No Treason, Vol. VI.: The Constitution of No Authority by Lysander Spooner. No cover available. Download; Bibrec. Lysander Spooner No Treason Boston:Published by the author,No. 14 Bromfield Street. too, that other men practise this tyranny over him by the use of the ballot. lIe sees further, that, if he will but use the ballot. • See" No Treason, No.2," pages 5 and.
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Lysander Spooner's NO TREASON: The Constitution Of No Authority (MP3) Of No Authority. by: Lysander Spooner DOWNLOAD OPTIONS. Lysander Spooner () was a Massachusetts lawyer noted for his vigorous and brilliant No Treason No. DOWNLOAD OPTIONS. No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority. December 9, Lysander Spooner. The greatest case for anarchist political philosophy ever written. Narrated by.
In behalf of free government! In behalf of the principle that government should rest on consent! If the successors of Roger Williams, within a hundred years after their State had been founded upon the principle of free religious toleration, and when the Baptists had become strong on the credit of that principle, had taken to burning heretics with a fury never before seen among men; and had they finally gloried in having thus suppressed all question of the truth of the State religion; and had they further claimed to have done all this in behalf of freedom of conscience, the inconsistency between profession and conduct would scarcely have been greater than that of the North, in carrying on such a war as she has done, to compel men to live under and support a government that they did not want; and in then claiming that she did it in behalf of the principle that government should rest on consent.
Perhaps this last explanation is the true one. In charity to human nature, it is to be hoped that it is. If it be said that the consent of the strongest party, in a nation, is all that is necessary to justify the establishment of a government that shall have authority over the weaker party, it Edition: current; Page:  may be answered that the most despotic governments in the world rest upon that very principle, viz: the consent of the strongest party.
These governments are formed simply by the consent or agreement of the strongest party, that they will act in concert in subjecting the weaker party to their dominion. And the despotism, and tyranny, and injustice of these governments consist in that very fact.
Or at least that is the first step in their tyranny; a necessary preliminary to all the oppressions that are to follow. If it be said that the consent of the most numerous party, in a nation, is sufficient to justify the establishment of their power over the less numerous party, it may be answered: First.
That two men have no more natural right to exercise any kind of authority over one, than one has to exercise the same authority over two.
It would be absurd for the most numerous party to talk of establishing a government over the less numerous party, unless the former were also the strongest, as well as the most numerous; for it is not to be supposed that the strongest party would ever submit to the rule of the weaker party, merely because the latter were the most numerous.
And as matter of fact, it is perhaps never that governments are established by the most numerous party. They are usually, if not always, established by the less numerous party; their superior strength consisting in their superior wealth, intelligence, and ability to act in concert. Edition: current; Page:  Fourth. If our fathers, in , had acknowledged the principle that a majority had the right to rule the minority, we should never have become a nation; for they were in a small minority, as compared with those who claimed the right to rule over them.
Majorities, as such, afford no guarantees for justice.
They are men of the same nature as minorities. They have the same passions for fame, power, and money, as minorities; and are liable and likely to be equally—perhaps more than equally, because more boldly—rapacious, tyrannical and unprincipled, if intrusted with power.
There is no more reason, then, why a man should either sustain, or submit to, the rule of a majority, than of a minority. Majorities and minorities cannot rightfully be taken at all into account in deciding questions of justice.
And all talk about them, in matters of government, is mere absurdity. Men are dunces for uniting to sustain any government, or any laws, except those in which they are all agreed. And nothing but force and fraud compel men to sustain any other. To say that majorities, as such, have a right to rule minorities, is equivalent to saying that minorities have, and ought to have, no rights, except such as majorities please to allow them.
It is not improbable that many or most of the worst of governments—although established by force, and by a few, in the first place—come, in time, to be supported by a majority.
But if they do, this majority is composed, in large part, of the most ignorant, superstitious, timid, dependent, servile, and corrupt portions of the people; of those who have been over-awed by the power, intelligence, wealth, and arrogance; of those who have been deceived by the frauds; and of those who have been corrupted by the inducements, of the few who really constitute the government.
