...The Senate proceeded to consider the resolution.
A motion was made by Mr. White, to amend the same, by adding at the end thereof, the following: "Provided that an additional article, to be executed between the United States and the friends and followers of the late General McIntosh, by their delegation, now in the City of Washington, shall be entered into, containing the following stipulations by the United States, in favor of the said friends and followers of the late General McIntosh.
1. That the sum of 30,000 dollars, for each one thousand persons of said Creek nation, be paid, who, within months after the ratification of the treaty, shall signify their disposition to the Agent to emigrate to the west of the Mississippi, and who shall, accordingly, carry said design into execution, within a reasonable time thereafter.
2. The United States to support each of said emigrants, for months after their arrival at the point of destination; months notice of their intention to emigrate being given to the United States, through their Agent, to pay for supplies furnished the Mcintosh party, since the death of the General, proper vouchers for the same being produced: and to give to each male emigrant, over the age of sixteen years, a rifle-gun and ammunition, butcher knife, and a camp kettle, and to pay for the value of all improvements left by any emigrant, which add to the real value of the land, to be ascertained by a Commissioner, to be appointed by the President.
3. To stipulate, that the exploring party provided for in the treaty, shall be accompanied by an Agent, who shall be acceptable to them, and to be appointed by the President; and, after the return of the said Agent, herein provided for, and after his report to the Secretary of War, the President of the United States shall, forthwith, grant to such Agent special commission, authorizing him to repair to the Creek nation, there to open a book of registry, in which shall be inserted the names of all persons willing to emigrate to the country which shall have been determined upon, of which due and public notice shall be given throughout all the Creek nation.
The friends and followers of the late General McIntosh, shall have free access to the several towns, and to all parts of the Creek nation, under the protection of the said Special Agent, for the purpose of inducing their friends, throughout the nation, to join them in their emigration; and all persons desirous of emigrating, shall be at full liberty to do so, without hindrance or molestation from those who remain; and the Resident Agent of the United States shall be instructed to give them all necessary aid, and the said Special shall accompany them in their emigration....
- Journal of the executive proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America, 1815-1829 FRIDAY, April 21, 1826. Library of Congress - American Memory.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
So, the point of this post is for readers to post businesses; Name, Address, City and State, of those who refuse to allow an armed citizen on their property. And spread the word to our fellow citizens to NOT frequent their establishments until they change their 'policy'. For nothing can change minds more quickly than potential loss of income.
Please feel free to post any business that you are aware of that denies We The People to be armed on their premises. This can be done by adding their Name, Address, City and State into a comment. Please also remember to post those that have retracted their former [tyrannical] stance, and now allow armed citizens on their premises. This is important, for it provides incentive to others to follow the example.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Friends and Fellow-citizens: The Convention concurred in opinion with the people, that a national government, competent to every national object, was indispensably necessary; and it was as plain to them, as it now is to all America, that the present Confederation does not provide for such a government. These points being agreed, they proceeded to consider how and in what manner such a government could be formed, as, on the one hand, should be sufficiently energetic to raise us from our prostrate and distressed situation, and, on the other, be perfectly consistent with the liberties of the people of every state. Like men to whom the experience of other ages and countries had taught wisdom, they not only determined that it should be erected by, and depend on, the people, but, remembering the many instances in which governments vested solely in one man, or one body of men, had degenerated into tyrannies, they judged it most prudent that the three great branches of power should be committed to different hands, and therefore that the executive should be separated from the legislative, and the judicial from both. Thus far the propriety of their work is easily seen and understood, and therefore is thus far almost universally approved; for no one man or thing under the sun ever yet pleased every body.
The next question was, what particular powers should be given to these three branches. Here the different views and interests of the different states, as well as the different abstract opinions of their members on such points, interposed many difficulties. Here the business became complicated, and presented a wide field for investigation--too wide for every eye to take a quick and comprehensive view of it.
It is said that "in a multitude of counsellors there is safety," because, in the first place, there is greater security for probity; and in the next, if every member cast in only his mite of information and argument, their joint stock of both will thereby become greater than the stock possessed by any one single man out of doors. Gentlemen out of doors, therefore, should not be hasty in condemning a system which probably rests on more good reasons than they are aware of, especially when formed under such advantages, and recommended by so many men of distinguished worth and abilities.
The difficulties before mentioned occupied the Convention a long time; and it was not without mutual concessions that they were at last surmounted. These concessions serve to explain to us the reason why some parts of the system please in some states which displease in others, and why many of the objections which have been made to it are so contradictory and inconsistent with one another. It does great credit to the temper and talents of the Convention, that they were able so to reconcile the different views and interests of the different states, and the clashing opinions of their members, as to unite with such singular and almost perfect unanimity in any plan whatever, on a subject so intricate and perplexed. It shows that it must have been thoroughly discussed and understood; and probably, if the community at large had the same lights and reasons before them, they would, if equally candid and uninfluenced, be equally unanimous.
It would be arduous, and indeed impossible, to comprise within the limits of this address a full discussion of every part of the plan. Such a task would require a volume; and few men have leisure or inclination to read volumes on any subject. The objections made to it are almost without number, and many of them without reason. Some of them are real and honest, and others merely ostensible. There are friends to union and a national government who have serious doubts, who wish to be informed, and to be convinced; and there are others, who, neither wishing for union nor any national government at all, will oppose and object to any plan that can be contrived.
We are told, among other strange things, that the liberty of the press is left insecure by the proposed Constitution; and yet that Constitution says neither more nor less about it than the Constitution of the state of New York does. We are told that it deprives us of trial by jury; whereas the fact is, that it expressly secures it in certain cases, and takes it away in none. It is absurd to construe the silence of this, or of our own Constitution, relative to a great number of our rights, into a total extinction of them. Silence and blank paper neither grant nor take away any thing. Complaints are also made that the proposed Constitution is not accompanied by a bill of rights; and yet they who make these complaints know, and are content, that no bill of rights accompanied the Constitution of this state. In days and countries where monarchs and their subjects were frequently disputing about prerogative and privileges, the latter then found it necessary, as it were, to run out the line between them, and oblige the former to admit, by solemn acts, called bills of rights, that certain enumerated rights belonged to the people, and were not comprehended in the royal prerogative. But, thank God, we have no such disputes; we have no monarchs to contend with, or demand admissions from. The proposed government is to be the government of the people: all its officers are to be their officers, and to exercise no rights but such as the people commit to them. The Constitution only serves to point out that part of the people's business, which they think proper by it to refer to the management of the persons therein designated: those persons are to receive that business to manage, not for themselves, and as their own, but as agents and overseers for the people, to whom they are constantly responsible, and by whom only they are to be appointed.
But the design of this address is not to investigate the merits of the plan, nor of the objections made to it. They who seriously contemplate the present state of our affairs, will be convinced that other considerations, of at least equal importance, demand their attention. Let it be admitted that this plan, like every thing else devised by man, has its imperfections. That it does not please every body, is certain; and there is little reason to expect one that will. It is a question of great moment to you, whether the probability of our being able seasonably to obtain a better, is such as to render it prudent and advisable to reject this, and run the risk. Candidly to consider this question, is the design of this address.
As the importance of this question must be obvious to every man, whatever his private opinions respecting it may be, it becomes us all to treat it in that calm and temperate manner which a subject so deeply interesting to the future welfare of our country, and prosperity, requires. Let us, therefore, as much as possible, repress and compose that irritation in our minds which too warm disputes about it may have excited. Let us endeavor to forget that this or that man is on this or that side; and that we ourselves, perhaps without sufficient reflection, have classed ourself with one or the other party. Let us remember that this is not to be regarded as a matter that only touches our local parties, but as one so great, so general, and so extensive, in its future consequence to America, that, for our deciding upon it according to the best of our unbiased judgment, we must be highly responsible both here and hereafter.
