2023 Research Cycle). The project concerns the nineteenth-century legacy of something that Rousseau referred to as “the great and useless science of political right,” the foundations of which, in Rousseau’s idiosyncratic view, were laid not by the writings of Grotius or Pufendorf, but rather by Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws.
Understanding Rousseau’s scornful tribute to Montesquieu can, in turn, help to reveal the ambitions of his last major work on politics, the Considerations on the Government of Poland, which was written in 1770-71 and went on to shape the theories of “monarchico-republicanism” that were formulated by subsequent thinkers, such as Sieyès, Condorcet and the Physiocrat Pierre-Samuel Du Pont de Nemours.
Du Pont is of particular interest because, like Rousseau, he was intimately involved in Polish reform debates during the early 1770s, when he served as counsellor to the Polish crown and secretary of the new Commission for National Education. Unlike Rousseau, the younger Du Pont remained involved in Polish affairs through the 1780s and 1790s. From the 1780s until his death in 1817, Du Pont devoted his attention to the economic and political development of another large and predominantly agrarian republic, the United States of America, where he emigrated in 1800.
The hypothesis of the project is that Du Pont’s early activities in Poland can shed considerable light on the later phases of his career, when he collaborated with a range of politicians and reformers, from the American President Thomas Jefferson to the the Venezuelan emissary to the United States, Pedro Gual Escandón, for whom Du Pont composed constitutional advice in 1815, during the struggle of the United Provinces of New Grenada for independence from Spain.