Such majorities, very likely, could be found in half, perhaps in nine-tenths, of all the countries on the globe. What do they prove? Nothing but the tyranny and corruption of the very governments that have reduced so large portions of Edition: current; Page:  the people to their present ignorance, servility, degradation, and corruption; an ignorance, servility, degradation, and corruption that are best illustrated in the simple fact that they do sustain the governments that have so oppressed, degraded, and corrupted them.
They do nothing towards proving that the governments themselves are legitimate; or that they ought to be sustained, or even endured, by those who understand their true character. The mere fact, therefore, that a government chances to be sustained by a majority, of itself proves nothing that is necessary to be proved, in order to know whether such government should be sustained, or not.
The principle that the majority have a right to rule the minority, practically resolves all government into a mere contest between two bodies of men, as to which of them shall be masters, and which of them slaves; a contest, that—however bloody—can, in the nature of things, never be finally closed, so long as man refuses to be a slave. But to say that the consent of either the strongest party, or the most numerous party, in a nation, is a sufficient justification for the establishment or maintenance of a government that shall control the whole nation, does not obviate the difficulty.
How do many millions of men, scattered over an extensive territory—each gifted by nature with individual freedom; required by the law of nature to call no man, or body of men, his masters; authorized by that law to seek his own happiness in his own way, to do what he will with himself and his property, so long as he does not trespass upon the equal liberty of others; authorized also, by that law, to defend his own rights, and redress his own wrongs; and to go to the assistance and defence of any Edition: current; Page:  of his fellow men who may be suffering any kind of injustice—how do many millions of such men come to be a nation, in the first place?
How is it that each of them comes to be stripped of all his natural, God-given rights, and to be incorporated, compressed, compacted, and consolidated into a mass with other men, whom he never saw; with whom he has no contract; and towards many of whom he has no sentiments but fear, hatred, or contempt? How does he become subjected to the control of men like himself, who, by nature, had no authority over him; but who command him to do this, and forbid him to do that, as if they were his sovereigns, and he their subject; and as if their wills and their interests were the only standards of his duties and his rights; and who compel him to submission under peril of confiscation, imprisonment, and death?
Clearly all this is the work of force, or fraud, or both. To speak of either their numbers, or their strength, is not to the purpose. The question is by what right does the nation exist? And by what right are so many atrocities committed by its authority? The answer to this question must certainly be, that at least such a nation exists by no right whatever.
We are, therefore, driven to the acknowledgment that nations and governments, if they can rightfully exist at all, can exist only by consent. Edition: current; Page:  IV. There is, therefore, no alternative but to say, either that the separate, individual consent of every man, who is required to aid, in any way, in supporting the government, is necessary, or that the consent of no one is necessary.
Clearly this individual consent is indispensable to the idea of treason; for if a man has never consented or agreed to support a government, he breaks no faith in refusing to support it. And if he makes war upon it, he does so as an open enemy, and not as a traitor—that is, as a betrayer, or treacherous friend.
All this, or nothing, was necessarily implied in the Declaration made in If the necessity for consent, then announced, was a sound principle in favor of three millions of men, it was an equally sound one in favor of three men, or of one man. If the principle was a sound one in behalf of men living on a separate continent, it was an equally sound one in behalf of a man living on a separate farm, or in a separate house.
Edition: current; Page:  Moreover, it was only as separate individuals, each acting for himself, and not as members of organized governments, that the three millions declared their consent to be necessary to their support of a government; and, at the same time, declared their dissent to the support of the British Crown.
“From Abolitionist to Anarchist: Lysander Spooner’s Radical Transition through the Civil War”
The governments, then existing in the Colonies, had no constitutional power, as governments, to declare the separation between England and America. It was also, in the eye of the law, only as separate individuals, each acting for himself, and exercising simply his natural rights as an individual, that the people at large assented to, and ratified the Declaration.
It was also only as so many individuals, each acting for himself, and exercising simply his natural rights, that they revolutionized the constitutional character of their local governments, so as to exclude the idea of allegiance to Great Britain ; changing their forms only as and when their convenience dictated. The whole Revolution, therefore, as a Revolution, was declared and accomplished by the people, acting separately as individuals, and exercising each his natural rights, and not by their governments in the exercise of their constitutional powers.