The question now before us naturally leads to three inquiries:--
1. Whether it is probable that a better plan can be obtained.
2. Whether, if attainable, it is likely to be in season.
3. What would be our situation if, after rejecting this, all our efforts to obtain a better should prove fruitless.
The men who formed this plan are Americans, who had long deserved and enjoyed our confidence, and who are as much interested in having a good government as any of us are or can be. They were appointed to that business at a time when the states had become very sensible of the derangement of our national affairs, and of the impossibility of retrieving them under the existing Confederation. Although well persuaded that nothing but a good national government could oppose and divert the tide of evils that was flowing in upon us, yet those gentlemen met in Convention with minds perfectly unprejudiced in favor of any particular plan. The minds of their constituents were at that time equally cool and dispassionate. All agreed in the necessity of doing something; but no one ventured to say decidedly what precisely ought to be done. Opinions were then fluctuating and unfixed; and whatever might have been the wishes of a few individuals, yet while the Convention deliberated, the people remained in silent suspense. Neither wedded to favorite systems of their own, nor influenced by popular ones abroad, the members were more desirous to receive light from, than to impress their private sentiments on, one another.
These circumstances naturally opened the door to that spirit of candor, of calm inquiry, of mutual accommodation, and mutual respect, which entered into the Convention with them, and regulated their debates and proceedings.
The impossibility of agreeing upon any plan, that would exactly quadrate with the local policy and objects of every state, soon became evident; and they wisely thought it better mutually to coincide and accommodate, and in that way to fashion their system as much as possible by the circumstances and wishes of the different states, than, by pertinaciously adhering each to his own ideas, oblige the Convention to rise without doing any thing. They were sensible that obstacles, arising from local circumstances, would not cease while those circumstances continued to exist; and, so far as those circumstances depended on differences of climate, productions, and commerce, that no change was to be expected. They were likewise sensible that, on a subject so comprehensive, and involving such a variety of points and questions, the most able, the most candid, and the most honest men will differ in opinion. The same proposition seldom strikes many minds exactly in the same point of light. Different habits of thinking, different degrees and modes of education, different prejudices and opinions, early formed and long entertained, conspire, with a multitude of other circumstances, to produce among men a diversity and contrariety of opinions on questions of difficulty. Liberality, therefore, as well as prudence, induced them to treat each other's opinions with tenderness; to argue without asperity; and to endeavor to convince the judgment, without hurting the feelings, of each other. Although many weeks were passed in these discussions, some points remained on which a unison of opinions could not be effected. Here, again, that same happy disposition to unite and conciliate induced them to meet each other; and enabled them, by mutual concessions, finally to complete and agree to the plan they have recommended, and that, too, with a degree of unanimity which, considering the variety of discordant views and ideas they had to reconcile, is really astonishing.
They tell us, very honestly, that this plan is the result of accommodation. They do not hold it up as the best of all possible ones, but only as the best which they could unite in and agree to. If such men, appointed and meeting under such auspicious circumstances, and so sincerely disposed to conciliation, could go no farther in their endeavors to please every state and every body, what reason have we, at present, to expect any system that would give more general satisfaction?
Suppose this plan to be rejected; what measures would you propose for obtaining a better? Some will answer, "Let us appoint another convention; and, as every thing has been said and written that can well be said and written on the subject, they will be better informed than the former one was, and consequently be better able to make and agree upon a more eligible one."
This reasoning is fair, and, as far as it goes, has weight; but it nevertheless takes one thing for granted which appears very doubtful; for, although the new convention might have more information, and perhaps equal abilities, yet it does not from thence follow that they would be equally disposed to agree. The contrary of this position is most probable. You must have observed that the same temper and equanimity which prevailed among the people on former occasions, no longer exist. We have unhappily become divided into parties; and this important subject has been handled with such indiscreet and offensive acrimony, and with so many little, unhandsome artifices and misrepresentations, that pernicious heats and animosities have been kindled, and spread their flames far and wide among us. When, therefore, it becomes a question who shall be deputed to the new convention, we cannot flatter ourselves that the talents and integrity of the candidates will determine who shall be elected. Federal electors will vote for federal deputies, and anti-federal electors for anti-federal ones. Nor will either party prefer the most moderate of their adherents; for, as the most stanch and active partisans will be the most popular, so the men most willing and able to carry points, to oppose and divide, and embarrass their opponents, will be chosen. A convention formed at such a season, and of such men, would be but too exact an epitome of the great body that named them. The same party views, the same propensity to opposition, the same distrusts and jealousies, and the same unaccommodating spirit, which prevail without, would be concentred and ferment with still greater violence within. Each deputy would recollect who sent him, and why he was sent, and be too apt to consider himself bound in honor to contend and act vigorously under the standard of his party, and not hazard their displeasure by preferring compromise to victory. As vice does not sow the seed of virtue, so neither does passion cultivate the fruits of reason. Suspicions and resentments create no disposition to conciliate; nor do they infuse a desire of making partial and personal objects bend to general union and the common good. The utmost efforts of that excellent disposition were necessary to enable the late Convention to perform their task; and although contrary causes sometimes operate similar effects, yet to expect that discord and animosity should produce the fruits of confidence and agreement, is to expect "grapes from thorns, and figs from thistles."
The states of Georgia, Delaware, Jersey, and Connecticut, have adopted the present plan with unexampled unanimity. They are content with it as it is; and consequently their deputies, being apprized of the sentiments of their constituents, will be little inclined to make alternations, and cannot be otherwise than averse to changes, which they have no reason to think would be agreeable to their people. Some other states, though less unanimous, have nevertheless adopted it by very respectable majorities--and for reasons so evidently cogent, that even the minority in one of them have nobly pledged themselves for its promotion and support. From these circumstances, the new convention would derive and experience difficulties unknown to the former. Nor are these the only additional difficulties they would have to encounter. Few are ignorant that there has lately sprung up a sect of politicians who teach, and profess to believe, that the extent of our nation is too great for the superintendence of one national government, and on that principle argue that it ought to be divided into two or three. This doctrine, however mischievous in its tendency and consequences, has its advocates; and, should any of them be sent to the convention, it will naturally be their policy rather to cherish than to prevent divisions; for, well knowing that the institution of any national government would blast their favorite system, no measures that lead to it can meet with their aid or approbation.
Nor can we be certain whether or not any, and what, foreign influence would, on such an occasion, be indirectly exerted, nor for what purposes. Delicacy forbids an ample discussion of this question. Thus much may be said without error or offence, viz.: that such foreign nations as desire the prosperity of America, and would rejoice to see her become great and powerful, under the auspices of a government wisely calculated to extend her commerce, to encourage her navigation and marine, and to direct the whole weight of her power and resources as her interest and honor may require, will doubtless be friendly to the union of states, and to the establishment of a government able to perpetuate, protect, and dignify it. Such other foreign nations, if any such there be, who, jealous of our growing importance, and fearful that our commerce and navigation should impair their own, behold our rapid population with regret, and apprehend that the enterprising spirit of our people, when seconded by power and probability of success, may be directed to objects not consistent with their policy or interests, cannot fail to wish that we may continue a weak and a divided people.
These considerations merit much attention; and candid men will judge how far they render it probable that a new convention would be able either to agree in a better plan, or, with tolerable unanimity, in any plan at all. Any plan, forcibly carried, by a slender majority, must expect numerous opponents among the people, who, especially in their present temper, would be more inclined to reject than adopt any system so made and carried. We should, in such a case, again see the press teeming with publications for and against it; for, as the minority would take pains to justify their dissent, so would the majority be industrious to display the wisdom of their proceedings. Hence new divisions, new parties, and new distractions, would ensue; and no one can foresee or conjecture when or how they would terminate.
Let those who are sanguine in their expectations of a better plan from a new convention, also reflect on the delays and risks to which it would expose us. Let them consider whether we ought, by continuing much longer in our present humiliating condition, to give other nations further time to perfect their restrictive systems of commerce, reconcile their own people to them, and to fence, and guard, and strengthen them by all those regulations and contrivances in which a jealous policy is ever fruitful. Let them consider whether we ought to give further opportunities to discord to alienate the hearts of our citizens from one another, and thereby encourage new Cromwells to bold exploits. Are we certain that our foreign creditors will continue patient, and ready to proportion their forbearance to our delays? Are we sure that our distresses, dissensions, and weakness, will neither invite hostility nor insult? If they should, how ill prepared shall we be for defence, without union, without government, without money, and without credit!
