Adam Lebovitz

Assistant Professor of Humanities
CSE E548

Adam Lebovitz is a historian of political thought, specializing in the constitutional ideas of the late eighteenth century in America, Britain, and France. He holds a doctorate and a law degree from Harvard. Prior to joining the Hamilton Center in 2024, he held fellowships at Stanford University, the University of Cambridge, and the Harvard Law School. His research has been published, or is forthcoming, in venues such as the William and Mary Quarterly, the American Journal of Legal History, and the Cambridge History of Rights. His first book, Colossus: Constitutional theory in America and France, 1776-1799, is forthcoming with Princeton University Press. He has won numerous prizes, including the Leo Strauss Prize from the American Political Science Association, the Robert Noxon Toppan Prize from Harvard University, and the Montreal Political Theory Manuscript Award.

Current Project

Lebovitz is currently writing a book titled Dictatorship in the Age of Revolution, which presents a history of republican dictatorship in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world. Before 1776, it was considered standard for republics facing war, or internal unrest, to appoint a dictator with plenary powers. Yet by the early nineteenth century, “dictatorship” had become a byword for usurpation and tyranny. This book asks how, and why, dictatorship was severed from its traditional associations with liberty and republicanism, through an investigation of three overlapping historical contexts: the American founding, Britain under George III, and revolutionary France. Drawing on new manuscript sources, as well as novel interpretations of classical texts, this book establishes the surprising ubiquity of Roman dictatorship in the institutional imagination of the late eighteenth century, and outlines the surprising reasons that this controversial office was exiled from the republican tradition. Lebovitz is also finalizing a critical edition of an unknown history of the French Revolution, which may have been authored by Thomas Paine, based on a manuscript he discovered in the French National Archives in 2018.



  • Ph.D., Department of Government, Harvard University, 2018
  • J.D., Harvard Law School (magna cum laude), 2012
  • B.A., Department of Political Science, University of Chicago, 2006

Publications - Books

‘The image of rights in the French revolution’, in The Cambridge History of Rights, eds. Dan Edelstein and Jennifer Pitts (Cambridge, 2024), 260-297.

‘Dictatorship in the American Founding’, Journal of American Constitutional History (August 2024).

An unknown manuscript on the Terror, attributed to Thomas Paine‘, William and Mary Quarterly (October 2018), 687-716.

An economy of violence: financial crisis and Whig constitutional thought, 1720-1721‘,Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities (September 2018), 165-238.

Franklin Redivivus: The Radical Constitution, 1791-1799‘, American Journal of Legal History (January 2017), 1-50

The Battlefield of Metaphysics: Perpetual Peace revisited‘, Modern Intellectual History (Summer 2016), 327-355.

Obstruction and emergency in late republican Rome‘, History of Political Thought (Autumn 2015), 419-451.

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