It was, therefore, as individuals, and only as individuals, each acting for himself alone, that they declared that their consent that is, their individual consent for each one could consent only for himself — was necessary to the creation or perpetuity of any government that they could rightfully be called on to support. In the same way each declared, for himself, that his own will, pleasure, and discretion were the only authorities he had any occasion to consult, In determining whether he would any longer support the government under which be had always lived.
And if this action of each individual were valid and rightful when he had so many other individuals to keep him company, it would have been, in the view of natural justice and right, equally valid and rightful, if he had taken the same step alone. He had the same natural right to take up arms alone to defend his own property against a single tax-gatherer, that he had to take up arms in company with three millions of others, to defend the property of all against an army of tax-gatherers.
Thus the whole Revolution turned upon, asserted, and, in theory, established, the right of each and every man, at his discretion, to release himself from the support of the government under which he had lived. And this principle was asserted, not as a right peculiar to themselves, or to that time, or as applicable only to the government then existing; but as a universal right of all men, at all times, and under all circumstances.
George the Third called our ancestors traitors for what they did at that time. But they were not traitors in fact, whatever he or his laws may have called them.
They were not traitors in fact, because they betrayed nobody, and broke faith with nobody. They were his equals, owing him no allegiance, obedience, nor any other duty, except such as they owed to mankind at large.
Their political relations with him had been purely voluntary. They had never pledged their faith to him that they would continue these relations any longer than it should please them to do so; and therefore they broke no faith in parting with him. They simply exercised their natural right of saying to him, and to the English people, that they were under no obligation to continue their political connexion with them, and that, for reasons of their own, they chose to dissolve it.
What was true of our ancestors, is true of revolutionists in general. The monarchs and governments, from whom they choose to separate, attempt to stigmatize them as traitors. But they are not traitors in fact; in-much they betray, and break faith with, no one. Having pledged no faith, they break none. They are simply men, who, for reasons of their own — whether good or bad, wise or unwise, is immaterial — choose to exercise their natural right of dissolving their connexion with the governments under which they have lived.
In doing this, they no more commit the crime of treason — which necessarily implies treachery, deceit, breach of faith — than a man commits treason when he chooses to leave a church, or any other voluntary association, with which he has been connected.
This principle was a true one in It is a true one now. It is the only one on which any rightful government can rest. It is the one on which the Constitution itself professes to rest.
If it does not really rest on that basis, it has no right to exist; and it is the duty of every man to raise his hand against it. If the men of the Revolution designed to incorporate in the Constitution the absurd ideas of allegiance and treason, which they had once repudiated, against which they had fought, and by which the world had been enslaved, they thereby established for themselves an indisputable claim to the disgust and detestation of all mankind. Number Two: The Constitution I The Constitution says: We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The meaning of this is simply We, the people of the United States, acting freely and voluntarily as individuals, consent and agree that we will cooperate with each other in sustaining such a government as is provided for in this Constitution. The whole authority of the Constitution rests upon it. If they did not consent, it was of no validity. Of course it had no validity, except as between those who actually consented.
And to make it binding upon any one, his signature, or other positive evidence of consent, was as necessary as in the case of any other-contract. The agreement is a simple one, like any other agreement. It is the same as one that should say: We, the people of the town of A — , agree to sustain a church, a school, a hospital, or a theatre, for ourselves and our children. Such an agreement clearly could have no validity, except as between those who actually consented to it.
Neither the conduct nor the rights of these signers would be improved at all by their saying to the dissenters: We offer you equal rights with ourselves, in the benefits of the church, school, hospital, or theatre, which we propose to establish, and equal voice in the control of it. It would be a sufficient answer for the others to say: We want no share in the benefits, and no voice in the control, of your institution; and will do nothing to support it.
The number who actually consented to the Constitution of the United States, at the first, was very small.