It seems necessary to remind you that some time must yet elapse before all the states will have decided on the present plan. If they reject it, some time must also pass before the measure of a new convention can be brought about and generally agreed to. A further space of time will then be requisite to elect their deputies, and send them on to convention. What time they may expend, when met, cannot be divined; and it is equally uncertain how much time the several states may take to deliberate and decide on any plan they may recommend. If adopted, still a further space of time will be necessary to organize and set it in motion. In the mean time, our affairs are daily going on from bad to worse; and it is not rash to say that our distresses are accumulating like compound interest.
But if, for the reasons already mentioned, and others that we cannot now perceive, the new convention, instead of producing a better plan, should give us only a history of their disputes, or should offer us one still less pleasing than the present, where should we be then? The old Confederation has done its best, and cannot help us; and is now so relaxed and feeble, that, in all probability, it would not survive so violent a shock. Then, "To your tents, O Israel!" would be the word. Then, every band of union would be severed. Then, every state would be a little nation, jealous of its neighbors, and anxious to strengthen itself, by foreign alliances, against its former friends. Then farewell to fraternal affection, unsuspecting intercourse, and mutual participation in commerce, navigation, and citizenship. Then would arise mutual restrictions and fears, mutual garrisons and standing armies, and all those dreadful evils which for so many ages plagued England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, while they continued disunited, and were played off against each other.
Consider, then, how weighty and how many considerations advise and persuade the people of America to remain in the safe and easy path of union; to continue to move and act, as they hitherto have done, as a band of brothers; and to have confidence in themselves and in one another; and, since all cannot see with the same eyes, at least to give the proposed Constitution a fair trial, and to mend it as time, occasion, and experience, may dictate. It would little become us to verify the predictions of those who ventured to prophesy that peace, instead of blessing us with happiness and tranquillity, would serve only as the signal for factions, discord, and civil contentions, to rage in our land, and overwhelm it with misery and distress.
Let us also be mindful that the cause of freedom greatly depends on the use we make of the singular opportunities we enjoy of governing ourselves wisely; for, if the event should prove that the people of this country either cannot or will not govern themselves, who will hereafter be advocates for systems which, however charming in theory and prospect, are not reducible to practice? If the people of our nation, instead of consenting to be governed by laws of their own making, and rulers of their own choosing, should let licentiousness, disorder, and confusion, reign over them, the minds of men every where will insensibly become alienated from republican forms, and prepared to prefer and acquiesce in governments which, though less friendly to liberty, afford more peace and security.
Receive this address with the same candor with which it is written; and may the spirit of wisdom and patriotism direct and distinguish your councils and your conduct.
JOHN JAY, a Citizen of New York. [Mr. Jay was later the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court].
"Hereafter when peace and independency shall be established, temptations to disaffection, the preservation of property and office, or the expectation of them will cease, and united truly like a band of brothers, we may bid defiance to the world."
- William Ellery to William Whipple, May 31st 1778 [Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 9 February 1, 1778 - May 31, 1778]
Monday, June 30, 2008
"We hold from God the gift which includes all others. This gift is life — physical, intellectual, and moral life.
"But life cannot maintain itself alone. The Creator of life has entrusted us with the responsibility of preserving, developing, and perfecting it. In order that we may accomplish this, He has provided us with a collection of marvelous faculties. And He has put us in the midst of a variety of natural resources. By the application of our faculties to these natural resources we convert them into products, and use them. This process is necessary in order that life may run its appointed course.
"Life, faculties, production — in other words, individuality, liberty, property — this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it. Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.
"What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.
"Each of us has a natural right — from God — to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties? If every person has the right to defend even by force — his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right — its reason for existing, its lawfulness — is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force — for the same reason — cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.
"Such a perversion of force would be, in both cases, contrary to our premise. Force has been given to us to defend our own individual rights. Who will dare to say that force has been given to us to destroy the equal rights of our brothers? Since no individual acting separately can lawfully use force to destroy the rights of others, does it not logically follow that the same principle also applies to the common force that is nothing more than the organized combination of the individual forces?
"If this is true, then nothing can be more evident than this: The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all."
- Frederic Bastiat, (1801-1850), "The Law": [This translation of The Law was done by Dean Russell of The Foundation staff. The Foundation for Economic Education, Inc. Irvington-on-Hudson, New York]
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
"From among the rights retained by our policy, we have selected those of self defence or bearing arms, of conscience, and of free inquiry, for two purposes; one, to shew the vast superiority of our policy, in being able to keep natural rights necessary for liberty and happiness, out of the hands of governments; the other, to shew that this ability is the effect of its principles, and beyond the reach of Mr. Adams’s system, or of any other, unable to reserve to the people, and to withhold from governments, a variety of rights."
- John Taylor, Revolutionary Soldier and U.S. Senator, (1792 – 94, 1803, 1822 – 24). [An Inquiry into the Principles and Policy of the Government of the United States: Section the Sixth; THE GOOD MORAL PRINCIPLES OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES, (1814).]
"TAYLOR, John, a Senator from Virginia known as ‘John Taylor of Caroline’ to distinguish him from others of the same name; born in either Orange or Caroline County, Va., probably on December 19, 1753; educated by private tutors; studied at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Va., 1770-1772; studied law; admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Caroline County in 1774; served in the Revolutionary War as major and colonel; member, State house of delegates 1779-1785, with the exception of 1782, and 1796-1800; retired from the practice of law and engaged in agricultural pursuits; elected in 1792 to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Richard Henry Lee; reelected in 1793 and served from October 18, 1792, until his resignation on May 11, 1794; presidential elector in 1797; appointed to the United States Senate as a Democratic Republican to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Stevens T. Mason and served from June 4 to December 7, 1803, when a successor was elected; was not a candidate for election to fill the vacancy; elected in 1822 to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of James Pleasants; reelected as a Crawford Republican in 1823, and served from December 18, 1822, until his death in Caroline County, Va., August 21, 1824; interment on Hazelwood farm, near Port Royal, Caroline County, Va."
Saturday, June 07, 2008
Every art and science, however imperfectly known at first, has been studied, improved and brought to what we call perfection by the progressive labors of succeeding generations; but the science of government has stood still. No improvement has been made in the principle and scarcely any in the practise till the American Revolution began. In all the countries of Europe (except in France) the same forms and systems that were erected in the remote ages of ignorance still continue, and their antiquity is put in the place of principle; it is forbidden to investigate their orgin, or by what right they exist. If it be asked how has this happened, the answer is easy: they are established on a principle that is false, and they employ their power to prevent detection.
Notwithstanding the mystery with which the science of government has been enveloped, for the purpose of enslaving, plundering and imposing upon mankind, it is of all things the least mysterious and the most easy to be understood. The meanest capacity cannot be at a loss, if it begins its inquiries at the right point. Every art and science has some point, or alphabet, at which the study of that art or science begins, and by the assistance of which the progress is facilitated. The same method ought to be observed with respect to the science of government.
Instead then of embarrassing the subject in the outset with the numerous subdivisions under which different forms of government have been classed, such as aristocracy, democracy, oligarchy, monarchy, etc., the better method will be to begin with what may be called primary divisions, or those under which all the several subdivisions will be comprehended.
The primary divisions are but two:
First, government by election and representation.
Secondly, government by hereditary succession.
All the several forms and systems of government, however numerous or diversified, class themselves under one or other of those primary divisions; for either they are on the system of representation, or on that of hereditary succession. As to that equivocal thing called mixed government, such as the late Government of Holland, and the present Government of England, it does not make an exception to the general rule, because the parts separately considered are either representative or hereditary.
Beginning then our inquiries at this point, we have first to examine into the nature of those two primary divisions. If they are equally right in principle, it is mere matter of opinion which we prefer. If the one be demonstratively better than the other that difference directs our choice; but if one of them should be so absolutely false as not to have a right of existence the matter settles itself at once; because a negative proved on one thing, where two only are offered, and one must be accepted, amounts to an affirmative on the other.
