The Social Contract, or Principles of Political Right

By Jean Jacques Rousseau, A.D. 1762.
Translated by G. D. H. Cole Annotation of text copyright 2007 David Trumbull, Boston Leadership Builders. All Rights Reserved.

Foederis æquas Dicamus leges.
Virgil, Æneid xi.


This little treatise is part of a longer work which I began years ago without realising my limitations, and long since abandoned. Of the various fragments that might have been extracted from what I wrote, this is the most considerable, and, I think, the least unworthy of being offered to the public. The rest no longer exists.

Book I
1. Subject of the First Book
2. The First Societies
3. The Right of the Strongest
4. Slavery
5. That We Must Always Go Back to a First Convention
6. The Social Compact
7. The Sovereign
8. The Civil State
9. Real Property
Book II
1. That Sovereignty is Inalienable
2. That Sovereignty is Indivisible
3. Whether the General Will is Fallible
4. The Limits of the Sovereign Power
5. The Right of Life and Death
6. Law
7. The Legislator
8. The People
9. The People (continued)
10. The People (continued)
11. The Various Systems of Legislation
12. The Division of the Laws
Book III
1. Government in General
2. The Constituent Principle in the Various Forms of Government
3. The Division of Governments
4. Democracy
5. Aristocracy
6. Monarchy
7. Mixed Governments
8. That All Forms of Government Do Not Suit All Countries
9. The Marks of a Good Government
10. The Abuse of Government and Its Tendency to Degenerate
11. The Death of the Body Politic
12. How the Sovereign Authority Maintains Itself
13. The Same (continued)
14. The Same (continued)
15. Deputies or Representatives
16. That the Institution of Government is not a Contract
17. The Institution of Government
18. How to Check the Usurpations of Government
Book IV
1. That the General Will is Indestructible
2. Voting
3. Elections
4. The Roman Comitia
5. The Tribunate
6. The Dictatorship
7. The Censorship
8. Civil Religion
9. Conclusion