Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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ALLEGIANCE, Oath of. The long civil wars which desolated England had, among other results, that of creating a host of pretenders to the crown, which passed from hand to hand during the War of the Roses. Thus, after the death of queen Mary, there were no less than fifteen competitors for the inheritance of the daughter of Henry VIII. Elisabeth, having had trouble enough in securing her rights, sought for means to strengthen her authority. The first parliament which she convoked therefore proposed to satisfy the wishes of the queen, and, for the first time, prescribed the oath of allegiance. By this oath, which might be exacted from every person twelve years of age and upward, the queen was recognized as the only and legitimate sovereign; fidelity and obedience were promised her; and she was declared head and supreme defender of the church of England. King James I. had the form of the oath of allegiance modified by parliament in a more monarchical sense than was allowed by the terms employed in the reign of Elisabeth. After the revolution of 1688, the famous convention which formed itself into parliament, voted to retain the oath, but took good care to expunge everything in it which had the odor of passive obedience. The learned English author, Paley, who has commented at length on the terms and motives of the oath in its new form, proved that it justified even armed resistance in case the prince, by infirmity of mind or culpable action, should attack the liberties of the country. No doubt this interpretation, so conformable to the tone of the English mind, is of authority to day in the constitutional interpretation of the oath of allegiance.


—In France, under Napoleon III., the first opposition deputies elected after 1852, having refused the political oath, the senatus-consultum, of Feb. 17, 1858, prescribed that every candidate for deputy should first put on file the oath of fidelity to the emperor. More than one who had at first refused afterward decided to take the oath. (See OATH.)


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