The revolutions that are now spreading themselves in the world have their origin in this state of the case, and the present war is a conflict between the representative system founded on the rights of the people, and the hereditary system founded in usurpation. As to what are called monarchy, royalty and aristocracy, they do not, either as things or as terms, sufficiently describe the hereditary system; they are but secondary things or signs of the hereditary system, and which fall of themselves if that system has not a right to exist.
Were there no such terms as monarchy, royalty and aristocracy, or were others terms substituted in their place, the hereditary system, if it continued, would not be altered thereby. It would be the same system under any other titulary name as it is now.
The character therefore of the revolutions of the present day distinguishes itself most definitively by grounding itself on the system of representative government, in opposition to the hereditary. No other distinction reaches the whole of the principle.
Having thus opened the case generally, I proceed, in the first place, to examine the hereditary system because it has the priority in point of time. The representative system is the invention of the modern world; and, that no doubt may arise as to my own opinion, I declare it beforehand, which is, that there is not a problem in Euclid more mathematically true than that hereditary government has not a right to exist. When therefore we take from any man the exercise of hereditary power we take away that which he never had the right to possess, and which no law or custom could, or ever can, give him a title to.
The arguments that have hitherto been employed against the hereditary system have been chiefly founded upon the absurdity of it, and its incompetency to the purpose of good government. Nothing can present to our judgment, or to our imagination, a figure of greater absurdity, than that of seeing the government of a nation fall, as it frequently does, into the hands of a lad necessarily destitute of experience, and often little better than a fool. It is an insult to every man of years, of character, and of talents, in a country.
The moment we begin to reason upon the hereditary system, it falls into derision; let but a single idea begin and a thousand will soon follow. Insignificance, imbecility, childhood, dotage, want of moral character; in fine, every defect, serious or laughable, unite to hold up the hereditary system as a figure of ridicule. Leaving, however, the ridiculousness of the thing to the reflections of the reader, I proceed to the more important part of the question, namely, whether such a system has a right to exist.
To be satisfied of the right of a thing to exist, we must be satisfied that it had a right to begin. If it had not a right to begin, it has not the right to continue. By what right then did the hereditary system begin? Let a man but ask himself this question, and he will find that he cannot satisfy himself with an answer.
The right which any man or any family had to set itself up at first to govern a nation, and to establish itself hereditarily, was no other than the right which Robespierre had to do the same thing in France. If he had none, they had none. If they had any, he has as much; for it is impossible to discover superiority of right in any family, by virtue of which hereditary government could begin. The Capets, the Guelphs, the Robespierres, the Marats, are all on the same standing as to the question of right. It belongs exclusively to none.
It is one step toward liberty to perceive that hereditary government could not begin as an exclusive right in any family. The next point will be whether, having once begun, it could grow into a right by the influence of time.
This would be supposing an absurdity; for either it is putting time in the place of principle, or making it superior to principle; whereas time has no more connection with, or influence upon principle, than principle has upon time. The wrong which began a thousand years ago is as much a wrong as if it began to- day; and the right which originates to-day is as much a right as if it had the sanction of a thousand years.
Time with respect to principles is an eternal NOW: it has no operation upon them: it changes nothing of their nature and qualities. But what have we to do with a thousand years? Our lifetime is but a short portion of that period, and if we find the wrong in existence as soon as we begin to live, that is the point of time at which it begins to us; and our right to resist it is the same as if it never existed before.
As hereditary government could not begin as a natural right in any family, nor derive after its commencement any right from time, we have only to examine whether there exist in a nation a right to set it up, and establish it by what is called law, as has been done in England. I answer NO; and that any law or any constitution made for that purpose is an act of treason against the right of every minor in the nation, at the time it is made, and against the rights of all succeeding generations.
I shall speak upon each of those cases. First, of the minor at the time such law is made. Secondly, of the generations that are to follow.
A nation, in a collective sense, comprehends all the individuals of whatever age, from just born to just dying. Of these, one part will be minors and the other aged. The average of life is not exactly the same in every climate and country, but in general the minority in years are the majority in numbers; that is, the number of persons under twenty- one years, is greater than the number of persons above that age.
This difference in number is not necessary to the establishment of the principle I mean to lay down, but it serves to show the justice of it more strongly. The principle would be equally as good if the majority in years were also the majority in numbers.
The rights of minors are as sacred as the rights of the aged. The difference is altogether in the different age of the two parties, and nothing in the nature of the rights; the rights are the same rights; and are to be preserved inviolate for the inheritance of the minors when they shall come of age. During the minority of minors their rights are under the sacred guardianship of the aged.
The minor cannot surrender them; the guardian cannot dispossess him; consequently, the aged part of a nation, who are the law- makers for the time being, and who, in the march of life are but a few years ahead of those who are yet minors, and to whom they must shortly give place, have not and cannot have the right to make a law to set up and establish hereditary government, or, to speak more distinctly, an hereditary succession of governors; because it is an attempt to deprive every minor in the nation, at the time such a law is made, of his inheritance of rights when he shall come of age, and to subjugate him to a system of government to which, during his minority, he could neither consent nor object.
If a person who is a minor at the time such a law is proposed, had happened to have been born a few years sooner, so as to be of the age of twenty-one years at the time of proposing it, his right to have objected against it, to have exposed the injustice and tyrannical principles of it and to have voted against it, will be admitted on all sides.
If, therefore, the law operates to prevent his exercising the same rights after he comes of age as he would have had a right to exercise had he been of age at the time, it is undeniably a law to take away and annul the rights of every person in the nation who shall be a minor at the time of making such a law, and consequently the right to make it cannot exist.
I come now to speak of government by hereditary succession, as it applies to succeeding generations; and to show that in this case, as in the case of minors, there does not exist in a nation a right to set it up.
A nation, though continually existing, is continually in a state of renewal and succession. It is never stationary. Every day produces new births, carries minors forward to maturity, and old persons from the stage. In this ever running flood of generations there is no part superior in authority to another. Could we conceive an idea of superiority in any, at what point of time, or in what century of the world, are we to fix it? To what cause are we to ascribe it? By what evidence are we to prove it? By what criterion are we to know it?
A single reflection will teach us that our ancestors, like ourselves, were but tenants for life in the great freehold of rights. The fee- absolute was not in them, it is not in us, it belongs to the whole family of man through all ages. If we think otherwise than this we think either as slaves or as tyrants. As slaves, if we think that any former generation had a right to bind us; as tyrants, if we think that we have authority to bind the generations that are to follow.
It may not be inapplicable to the subject, to endeavor to define what is to be understood by a generation in the sense the word is here used.
As a natural term its meaning is sufficiently clear. The father, the son, the grandson, are so many distinct generations. But when we speak of a generation as describing the persons in whom legal authority resides, as distinct from another generation of the same description who are to succeed them, it comprehends all those who are above the age of twenty-one years, at the time that we count from; and a generation of this kind will continue in authority between fourteen and twenty-one years, that is, until the number of minors, who shall have arrived at age, shall be greater than the number of persons remaining of the former stock.
For example: If France, at this or any other moment, contains twenty-four millions of souls, twelve millions will be males, and twelve females. Of the twelve millions of males, six millions will be of the age of twenty-one years, and six will be under, and the authority to govern will reside in the first six.
But every day will make some alteration, and in twenty-one years every one of those minors who survives will have arrived at age, and the greater part of the former stock will be gone: the majority of persons then living, in whom the legal authority resides, will be composed of those who, twenty-one years before, had no legal existence. Those will be fathers and grandfathers in their turn, and, in the next twenty-one years (or less) another race of minors, arrived at age, will succeed them, and so on.
As this is ever the case, and as every generation is equal in rights to another, it consequently follows, that there cannot be a right in any to establish government by hereditary succession, because it would be supposing itself possessed of a right superior to the rest, namely, that of commanding by its own authority how the world shall be hereafter governed, and who shall govern it.
Every age and generation is, and must be (as a matter of right), as free to act for itself in all cases, as the age and generation that preceded it. The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies. Man has no property in man, neither has one generation a property in the generations that are to follow.