Considered as the act of the whole people, the adoption of the Constitution was the merest farce and imposture, binding upon nobody. The women, children, and blacks, of course, were not asked to give their consent. In addition to this, there were, in nearly or quite all the States, property qualifications that excluded probable one half, two thirds, or perhaps even three fourths, of the white male adults from the right of suffrage.
And of those who were allowed that right, we know not how many exercised it. Furthermore, those who originally agreed to the Constitution, could thereby bind nobody that should come after them. They could contract for nobody but themselves. They had no more natural right or power to make political contracts, binding upon succeeding generations, than they had to make marriage or business contracts binding upon them.
Still further. Even those who actually voted for the adoption of the Constitution, did not pledge their faith for any specific time; since no specific time was named, in the Constitution, during which the association should continue. It was, therefore, merely an association during pleasure; even as between the original parties to it.
Still less, if possible, has it been any thing more than a merely voluntary association, during pleasure, between the succeeding generations, who have never gone through, as their fathers did, with so much even as any outward formality of adopting it, or of pledging their faith to support it.
Such portions of them as pleased, and as the States permitted to vote, have only done enough, by voting and paying taxes, and unlawfully and tyrannically extorting taxes from others, to keep the government in operation for the time being. And this, in the view of the Constitution, they have done voluntarily, and because it was for their interest, or pleasure, and not because they were under any pledge or obligation to do it.
Any one man, or any number of men, have had a perfect right, at any time, to refuse his or their further support; and nobody could rightfully object to his or their withdrawal. There is no escape from these conclusions, if we say that the adoption of the Constitution was the act of the people, as individuals, and not of the States, as States.
On the other hand, if we say that the adoption was the act of the States, as States, it necessarily follows that they had the right to secede at pleasure, inasmuch as they engaged for no specific time. The consent, therefore, that has been given, whether by individuals, or by the States, has been, at most, only a consent for the time being; not an engagement for the future.
In truth, in the case of individuals, their actual voting is not to be taken as proof of consent, even for the time being. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, without his consent having ever been asked, a man finds himself environed by a government that he cannot resist; a government that forces him to pay money, render service, and forego the exercise of many of his natural rights, under peril of weighty punishments.
He sees, too, that other men practise this tyranny over him by the use of the ballot. He sees further that, if he will but use the ballot himself, he has some chance of relieving himself from this tyranny of others, by subjecting them to his own. In short, be finds himself, without his consent, so situated that, if he use the ballot, he may become a master; if he does not use it, he must become a slave. And he has no other alternative than these two. In self-defence, he attempts the former.
His case is analogous to that of a man who has been forced into battle, where he must either kill others, or be killed himself. Because, to save his own life in battle, a man attempts to take the lives of his opponents, it is not to be inferred that the battle is one of his own choosing. Neither in contests with the ballot — which is a mere substitute for a bullet — because, as his only chance of self-preservation, a man uses a ballot, is it to be inferred that the contest is one into which he voluntarily entered; that he voluntarily set up all his own natural rights, as a stake against those of others, to be lost or won by the mere power of numbers.
On the contrary, it is to be considered that, in an exigency, into which he had been forced by others, and in which no other means of self-defence offered, he, as a matter of necessity, used the only one that was left to him. Doubtless the most miserable of men, under the most oppressive government in the world, if allowed the ballot, would use it, if they could see any chance of thereby ameliorating their condition.
But it would not therefore be a legitimate inference that the government itself, that crushes them, was one which they had voluntarily set up, or ever consented to. Consequently we have no proof that any very large portion, even of the actual voters of the United States, ever really and voluntarily consented to the Constitution, even for the time being. Nor can we ever have such proof, until every man is left perfectly free to consent, or not, without thereby subjecting himself or his property to injury or trespass from others.
II The Constitution says: Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. This is the only definition of treason given by the Constitution, and it is to be interpreted, like all other criminal laws, in the sense most favorable to liberty and justice. Consequently the treason here spoken of, must be held to be treason in fact, and not merely something that may have been falsely called by that name.
Instead of regarding this false and calumnious meaning of the word treason, we are to look at its true and legitimate meaning in our mother tongue; at its use in common life; and at what would necessarily be its true meaning in any other contracts, or articles of association, which men might voluntarily enter into with each other. The true and legitimate meaning of the word treason, then, necessarily implies treachery, deceit, breach of faith.
