UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

The political thought of Daniel Dulany, the Elder Yirush, Craig Bryan


This thesis is an examination of the political thought of Daniel Dulany, the Elder (1689-1753), a leading Maryland lawyer and assemblyman of the early 18th century. Starting with an examination of the structure of Maryland politics up to and including the 1720’s, it argues that Dulany, as the leader of the Maryland lower house, used that institution’s growing powers to make a vigorous challenge to proprietorial rule between 1722 and 1729; and that this challenge was met by an equally strong one from the lord proprietor. The key issue was the lower house’s desire for the extension of the English statutes law. By the late 1720’s, this conflict had resulted in an administrative and political stalemate. The pamphlet that Dulany wrote came out of this context; and this paper argues that it is the best expression of Maryland political thought in the early 18th century. It is also claimed that, because it is one of the earliest surviving southern political writings, it can offer us insight on the nature of ideas available to colonial Americans before the American Revolution. The key concepts in the pamphlet are then examined in detail. A case is made that Dulany has a strong idea of the rights of the individual subject, and that this is the reason why he desires the English statute law. His position on rights is examined, and an argument is made for the influence of John Locke’s idea of natural rights on Dulany. Next the issue of virtue is taken up. Dulany is seen to have a non-civic conception of virtue, one that includes a strong respect for the protection of a private realm. Dulany’s views on the public good are also seen to include a respect for the rights of the subject. Finally it is argued that his desire for the protections afforded by English statute law involves a downp’aying of the role of the active, publicly concerned citizen in favour of a formal legal setup. Lastly, the various sources used in the pamphlet are examined. In the conclusion, a demonstration of the ways in which Dulany ‘s concept of rights contributed to his overall political philosophy is offered. Finally, the reading of Dulany’s pamphlet offered in this thesis is briefly compared to the reading of early modern political theory presented in modern historiography.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.