In the first part of the "Rights of Man" I have spoken of government by hereditary succession; and I will here close the subject with an extract from that work, which states it under the two following heads.
First, The right of a particular family to establish itself.
Secondly, The right of a nation to establish a particular family.
"With respect to the first of these heads, that of a family establishing itself with hereditary powers on its own authority, and independent of the consent of a nation, all men will concur in calling it despotism; and it would be trespassing on their understanding to attempt to prove it.
But the second head, that of a nation establishing a particular family with hereditary powers, does not present itself as despotism on the first reflection; but if men will permit a second reflection to take place, and carry that reflection forward but one remove out of their own persons to that of their offspring, they will then see that hereditary succession becomes in its consequences the same despotism to others, which they reprobated for themselves. It operates to preclude the consent of the succeeding generations; and the preclusion of consent is despotism.
When the person who at any time shall be in possession of a government, or those who stand in succession to him, shall say to a nation, I hold this power in 'contempt' of you, it signifies not on what authority he pretends to say it. It is no relief, but an aggravation to a person in slavery, to reflect that he was sold by his parent; and as that which heightens the criminality of an act cannot be produced to prove the legality of it, hereditary succession cannot be established as a legal thing.
In order to arrive to a more perfect decision on this head, it will be proper to consider the generation which undertakes to establish a family with hereditary powers, apart and separate from the generations which are to follow; and also to consider the character in which the first generation acts with respect to succeeding generations.
The generation which first selects a person, and puts him at the head of its government, either with the title of king, or any other distinction, acts its own choice, be it wise or foolish, as a free agent for itself. The person so set up is not hereditary, but selected and appointed; and the generation who sets him up, does not live under an hereditary government, but under a government of its own choice and establishment. Were the generation who sets him up, and the person so set up, to live for ever, it never could become hereditary succession; and of consequence, hereditary succession can only follow on the death of the first parties.
As therefore hereditary succession is out of the question with respect to the first generation, we have now to consider the character in which that generation acts with respect to the commencing generation, and to all succeeding ones.
It assumes a character, to which it has neither right nor title. It changes itself from a legislator to a testator, and affects to make its will, which is to have operation after the demise of the makers, to bequeath the government; and it not only attempts to bequeath, but to establish on the succeeding generation, a new and different form of government under which itself lived
Itself, as is already observed, lived not under an hereditary government, but under a government of its own choice and establishment; and it now attempts, by virtue of a will and testament, (which it has not authority to make), to take from the commencing generation, and all future ones, the rights and free agency by which itself acted.
But, exclusive of the right which any generation has to act collectively as a testator, the objects to which it applies itself in this case, are not within the compass of any law, or of any will or testament.
The rights of men in society are neither devisable, nor transferable, nor annihilable, but are descendible only; and it is not in the power of any generation to intercept finally and cut off the descent. If the present generation, or any other, are disposed to be slaves, it does not lessen the right of the succeeding generation to be free: wrongs cannot have a legal descent. When Mr. Burke attempts to maintain, that the English nation did at the Revolution of 1688, most solemnly renounce and abdicate their rights for themselves, and for all their posterity for ever; he speaks a language that merits not reply, and which can only excite contempt for his prostitute principles, or pity for his ignorance.
In whatever light hereditary succession, as growing out of the will and testament of some former generation, presents itself, it is an absurdity. A cannot make a will to take from B the property of B, and give it to C; yet this is the manner in which (what is called) hereditary succession by law operates.
A certain former generation made a will, to take away the rights of the commencing generation, and all future ones, and to convey those rights to a third person, who afterwards comes forward, and tells them, in Mr. Burke's language, that they have no rights, that their rights are already bequeathed to him, and that he will govern in contempt of them. From such principles, and such ignorance, Good Lord deliver the world!"
The history of the English Parliament furnishes an example of this kind; and which merits to be recorded as being the greatest instance of legislative ignorance and want of principle that is to be found in any country. The case is as follows:
The English Parliament of 1688, imported a man and his wife from Holland, William and Mary, and made them King and Queen of England. Having done this, the said Parliament made a law to convey the government of the country to the heirs of William and Mary, in the following words:
"We, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, do, in the name of the people of England, most humbly and faithfully submit ourselves, our heirs and posterities, to William and Mary, their heirs and posterities, forever." And in a subsequent law, as quoted by Edmund Burke, the said Parliament, in the name of the people of England then living, binds the said people, their heirs and posterities, to William and Mary, their heirs and posterities, to the end of time.
It is not sufficient that we laugh at the ignorance of such law-makers; it is necessary that we reprobate their want of principle. The Constituent Assembly of France, 1789, fell into the same vice as the Parliament of England had done, and assumed to establish an hereditary succession in the family of the Capets as an act of the Constitution of that year.
That every nation, for the time being, has a right to govern itself as it pleases, must always be admitted; but government by hereditary succession is government for another race of people, and not for itself; and as those on whom it is to operate are not yet in existence, or are minors, so neither is the right in existence to set up for them, and to assume such a right is treason against the right of posterity.
I here close the arguments on the first head, that of government by hereditary succession; and proceed to the second, that of government by election and representation; or, as it may be concisely expressed, representative government, in contradistinction to hereditary government.
Reasoning by exclusion, if hereditary government has not a right to exist, and that it has not is provable, representative government is admitted of course. In contemplating government by election and representation, we amuse not ourselves in inquiring when or how, or by what right, it began. Its origin is ever in view. Man is himself the origin and the evidence of the right. It appertains to him in right of his existence, and his person is the title deed.
Alexander Hamilton wrote, in 1775: "The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written as with a sunbeam in the whole volume of human nature by the hand of Divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power."
The true and only true basis of representative government is equality of rights. Every man has a right to one vote, and no more in the choice of representatives. The rich have no more right to exclude the poor from the right of voting, or of electing and being elected, than the poor have to exclude the rich; and wherever it is attempted, or proposed, on either side, it is a question of force and not of right. Who is he that would exclude another? That other has a right to exclude him.
That which is now called aristocracy implies an inequality of rights; but who are the persons that have a right to establish this inequality? Will the rich exclude themselves? No. Will the poor exclude themselves? No. By what right then can any be excluded? It would be a question, if any man or class of men have a right to exclude themselves; but, be this as it may, they cannot have the right to exclude another. The poor will not delegate such a right to the rich, nor the rich to the poor, and to assume it is not only to assume arbitrary power, but to assume a right to commit robbery.
Personal rights, of which the right of voting for representatives is one, are a species of property of the most sacred kind: and he that would employ his pecuniary property, or presume upon the influence it gives him, to dispossess or rob another of his property or rights, uses that pecuniary property as he would use fire-arms, and merits to have it taken from him.
Inequality of rights is created by a combination in one part of the community to exclude another part from its rights. Whenever it be made an article of a constitution, or a law, that the right of voting, or of electing and being elected, shall appertain exclusively to persons possessing a certain quantity of property, be it little or much, it is a combination of the persons possessing that quantity to exclude those who do not possess the same quantity. It is investing themselves with powers as a self-created part of society, to the exclusion of the rest.
It is always to be taken for granted, that those who oppose an equality of rights never mean the exclusion should take place on themselves; and in this view of the case, pardoning the vanity of the thing, aristocracy is a subject of laughter. This self-soothing vanity is encouraged by another idea not less selfish, which is that the opposers conceive they are playing a safe game, in which there is a chance to gain and none to lose; that at any rate the doctrine of equality includes them, and that if they cannot get more rights than those whom they oppose and would exclude they shall not have less.
This opinion has already been fatal to thousands, who, not contented with equal rights, have sought more till they lost all, and experienced in themselves the degrading inequality they endeavored to fix upon others.
In any view of the case it is dangerous and impolitic, sometimes ridiculous, and always unjust to make property the criterion of the right of voting. If the sum or value of the property upon which the right is to take place be considerable it will exclude a majority of the people and unite them in a common interest against the government and against those who support it; and as the power is always with the majority, they can overturn such a government and its supporters whenever they please.