Without these, there can be no treason. A traitor is a betrayer — one who practices injury, while professing friendship. Benedict Arnold was a traitor, solely because, while professing friendship for the American cause, he attempted to injure it. An open enemy, however criminal in other respects, is no traitor. Neither does a man, who has once been my friend, become a traitor by becoming an enemy, if before doing me an injury, he gives me fair warning that he has become an enemy; and if he makes no unfair use of any advantage which my confidence, in the time of our friendship, had placed in his power.
For example, our fathers — even if we were to admit them to have been wrong in other respects — certainly were not traitors in fact, after the fourth of July, ; since on that day they gave notice to the King of Great Britain that they repudiated his authority, and should wage war against him.
And they made no unfair use of any advantages which his confidence had previously placed in their power. It cannot be denied that, in the late war, the Southern people proved themselves to be open and avowed enemies, and not treacherous friends.
It cannot be denied that they gave us fair warning that they would no longer be our political associates, but would, if need were, fight for a separation. It cannot be alleged that they made any unfair use of advantages which our confidence, in the time of our friendship, had placed in their power.
Therefore they were not traitors in fact: and consequently not traitors within the meaning of the Constitution. Furthermore, men are not traitors in fact, who take up arms against the government, without having disavowed allegiance to it, provided they do it, either to resist the usurpations of the government, or to resist what they sincerely believe to be such usurpations.
It is a maxim of law that there can be no crime without a criminal intent. And this maxim is as applicable to treason as to any other crime. For example, our fathers were not traitors in fact, for resisting the British Crown, before the fourth of July, — that is, before they had thrown off allegiance to him — provided they honestly believed that they were simply defending their rights against his usurpations.
Even if they were mistaken in their law, that mistake, if an innocent one, could not make them traitors in fact. Certainly if Englishmen, Frenchmen, Austrians, or Italians, making no professions of support or friendship to the United States, levy war against them, or adhere to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort, they do not thereby make themselves traitors, within the meaning of the Constitution; and why?
Solely because they would not be traitors in fact. Making no professions of support or friendship, they would practice no treachery, deceit, or breach of faith.
But if they should voluntarily enter either the civil or military service of the United States, and pledge fidelity to them, without being naturalized, and should then betray the trusts reposed in them, either by turning their guns against the United States, or by giving aid and comfort to their enemies, they would be traitors in fact; and therefore traitors within the meaning of the Constitution; and could be lawfully punished as such. There is not, in the Constitution, a syllable that implies that persons, born within the territorial limits of the United States, have allegiance imposed upon them on account of their birth in the country, or that they will be judged by any different rule, on the subject of treason, than persons of foreign birth.
And there is no power, in Congress, to add to, or alter, the language of the Constitution, on this point, so as to make it more comprehensive than it now is. Therefore treason in fact — that is, actual treachery, deceit, or breach of faith — must be shown in the case of a native of the United States, equally as in the case of a foreigner, before he can be said to be a traitor.
Congress have seen that the language of the Constitution was insufficient, of itself to make a man a traitor — on the ground of birth in this country — who levies war against the United States, but practices no treachery, deceit, or breach of faith.
They have, therefore — although they had no constitutional power to do so — apparently attempted to enlarge the language of the Constitution on this point. And they have enacted: That if any person or persons, owing allegiance to the United States of America, shall levy war against them, or shall adhere to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort, such person or persons shall be adjudged guilty of treason against the United States, and shall suffer death.
It would be a sufficient answer to this enactment to say that it is utterly unconstitutional, if its effect would be to make any man a traitor, who would not have been one under the language of the Constitution alone.
As the Constitution professes to rest wholly on consent, no one can owe allegiance, service, obedience, or any other duty to it, or to the government created by it, except with his own consent.
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The word allegiance comes from the Latin words ad and ligo, signifying to bind to. Thus a man under allegiance to a government, is a man bound to it; or bound to yield it support and fidelity.
