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The Common-wealth of Oceana by James Harrington


First Edition. James Harrington’s great Utopian political treatise, “The Common-Wealth of Oceana,” was published in 1656. “Oceana” was published in two first editions for Daniel Pakeman and Livewell Chapman (presented here) by John Streater with their contents almost identical. The first printing was seized while at the printer and censored by Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Harrington appealed to Cromwell’s daughter, Elizabeth Claypole, who intervened and led to the book being printed with a new dedication to Cromwell.

The volume was widely read and criticized by Henry Ferne and Matthew Wren. An abridged version in three volumes was published in 1659 entitled, “The Art of Lawgiving.” In “Oceana,” Olphaus Megaletor (Cromwell) rules the dominion of Oceana (England) and Harrington tries to create a new society in a republic in a moderate aristocracy with equilibrium of property and an explanation of an ideal constitution.

Harrington’s ideal vision of state went on to influence it is believed the United States government and politics in regards to the Constitution, dual legislatures and the election of the president.

TITLE: The Common-wealth of Oceana by James Harrington

Published: 1656

Catalogue: #0158