Actually this separation of powers principle was new to the world in 1776 when many other newly independent states followed Virginia in this regard. In 1789, division of powers between national and state governments was added. You won’t learn a thing by studying documents from the 1789 national convention, and Edmund Pendleton’s Autobiography contains the only hint of how Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws found its way into American political institutions at the state level by way of Patrick Henry’s oratory at the Virginia Constitutional Convention of May 1776.
There were many references to a mixed constitution (executive one-man rule of a monarchy, judicial small group rule of an aristocracy, and legislative majority rule of a democracy) in the classics, especially in Polybius and Aristotle, but there is nothing explicit in Montesquieu’s misunderstanding of the English Constitution (like Polybius’ misunderstanding of the Roman Constitution) to suggest that our own three way separation of powers derives in any way from ancient political theory by way of Montesquieu, although Hamilton’s “The Farmer Refuted” indicates that Montesquieu was one of the five most influential philosophers studied by the founding fathers in general.
Just remember, Chuck, there are now THREE branches, of government: (1) Leg-kiss-sort-of, (2) Expletive, and (3) Judean, but I guess the incumbents of these institutions pretty much do as they please these days without bothering to look at their constitutional job descriptions.
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