And governments, founded otherwise than on consent, hold that all persons born under them, are under allegiance to them; that is, are bound to render them support, fidelity, and obedience; and are traitors if they resist them. But it is obvious that, in truth and in fact, no one but himself can bind any one to support any government. And our Constitution admits this fact when it concedes that it derives its authority wholly from the consent of the people. And the word treason is to be understood in accordance with that idea.
It is conceded that a person of foreign birth comes under allegiance to our government only by special voluntary contract. If a native has allegiance imposed upon him, against his will, he is in a worse condition than the foreigner; for the latter can do as he pleases about assuming that obligation. The accepted interpretation of the Constitution, therefore, makes the foreigner a free person, on this point, while it makes the native a slave.
The only difference — if there be any — between natives and foreigners, in respect of allegiance, is, that a native has a right — offered to him by the Constitution — to come under allegiance to the government, if be so please; and thus entitle himself to membership in the body politic. His allegiance cannot be refused.
IV The Constitution certainly supposes that the crime of treason can be committed only by man, as an individual. It would be very curious to see a man indicted, convicted, or hanged, otherwise than as an individual; or accused of having committed his treason otherwise than as an individual.
And yet it is clearly impossible that any one can be personally guilty of treason, can be a traitor in fact, unless he, as an individual, has in some way voluntarily pledged his faith and fidelity to the government. Certainly no man, or body of men, could pledge it for him, without his consent; and no man, or body of men, have any right to presume it against him, when he has not pledged it, himself.
V It is plain, therefore, that if, when the Constitution says treason, it means treason — treason in fact, and nothing else — there is no ground at all for pretending that the Southern people have committed that crime. But if, on the other hand, when the Constitution says treason, it means what the Czar and the Kaiser mean by treason, then our government is, in principle, no better than theirs; and has no claim whatever to be considered a free government.
VI One essential of a free government is that it rest wholly on voluntary support. And one certain proof that a government is not free, is that it coerces more or less persons to support it, against their will. All governments, the worst on earth, and the most tyrannical on earth, are free governments to that portion of the people who voluntarily support them. And all governments though the best on earth in other respects — are nevertheless tyrannies to that portion of the people — whether few or many — who are compelled to support them against their will.
A government is like a church, or any other institution, in these respects. There is no other criterion whatever, by which to determine whether a government is a free one, or not, than the single one of its depending, or not depending, solely on voluntary support.
VII No middle ground is possible on this subject. If it is not, then any number of men, who choose, may at any time associate; call themselves a government; assume absolute authority over all weaker than themselves; plunder them at will; and kill them if they resist.
If, on the other hand, taxation without consent is robbery, it necessarily follows that every man who has not consented to be taxed, has the same natural right to defend his property against a taxgatherer, that he has to defend it against a highwayman. VIII It is perhaps unnecessary to say that the principles of this argument are as applicable to the State governments, as to the national one.
The opinions of the South, on the subjects of allegiance and treason, have been equally erroneous with those of the North. The only difference between them, has been, that the South has had that a man was primarily under involuntary allegiance to the State government; while the North held that he was primarily under a similar allegiance to the United States government; whereas, in truth, he was under no involuntary allegiance to either.
IX Obviously there can be no law of treason more stringent than has now been stated, consistently with political liberty. In the very nature of things there can never be any liberty for the weaker party, on any other principle; and political liberty always means liberty for the weaker party. It is only the weaker party that is ever oppressed. The strong are always free by virtue of their superior strength. So long as government is a mere contest as to which of two parties shall rule the other, the weaker must always succumb.
And whether the contest be carried on with ballots or bullets, the principle is the same; for under the theory of government now prevailing, the ballot either signifies a bullet, or it signifies nothing.
And no one can consistently use a ballot, unless he intends to use a bullet, if the latter should be needed to insure submission to the former. X The practical difficulty with our government has been, that most of those who have administered it, have taken it for granted that the Constitution, as it is written, was a thing of no importance; that it neither said what it meant, nor meant what it said; that it was gotten up by swindlers, as many of its authors doubtless were, who said a great many good things, which they did not mean, and meant a great many bad things, which they dared not say; that these men, under the false pretence of a government resting on the consent of the whole people, designed to entrap them into a government of a part; who should be powerful and fraudulent enough to cheat the weaker portion out of all the good things that were said, but not meant, and subject them to all the bad things that were meant, but not said.