If, in order to avoid this danger, a small quantity of property be fixed, as the criterion of the right, it exhibits liberty in disgrace, by putting it in competition with accident and insignificance. When a brood-mare shall fortunately produce a foal or a mule that, by being worth the sum in question, shall convey to its owner the right of voting, or by its death take it from him, in whom does the origin of such a right exist? Is it in the man, or in the mule? When we consider how many ways property may be acquired without merit, and lost without crime, we ought to spurn the idea of making it a criterion of rights.
But the offensive part of the case is that this exclusion from the right of voting implies a stigma on the moral character of the persons excluded; and this is what no part of the community has a right to pronounce upon another part. No external circumstance can justify it: wealth is no proof of moral character; nor poverty of the want of it.
On the contrary, wealth is often the presumptive evidence of dishonesty; and poverty the negative evidence of innocence. If therefore property, whether little or much, be made a criterion, the means by which that property has been acquired ought to be made a criterion also.
The only ground upon which exclusion from the right of voting is consistent with justice would be to inflict it as a punishment for a certain time upon those who should propose to take away that right from others. The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are protected.
To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery, for slavery consists in being subject to the will of another, and he that has not a vote in the election of representatives is in this case. The proposal therefore to disfranchise any class of men is as criminal as the proposal to take away property.
When we speak of right we ought always to unite with it the idea of duties: rights become duties by reciprocity. The right which I enjoy becomes my duty to guarantee it to another, and he to me; and those who violate the duty justly incur a forfeiture of the right.
In a political view of the case, the strength and permanent security of government is in proportion to the number of people interested in supporting it. The true policy therefore is to interest the whole by an equality of rights, for the danger arises from exclusions. It is possible to exclude men from the right of voting, but it is impossible to exclude them from the right of rebelling against that exclusion; and when all other rights are taken away the right of rebellion is made perfect.
While men could be persuaded they had no rights, or that rights appertained only to a certain class of men, or that government was a thing existing in right of itself, it was not difficult to govern them authoritatively. The ignorance in which they were held, and the superstition in which they were instructed, furnished the means of doing it.
But when the ignorance is gone, and the superstition with it; when they perceive the imposition that has been acted upon them; when they reflect that the cultivator and the manufacturer are the primary means of all the wealth that exists in the world, beyond what nature spontaneously produces; when they begin to feel their consequence by their usefulness, and their right as members of society, it is then no longer possible to govern them as before. The fraud once detected cannot be re-acted. To attempt it is to provoke derision, or invite destruction.
That property will ever be unequal is certain. Industry, superiority of talents, dexterity of management, extreme frugality, fortunate opportunities, or the opposite, or the means of those things, will ever produce that effect, without having recourse to the harsh, ill-sounding names of avarice and oppression; and besides this there are some men who, though they do not despise wealth, will not stoop to the drudgery or the means of acquiring it, nor will be troubled with it beyond their wants or their independence; while in others there is an avidity to obtain it by every means not punishable; it makes the sole business of their lives, and they follow it as a religion. All that is required with respect to property is to obtain it honestly, and not employ it criminally; but it is always criminally employed when it is made a criterion for exclusive rights.
In institutions that are purely pecuniary, such as that of a bank or a commercial company, the rights of the members composing that company are wholly created by the property they invest therein; and no other rights are represented in the government of that company than what arise out of that property; neither has that government cognizance of anything but property.
But the case is totally different with respect to the institution of civil government, organized on the system of representation. Such a government has cognizance of everything, and of every man as a member of the national society, whether he has property or not; and, therefore, the principle requires that every man, and every kind of right, be represented, of which the right to acquire and to hold property is but one, and that not of the most essential kind.
The protection of a man's person is more sacred than the protection of property; and besides this, the faculty of performing any kind of work or services by which he acquires a livelihood, or maintaining his family, is of the nature of property. It is property to him; he has acquired it; and it is as much the object of his protection as exterior property, possessed without that faculty, can be the object of protection in another person.
I have always believed that the best security for property, be it much or little, is to remove from every part of the community, as far as can possibly be done, every cause of complaint, and every motive to violence; and this can only be done by an equality of rights. When rights are secure, property is secure in consequence. But when property is made a pretense for unequal or exclusive rights, it weakens the right to hold the property, and provokes indignation and tumult; for it is unnatural to believe that property can be secure under the guarantee of a society injured in its rights by the influence of that property.
Next to the injustice and ill-policy of making property a pretense for exclusive rights, is the unaccountable absurdity of giving to mere sound the idea of property, and annexing to it certain rights; for what else is a title but sound? Nature is often giving to the world some extraordinary men who arrive at fame by merit and universal consent, such as Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, etc. They were truly great or noble. But when government sets up a manufactory of nobles, it is as absurd as if she undertook to manufacture wise men. Her nobles are all counterfeits.
This wax-work order has assumed the name of aristocracy; and the disgrace of it would be lessened if it could be considered only as childish imbecility. We pardon foppery because of its insignificance, and on the same ground we might pardon the foppery of titles. But the origin of aristocracy was worse than foppery. It was robbery. The first aristocrats in all countries were brigands. Those of later times, sycophants.
It is very well known that in England (and the same will be found in other countries), the great landed estates now held in descent were plundered from the quiet inhabitants at the Conquest. The possibility did not exist of acquiring such estates honestly. If it be asked how they could have been acquired, no answer but that of robbery can be given. That they were not acquired by trade, by commerce, by manufactures, by agriculture, or by any reputable employment, is certain.
How then were they acquired? Blush, aristocracy, to hear your origin, for your progenitors were thieves. They were the Robespierres and the Jacobins of that day. When they had committed the robbery, they endeavored to lose the disgrace of it by sinking their real names under fictitious ones, which they called titles. It is ever the practise of felons to act in this manner. They never pass by their real names.
As property, honestly obtained, is best secured by an equality of rights, so ill-gotten property depends for protection on a monopoly of rights. He who has robbed another of his property, will next endeavor to disarm him of his rights, to secure that property; for when the robber becomes the legislator he believes himself secure. That part of the Government of England that is called the House of Lords, was originally composed of persons who had committed the robberies of which I have been speaking. It was an association for the protection of the property they had stolen.
But besides the criminality of the origin of aristocracy, it has an injurious effect on the moral and physical character of man. Like slavery it debilitates the human faculties; for as the mind bowed down by slavery loses in silence its elastic powers, so, in the contrary extreme, when it is buoyed up by folly, it becomes incapable of exerting them, and dwindles into imbecility. It is impossible that a mind employed upon ribands and titles can ever be great. The childishness of the objects consumes the man.
It is at all times necessary, and more particularly so during the progress of a revolution, and until right ideas confirm themselves by habit, that we frequently refresh our patriotism by reference to first principles. It is by tracing things to their origin that we learn to understand them: and it is by keeping that line and that origin always in view that we never forget them.
An inquiry into the origin of rights will demonstrate to us that rights are not gifts from one man to another, nor from one class of men to another; for who is he who could be the first giver, or by what principle, or on what authority, could he possess the right of giving?
A declaration of rights is not a creation of them, nor a donation of them. It is a manifest of the principle by which they exist, followed by a detail of what the rights are; for every civil right has a natural right for its foundation, and it includes the principle of a reciprocal guarantee of those rights from man to man. As, therefore, it is impossible to discover any origin of rights otherwise than in the origin of man, it consequently follows, that rights appertain to man in right of his existence only, and must therefore be equal to every man.
The principle of an equality of rights is clear and simple. Every man can understand it, and it is by understanding his rights that he learns his duties; for where the rights of men are equal, every man must finally see the necessity of protecting the rights of others as the most effectual security for his own.
But if, in the formation of a constitution, we depart from the principle of equal rights, or attempt any modification of it, we plunge into a labyrinth of difficulties from which there is no way out but by retreating. Where are we to stop? Or by what principle are we to find out the point to stop at, that shall discriminate between men of the same country, part of whom shall be free, and the rest not?
