It cannot be said that the Constitution formed 'the people of the United States,' for all time, into a corporation. It does not speak of 'the people' as a corporation, but as individuals. A corporation does not describe itself as 'we,' nor as 'people,' nor as 'ourselves.' Nor does a corporation, in legal language, have any 'posterity.'
The very idea of law originates in men's natural rights. There is no other standard, than natural rights, by which civil law can be measured. Law has always been the name of that rule or principle of justice, which protects those rights. Thus we speak of natural law.
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.
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 may be answered that the most despotic governments in the world rest upon that very principle, viz.: the consent of the strongest party.
If any man's money can be taken by a so-called government, without his own personal consent, all his other rights are taken with it; for with his money the government can, and will, hire soldiers to stand over him, compel him to submit to its arbitrary will, and kill him if he resists.
Doing a thing by law, or according to law, is only carrying the law into execution. And punishing a man by, or according to, the sentence or judgment of his peers, is only carrying that sentence or judgment into execution.
To measure prices by a currency that is called by the same names as gold, but that is really inferior in value to gold, and then - because those prices are nominally higher than gold prices - to say that they are inflated, relatively to gold, is a perfect absurdity.
Slavery is a wrong to each individual enslaved; and not merely to the first of a series. Natural law, therefore, as much forbids the enslaving of the child, as if the wrong of enslaving the parent had never been perpetrated.
The right of absolute and irresponsible dominion is the right of property, and the right of property is the right of absolute, irresponsible dominion. The two are identical; the one necessarily implying the other.
Vices are usually pleasurable, at least for the time being, and often do not disclose themselves as vices, by their effects, until after they have been practised for many years; perhaps for a lifetime.
A man's 'original and natural right' to make all contracts that are 'intrinsically obligatory,' and to coerce the fulfillment of them, is one of the most valuable and indispensable of all human possessions.
It is self-evident that no number of men, by conspiring, and calling themselves a government, can acquire any rights whatever over other men, or other men's property, which they had not before, as individuals.
But for their right to judge of the law, and the justice of the law, juries would be no protection to an accused person, even as to matters of fact; for, if the government can dictate to a jury any law whatever, in a criminal case, it can certainly dictate to them the laws of evidence.
The rescue of a person, who is assaulted, or restrained of his liberty, without authority of law, is not only morally, but legally, a meritorious act; for every body is under obligation to go to the assistance of one who is assailed by assassins, robbers, ravishers, kidnappers, or ruffians of any kind.
A man who is without capital, and who, by prohibitions upon banking, is practically forbidden to hire any, is in a condition elevated but one degree above that of a chattel slave. He may live; but he can live only as the servant of others; compelled to perform such labor, and to perform it at such prices, as they may see fit to dictate.
It is perfectly clear, in the first place, that the constitution of the United States did not, of itself, create or establish slavery as a new institution; or even give any authority to the state governments to establish it as a new institution. The greatest sticklers for slavery do not claim this.
Any government, that is its own judge of, and determines authoritatively for the people, what are its own powers over the people, is an absolute government of course. It has all the powers that it chooses to exercise. There is no other or at least no more accurate definition of a despotism than this.
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.
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.
The single despot stands out in the face of all men, and says: I am the State: My will is law: I am your master: I take the responsibility of my acts: The only arbiter I acknowledge is the sword: If any one denies my right, let him try conclusions with me.
It is with government paper, and bank paper, as it is with the paper of private persons; that is, it is worth just what can be delivered in redemption of it, and no more. We all understand that the notes of the Astors, and Stewarts, and Vanderbilts, though issued by millions, and tens of millions, are really worth their nominal values.
Any number of scoundrels, having money enough to start with, can establish themselves as a 'government'; because, with money, they can hire soldiers, and with soldiers extort more money; and also compel general obedience to their will.
What is the motive to the secret ballot? This, and only this: Like other confederates in crime, those who use it are not friends, but enemies; and they are afraid to be known, and to have their individual doings known, even to each other.
The imaginations of believers have dressed up and exaggerated the excellence of the style and matter of the New Testament generally, in the same manner, in which they have the moral instructions of Jesus.
Martyrdom is evidence only of a man's honesty - it is no evidence that he is not mistaken. Men have suffered martyrdom for all sorts of opinions in politics and in religion; yet they could not therefore have all been in the right; although they could give no stronger evidence that they believed themselves in the right.
All, or nearly all, the advantage there is in fixing any constitutional limits to the power of a government, is simply to give notice to the government of the point at which it will meet with resistance.
A man's natural rights are his own, against the whole world; and any infringement of them is equally a crime, whether committed by one man, or by millions; whether committed by one man, calling himself a robber, (or by any other name indicating his true character,) or by millions, calling themselves a government.
Now it is clear, that if the government can exclude, on account either of their opinions or feelings, any persons thus drawn by lot, the trial is no longer a trial by 'the country,' but only by a portion of the country.
There is perhaps not an enlightened Christian in America who, notwithstanding he may believe that, at the time of Jesus, men were possessed of devils, believes that they ever have been in any other instance, either before or since.
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.
Legally speaking, the term 'public rights' is as vague and indefinite as are the terms 'public health,' 'public good,' 'public welfare,' and the like. It has no legal meaning, except when used to describe the separate, private, individual rights of a greater or less number of individuals.
If the works of Jesus were so much more wonderful than man could perform as to deserve to be called miracles, was it not nonsense to caution his disciples so strongly against being deluded by the works of others?
The right and the physical power of the people to resist injustice, are really the only securities that any people ever can have for their liberties. Practically no government knows any limit to its power but the endurance of the people.
The trial by jury is a trial by 'the country,' in contradistinction to a trial by the government. The jurors are drawn by lot from the mass of the people, for the very purpose of having all classes of minds and feelings, that prevail among the people at large, represented in the jury.
To deprive mankind of their natural right and power of creating wealth for themselves, is as great a tyranny as it is to rob them of it after they have created it. And this is done by all laws against honest banking.
Now a slave is not 'held' by any legal contract, obligation, duty, or authority, which the laws will enforce. He is 'held' only by brute force. One person beats another until the latter will obey him, work for him, if he require it, or do nothing if he require it.
The apology, that is constantly put forth for the injustice of government, viz., that a man must consent to give up some of his rights, in order to have his other rights protected - involves a palpable absurdity, both legally and politically.