A Vermont minister, scientist, and philosophy professor, Williams believed the social contract should take a new form in America, where government derived its legitimacy from the consent of the governed. Williams expressed his ideas in two major works, The Natural and Civil History of the State of Vermont (1795) and Philosophical Lectures on the Constitution, Duty, and Religion of Man (1804). In these texts, Williams challenged a dominant notion in contractarian political thought that people sacrificed some of their freedom when they left a pre- political state of nature to join a polity, what Williams called a “state of society.”
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It is not necessary to enumerate the many advantages, that arise from this custom of early marriages. They comprehend all the society can receive from this source; from the preservation, and increase of the human race. Every thing useful and beneficial to man, seems to be connected with obedience to the laws of his nature, the inclinations, the duties, and the happiness of individuals, resolve themselves into customs and habits, favourable, in the highest degree, to society. In no case is this more apparent, than in the customs of nations respecting marriage.
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