If property is to be made the criterion, it is a total departure from every moral principle of liberty, because it is attaching rights to mere matter, and making man the agent of that matter. It is, moreover, holding up property as an apple of discord, and not only exciting but justifying war against it; for I maintain the principle, that when property is used as an instrument to take away the rights of those who may happen not to possess property, it is used to an unlawful purpose, as fire-arms would be in a similar case.
In a state of nature all men are equal in rights, but they are not equal in power; the weak cannot protect themselves against the strong. This being the case, the institution of civil society is for the purpose of making an equalization of powers that shall be parallel to, and a guarantee of, the equality of rights. The laws of a country, when properly constructed, apply to this purpose. Every man takes the arm of the law for his protection as more effectual than his own; and therefore every man has an equal right in the formation of the government, and of the laws by which he is to be governed and judged. In extensive countries and societies, such as America and France, this right in the individual can only be exercised by delegation, that is, by election and representation; and hence it is that the institution of representative government arises.
Hitherto, I have confined myself to matters of principle only. First, that hereditary government has not a right to exist; that it cannot be established on any principle of right; and that it is a violation of all principle. Secondly, that government by election and representation has its origin in the natural and eternal rights of man; for whether a man be his own lawgiver, as he would be in a state of nature; or whether he exercises his portion of legislative sovereignty in his own person, as might be the case in small democracies where all could assemble for the formation of the laws by which they were to be governed; or whether he exercises it in the choice of persons to represent him in a national assembly of representatives, the origin of the right is the same in all cases. The first, as is before observed, is defective in power; the second, is practicable only in democracies of small extent; the third, is the greatest scale upon which human government can be instituted.
Next to matters of principle are matters of opinion, and it is necessary to distinguish between the two. Whether the rights of men shall be equal is not a matter of opinion but of right, and consequently of principle; for men do not hold their rights as grants from each other, but each one in right of himself. Society is the guardian but not the giver. And as in extensive societies, such as America and France, the right of the individual in matters of government cannot be exercised but by election and representation, it consequently follows that the only system of government consistent with principle, where simple democracy is impracticable, is the representative system.
But as to the organical part, or the manner in which the several parts of government shall be arranged and composed, it is altogether matter of opinion. It is necessary that all the parts be conformable with the principle of equal rights; and so long as this principle be religiously adhered to, no very material error can take place, neither can any error continue long in that part which falls within the province of opinion.
In all matters of opinion, the social compact, or the principle by which society is held together, requires that the majority of opinions becomes the rule for the whole, and that the minority yields practical obedience thereto. This is perfectly conformable to the principle of equal rights: for, in the first place, every man has a right to give an opinion but no man has a right that his opinion should govern the rest. In the second place, it is not supposed to be known beforehand on which side of any question, whether for or against, any man's opinion will fall. He may happen to be in a majority upon some questions, and in a minority upon others; and by the same rule that he expects obedience in the one case, he must yield it in the other.
All the disorders that have arisen in France during the progress of the Revolution have had their origin, not in the principle of equal rights, but in the violation of that principle. The principle of equal rights has been repeatedly violated, and that not by the majority but by the minority, and that minority has been composed of men possessing property, as well as of men without property; property, therefore, even upon the experience already had, is no more a criterion of character than it is of rights.
It will sometimes happen that the minority are right, and the majority are wrong, but as soon as experience proves this to be the case, the minority will increase to a majority, and the error will reform itself by the tranquil operation of freedom of opinion and equality of rights. Nothing, therefore, can justify an insurrection, neither can it ever be necessary where rights are equal and opinions free.
Taking then the principle of equal rights as the foundation of the Revolution, and consequently of the Constitution, the organical part, or the manner in which the several parts of the Government shall be arranged in the Constitution, will, as is already said, fall within the province of opinion.
Various methods will present themselves upon a question of this kind, and though experience is yet wanting to determine which is the best, it has, I think, sufficiently decided which is the worst.
That is the worst, which in its deliberations and decisions is subject to the precipitancy and passion of an individual; and when the whole legislature is crowded into one body it is an individual in mass. In all cases of deliberation it is necessary to have a corps of reserve, and it would be better to divide the representation by lot into two parts, and let them revise and correct each other, than that the whole should sit together, and debate at once.
Representative government is not necessarily confined to any one particular form. The principle is the same in all the forms under which it can be arranged. The equal rights of the people is the root from which the whole springs, and the branches may be arranged as present opinion or future experience shall best direct. As to that hospital of incurables (as Chesterfield calls it), the British House of Peers, it is an excrescence growing out of corruption; and there is no more affinity or resemblance between any of the branches of a legislative body originating from the right of the people, and the aforesaid House of Peers, than between a regular member of the human body and an ulcerated wen.
As to that part of government that is called the executive, it is necessary in the first place to fix a precise meaning to the word. There are but two divisions into which power can be arranged. First, that of willing or decreeing the laws; secondly, that of executing or putting them in practise. The former corresponds to the intellectual faculties of the human mind which reasons and determines what shall be done; the second, to the mechanical powers of the human body that puts that determination into practise.
If the former decides, and the latter does not perform, it is a state of imbecility; and if the latter acts without the predetermination of the former, it is a state of lunacy. The executive department therefore is official, and is subordinate to the legislative, as the body is to the mind in a state of health; for it is impossible to conceive the idea of two sovereignties, a sovereignty to will and a sovereignty to act.
The executive is not invested with the power of deliberating whether it shall act or not; it has no discretionary authority in the case; for it can act no other thing than what the laws decree, and it is obliged to act conformably thereto; and in this view of the case the executive is made up of all the official departments that execute the laws, of which that which is called the judiciary is the chief.
But mankind have conceived an idea that some kind of authority is necessary to superintend the execution of the laws and to see that they are faithfully performed; and it is by confounding this superintending authority with the official execution that we get embarrassed about the term executive power. All the parts in the governments of the United States of America that are called the executive, are no other than authorities to superintend the execution of the laws; and they are so far independent of the legislative that they know the legislative only through the laws, and cannot be controlled or directed by it through any other medium.
In what manner this superintending authority shall be appointed, or composed, is a matter that falls within the province of opinion. Some may prefer one method and some another; and in all cases, where opinion only and not principle is concerned, the majority of opinions forms the rule for all.
There are however some things deducible from reason, and evidenced by experience, that serve to guide our decision upon the case. The one is never to invest any individual with extraordinary power; for besides his being tempted to misuse it, it will excite contention and commotion in the nation for the office. Secondly, never to invest power long in the hands of any number of individuals. The inconveniences that may be supposed to accompany frequent changes are less to be feared than the danger that arises from long continuance.
I shall conclude this discourse with offering some observations on the means of preserving liberty; for it is not only necessary that we establish it, but that we preserve it.
It is, in the first place, necessary that we distinguish between the means made use of to overthrow despotism, in order to prepare the way for the establishment of liberty, and the means to be used after the despotism is overthrown.
The means made use of in the first case are justified by necessity. Those means are, in general, insurrections; for while the established government of despotism continues in any country it is scarcely possible that any other means can be used. It is also certain that in the commencement of a revolution, the revolutionary party permit to themselves a discretionary exercise of power regulated more by circumstances than by principle, which, were the practise to continue, liberty would never be established, or if established would soon be overthrown. It is never to be expected in a revolution that every man is to change his opinion at the same moment.
There never yet was any truth or any principle so irresistibly obvious that all men believed it at once. Time and reason must cooperate with each other to the final establishment of any principle; and therefore those who may happen to be first convinced have not a right to persecute others, on whom conviction operates more slowly. The moral principle of revolutions it to instruct, not to destroy.
Had a constitution been established two years ago (as ought to have been done), the violences that have since desolated France and injured the character of the Revolution, would, in my opinion, have been prevented. The nation would then have had a bond of union, and every individual would have known the line of conduct he was to follow. But, instead of this, a revolutionary government, a thing without either principle or authority, was substituted in its place; virtue and crime depended upon accident; and that which was patriotism one day became treason the next.
All these things have followed from the want of a constitution; for it is the nature and intention of a constitution to prevent governing by party, by establishing a common principle that shall limit and control the power and impulse of party, and that says to all parties, thus far shalt thou go and no further. But in the absence of a constitution, men look entirely to party; and instead of principle governing party, party governs principle.