And most of those who have administered the government, have assumed that all these swindling intentions were to be carried into effect, in the place of the written Constitution.
Of all these swindles, the treason swindle is the most flagitious. It is the most flagitious, because it is equally flagitious, in principle, with any; and it includes all the others. It is the instrumentality by which all the others are mode effective. A government that can at pleasure accuse, shoot, and hang men, as traitors, for the one general offence of refusing to surrender themselves and their property unreservedly to its arbitrary will, can practice any and all special and particular oppressions it pleases.
The result — and a natural one — has been that we have had governments, State and national, devoted to nearly every grade and species of crime that governments have ever practised upon their victims; and these crimes have culminated in a war that has cost a million of lives; a war carried on, upon one side, for chattel slavery, and on the other for political slavery; upon neither for liberty, justice, or truth.
And these crimes have been committed, and this war waged, y men, and the descendants of men, who, less than a hundred years ago, said that all men were equal, and could owe neither service to individuals, nor allegiance to governments, except with their own consent. Such a government is a mere conspiracy of the strong against the weak. It no more rests on consent than does the worst government on earth. What substitute for their consent is offered to the weaker party, whose rights are thus annihilated, struck out of existence, by the stronger?
Only this: Their consent is presumed! That is, these usurpers condescendingly and graciously presume that those whom they enslave, consent to surrender their all of life, liberty, and property into the hands of those who thus usurp dominion over them! And it is pretended that this presumption of their consent — when no actual consent has been given — is sufficient to save the rights of the victims, and to justify the usurpers! As well might the highwayman pretend to justify himself by presuming that the traveller consents to part with his money.
As well might the assassin justify himself by simply presuming that his victim consents to part with his life. As well the holder of chattel slaves to himself by presuming that they consent to his authority, and to the whips and the robbery which he practises upon them.
The presumption is simply a presumption that the weaker party consent to be slaves. Such is the presumption on which alone our government relies to justify the power it maintains over its unwilling subjects. And it was to establish that presumption as the inexorable and perpetual law of this country, that so much money and blood have been expended. For reasons not necessary to be explained, the sixth is now published in advance of the third, fourth, and fifth.
I The Constitution has no inherent authority or obligation. It has no authority or obligation at all, unless as a contract between man and man. And it does not so much as even purport to be a contract between persons now existing. It purports, at most, to be only a contract between persons living eighty years ago. And it can be supposed to have been a contract then only between persons who had already come to years of discretion, so as to be competent to make reasonable and obligatory contracts.
Furthermore, we know, historically, that only a small portion even of the people then existing were consulted on the subject, or asked, or permitted to express either their consent or dissent in any formal manner. Those persons, if any, who did give their consent formally, are all dead now.
Most of them have been dead forty, fifty, sixty, or seventy years. And the constitution, so far as it was their contract, died with them. They had no natural power or right to make it obligatory upon their children.
It is not only plainly impossible, in the nature of things, that they could bind their posterity, but they did not even attempt to bind them. Let us see.
Its language is: We, the people of the United States that is, the people then existing in the United States , in order to form a more perfect union, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.That two men have no more natural right to exercise any kind of authority over one, than one has to exercise the same authority over two.
For example, those who would use it for legal plunder , and those who do not really understand it, or else they would not support it. The Lysander Spooner Reader. His most persuasive argument on this topic is that if the signers of the constitution indeed wished to secure to posterity "the blessings of liberty," why would they then enslave them to this document, giving them no option but to be bound by it.
No Treason No. They may, with more reason, be supposed to have voted, not to support the Constitution, but specially to prevent the tyranny which they anticipate the successful candidate intends to practice upon them under color of the Constitution; and therefore may reasonably be supposed to have voted against the Constitution itself. If he refuses to comply, seize and sell enough of his property to pay not only our demands, but all your own expenses and trouble beside.
It purports, at most, to be only a contract between persons living eighty years ago.
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