City Readers Digital Historic Collections at the New York Society Library
Samuel Puffendorf (1632-1694)
Freiherr Samuel von Pufendorf (8 January 1632 – 13 October 1694) was a German jurist, political philosopher, economist and historian. He was born Samuel Pufendor and ennobled in 1684; he was made a baron by Charles XI of Sweden a few months before his death at age 62. Among his achievements are his commentaries and revisions of the natural law theories of Thomas Hobbes and Hugo Grotius.
Pufendorf was familiar to American political writers such as Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson. His political concepts are part of the cultural background of the American Revolution. Pufendorf is seen as an important precursor of Enlightenment in Germany. He was involved in constant quarrels with clerical circles and frequently had to defend himself against accusations of heresy, despite holding largely traditional Christian views on matters of dogma and doctrine.