An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws. He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.
- Thomas Paine, Paris: July, 1795.
Monday, May 19, 2008
"...Mr. Foote considered it an insult to place Mississipi on such a disgraceful position, as calling on her sons to make war on the General Government. When such a time did arise, he would deliberate and decide the question. When his State was assaulted--when she called to arms--when his fireside was invaded, he would have no difficulty in deciding where his allegiance was due. He would not in such a case pause to chop logic upon where his allegiance called him; his heart told him where that allegiance was due. He knew there were a great many persons in Mississipi who would be found to support her ordinances, and he would not consider them traitors for so doing. They might be called traitors, and the General Government might prepare the rope wherewith to hang them; but at this day it ought to be known that but a few freemen died by the rope when they had arms in their hands...."
- "Latest Intelligence", By Telegraph to The New-York Daily Times, XXXIId Congress....First Session, Senate, Washington, Dec. 16th. [The New York Times, Published: December 16, 1851]
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Saturday, May 17, 2008
The Sale Of Pistols.
(From the Archives of the New York Times)Commenting, in our issue of Saturday. on the murder of Sullivan by Gill, we briefly suggested, as we have frequently done before, the propriety of including pistols in the law against carrying concealed weapons. It is certainly an anomaly that the weapon with which more than half the homicides and deadly assaults in this City are perpetrated should be exempted from the operations of a provision expressly intended to lessen the chances by limiting the facilities of murder. It is of no use to say that men shall not carry knives or slung-shots, if you permit them to carry indiscriminately and freely a weapon more deadly, and, at the same time, more popular, than either knife or slung-shot. Yet it would be useless to deny the existence of a general feeling in the commmunity that a law against carrying pistols would be a virtual disarmament of the law-abiding citizen, who would obey the statute, for the benefit of the lawless, who would persistently disregard it. That opinion was even expressed by a Magistrate on the bench, and is, no doubt, largely shared by the better portion of the community. Theoretically, the citizen has no occasion for weapons of self-defense. Practically we all know he has, and must at times, in any city however well governed and well policed.The objection that such a law as that suggested would be disregarded by the very persons whom it was chiefly designed to reach, is not, of course, logically speaking, a valid objection. The disorderly and dangerous classes defy all laws, and their opposition is not only to be expected, but constitutes one of the chief necessities for making laws at all. Nevertheless, the objection will have weight with many, and may tend to the continuance of a practice which all good men must deprecate, if they do not condemn. The way to meet this argument has already been indicated in these columns. If it is impracticable to forbid the carrying of pistols outright, their sale should at least be so restricted as to furnish a partial guarantee against their getting into improper hands. This very murder is a striking instance of the danger resulting from the present looseness of the traffic in firearms. Gill quarreled with Sullivan, when by all the testimony, he was more than half drunk. In that condition he went directly from the dram-shop to a neighboring gun-shop, bought a revolver, which the clerk who sold it loaded at his request, and with the weapon so procured, went directly back and shot his victim dead. It is only necessary to state the facts to show the preposterousness of permitting every irresponsible shopkeeper to sell loaded pistols to every drunken and murderous ruffian who applies for them. Our druggists are not allowed thus to vend poison to every applicant, and somewhat the same restrictions should certainly be applied to the sale of firearms, at least to the sale of pistols. Shot-gunsand rifles are not yet here favorite implements of assassination, as in the South-west, and there is little danger that a man who buys them does so with a sinister intent. But pistols cannot safely be committed to every irresponsible hand, and in someway their sale should be regulated and subjected to Police supervision.Nor need there be any apprehension that the just freedom of the citizen would thereby be infringed. The constitutional right to carry arms does not imply the right of every drunken loafer to bear about in his pocket the implements of murder. It is license, not liberty, that we seek to check, and we are sure that neither any reputable gunsmith, nor any reputable citizen, would object to such a restriction as that we propose. Men whom it was safe to trust with firearms could, without unnecessay trouble, prove that fact to the proper authorities, and obtain a suitable license. The other sort would then evade the regulation at their own peril. Our Police Magistrates would have no difficulty in deciding when a pistol was a"concealed weapon," in the full sense of the present statute, and when a legitimate weapon of
The New York TimesPublished: June 22, 1874Copyright The New York Times
"If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government . . . The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms..."
- Alexander Hamilton, Federalist #28."The defence of one’s self, justly called the primary law of nature, is not, nor can it be abrogated by any regulation of municipal law. This principle of defence is not confined merely to the person; it extends to the liberty and the property of a man: it is not confined merely to his own person; it extends to the persons of all those, to whom he bears a peculiar relation -- of his wife, of his parent, of his child, of his master, of his servant: nay, it extends to the person of every one, who is in danger; perhaps, to the liberty of every one, whose liberty is unjustly and forcibly attacked. It becomes humanity as well as justice."
- James Wilson, 'Of the Natural Rights of Individuals', 1790-1792 (Signed the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution, Congressman, Delegate to the Constitutional Convention and U.S. Supreme Court Justice).
"Also, the conditions and circumstances of the period require a finding that while the stated purpose of the right to arms was to secure a well-regulated militia, the right to self-defense was assumed by the Framers."
- Chief Justice John Marshall, U.S. Supreme Court. [As quoted in Nunn v. State, 1 Ga. 243, 251 (1846); State v. Dawson, 272 N.C. 535, 159 S.E.2d 1, 9 (1968).]"For, in principle, there is no difference between a law prohibiting the wearing of concealed arms, and a law forbidding the wearing such as are exposed; and if the former be unconstitutional, the latter must be so likewise. But it should not be forgotten, that it is not only a part of the right that is secured by the constitution; it is the right entire and complete, as it existed at the adoption of the constitution; and if any portion of that right be impaired, immaterial how small the part may be, and immaterial the order of time at which it be done, it is equally forbidden by the constitution."
- Bliss vs. Commonwealth, 12 Ky. (2 Litt.) 90, at 92, and 93, 13 Am. Dec. 251 (1822)."Two propositions in our constitutional jurisprudence are no longer debatable. One is that the national government is one of enumerated powers; and the other, that a power enumerated and delegated by the Constitution to Congress is comprehensive and complete, without other limitations than those found in the Constitution itself.
"The Constitution is a written instrument. As such its meaning does not alter. That which it meant when adopted, it means now. Being a grant of powers to a government, its language is general; and, as changes come in social and political life, it embraces in its grasp all new conditions which are within the scope of the powers in terms conferred. In other words, [Page 199 U.S. 437, 449] while the powers granted do not change, they apply from generation to generation to all things to which they are in their nature applicable. This in no manner abridges the fact of its changeless nature and meaning. Those things which are within its grants of power, as those grants were understood when made, are still within them; and those things not within them remain still excluded. As said by Mr. Chief Justice Taney in Scott v. Sandford, 19 How. 393, 426, 15 L. ed. 691, 709:"'It is not only the same in words, but the same in meaning, and delegates the same powers to the government, and reserves and secures the same rights and privileges to the citizen; and as long as it continues to exist in its present form, it speaks not only in the same words, but with the same meaning and intent with which it spoke when it came from the hands of its framers, and was voted on and adopted by the people of the United States. Any other rule of construction would abrogate the judicial character of this court, and make it the mere reflex of the popular opinion or passion of the day.'"It must also be remembered that the framers of the Constitution were not mere visionaries, toying with speculations or theories, but practical men, dealing with the facts of political life as they understood them; putting into form the government they were creating, and prescribing, in language clear and intelligible, the powers that government was to take. Mr. Chief Justice Marshall, in Gobbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1, 188, 6 L. ed. 23, 68, well declared:"'As men whose intentions require no concealment generally employ the words which most directly and aptly express the ideas they intend to convey, the enlightened patriots who framed our Constitution, and the people who adopted it, must be understood to have employed words in their natural sense, and to have intended what they have said.'"- Mr. Justice Brewer deliver[ing] the opinion of the court, U.S. Supreme Court, [South Carolina v. US, 199 U.S. 437 (1905)]