No Treason The Constitution of No Authority

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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. That is to say, the instrument does not purport to
be an agreement between any body but “the people” then
existing; nor does it, either expressly or impliedly, assert any
right, power, or disposition, on their part, to bind anybody but
themselves. 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 tranquillity, 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.

It is plain, in the first place, that this language, as an agreement,
purports to be only what it at most really was, viz., a contract
between the people then existing; and, of necessity, binding, as
a contract, only upon those then existing. In the second place,
the language neither expresses nor implies that they had any right
or power, to bind their “posterity” to live under it. It does not
say that their “posterity” will, shall, or must live under it. It
only says, in effect, that their hopes and motives in adopting it
were that it might prove useful to their posterity, as well as to
themselves, by promoting their union, safety, tranquillity, liberty,
etc.

Suppose an agreement were entered into, in this form:

We, the people of Boston, agree to maintain a fort on Governor’s
Island, to protect ourselves and our posterity against invasion.

This agreement, as an agreement, would clearly bind nobody but the
people then existing. Secondly, it would assert no right, power,
or disposition, on their part, to compel their “posterity” to maintain
such a fort. It would only indicate that the supposed welfare of
their posterity was one of the motives that induced the original
parties to enter into the agreement.

When a man says he is building a house for himself and his posterity,
he does not mean to be understood as saying that he has any thought
of binding them, nor is it to be inferred that he is so foolish
as to imagine that he has any right or power to bind them, to live
in it. So far as they are concerned, he only means to be understood
as saying that his hopes and motives, in building it, are that they,
or at least some of them, may find it for their happiness to live
in it.

So when a man says he is planting a tree for himself and his posterity,
he does not mean to be understood as saying that he has any thought
of compelling them, nor is it to be inferred that he is such a simpleton
as to imagine that he has any right or power to compel them, to
eat the fruit. So far as they are concerned, he only means to say
that his hopes and motives, in planting the tree, are that its fruit
may be agreeable to them.

So it was with those who originally adopted the Constitution. Whatever
may have been their personal intentions, the legal meaning of their
language, so far as their “posterity” was concerned, simply was,
that their hopes and motives, in entering into the agreement, were
that it might prove useful and acceptable to their posterity; that
it might promote their union, safety, tranquillity, and welfare;
and that it might tend “to secure to them the blessings of liberty.”
The language does not assert nor at all imply, any right, power,
or disposition, on the part of the original parties to the agreement,
to compel their “posterity” to live under it. If they had intended
to bind their posterity to live under it, they should have said
that their objective was, not “to secure to them the blessings of
liberty,” but to make slaves of them; for if their “posterity” are
bound to live under it, they are nothing less than the slaves of
their foolish, tyrannical, and dead grandfathers.

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.”
It supposes itself to have, and speaks of itself as having, perpetual
existence, as a single individuality.

Moreover, no body of men, existing at any one time, have the power
to create a perpetual corporation. A corporation can become practically
perpetual only by the voluntary accession of new members, as the
old ones die off. But for this voluntary accession of new members,
the corporation necessarily dies with the death of those who originally
composed it.

Legally speaking, therefore, there is, in the Constitution, nothing
that professes or attempts to bind the “posterity” of those who
established it.

If, then, those who established the Constitution, had no power to
bind, and did not attempt to bind, their posterity, the question
arises, whether their posterity have bound themselves. If they have
done so, they can have done so in only one or both of these two
ways, viz., by voting, and paying taxes.

II.

Let us consider these two matters, voting and tax paying, separately.
And first of voting.

All the voting that has ever taken place under the Constitution,
has been of such a kind that it not only did not pledge the whole
people to support the Constitution, but it did not even pledge any
one of them to do so, as the following considerations show.

1. In the very nature of things, the act of voting could bind nobody
but the actual voters. But owing to the property qualifications
required, it is probable that, during the first twenty or thirty
years under the Constitution, not more than one-tenth, fifteenth,
or perhaps twentieth of the whole population (black and white, men,
women, and minors) were permitted to vote. Consequently, so far
as voting was concerned, not more than one-tenth, fifteenth, or
twentieth of those then existing, could have incurred any obligation
to support the Constitution.

At the present time, it is probable that not more than one-sixth
of the whole population are permitted to vote. Consequently, so
far as voting is concerned, the other five-sixths can have given
no pledge that they will support the Constitution.

2. Of the one-sixth that are permitted to vote, probably not more
than two-thirds (about one-ninth of the whole population) have usually
voted. Many never vote at all. Many vote only once in two, three,
five, or ten years, in periods of great excitement.

No one, by voting, can be said to pledge himself for any longer
period than that for which he votes. If, for example, I vote for
an officer who is to hold his office for only a year, I cannot be
said to have thereby pledged myself to support the government beyond
that term. Therefore, on the ground of actual voting, it probably
cannot be said that more than one-ninth or one-eighth, of the whole
population are usually under any pledge to support the Constitution.

3. It cannot be said that, by voting, a man pledges himself to support
the Constitution, unless the act of voting be a perfectly voluntary
one on his part. Yet the act of voting cannot properly be called
a voluntary one on the part of any very large number of those who
do vote. It is rather a measure of necessity imposed upon them by
others, than one of their own choice. On this point I repeat what
was said in a former number, viz.:

“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 even 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 practice 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, he 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-defense, 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 takes
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-defense 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 meliorating 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 even consented to.

“Therefore,
a man’s voting under the Constitution of the United States, is
not to be taken as evidence that he ever freely assented to the
Constitution, even for the time being. 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 be disturbed or injured by others.”

As
we can have no legal knowledge as to who votes from choice, and
who from the necessity thus forced upon him, we can have no legal
knowledge, as to any particular individual, that he voted from choice;
or, consequently, that by voting, he consented, or pledged himself,
to support the government. Legally speaking, therefore, the act
of voting utterly fails to pledge any one to support the
government. It utterly fails to prove that the government rests
upon the voluntary support of anybody. On general principles of
law and reason, it cannot be said that the government has any voluntary
supporters at all, until it can be distinctly shown who its voluntary
supporters are.

4. As taxation is made compulsory on all, whether they vote or not,
a large proportion of those who vote, no doubt do so to prevent
their own money being used against themselves; when, in fact, they
would have gladly abstained from voting, if they could thereby have
saved themselves from taxation alone, to say nothing of being saved
from all the other usurpations and tyrannies of the government.
To take a man’s property without his consent, and then to infer
his consent because he attempts, by voting, to prevent that property
from being used to his injury, is a very insufficient proof of his
consent to support the Constitution. It is, in fact, no proof at
all. And as we can have no legal knowledge as to who the particular
individuals are, if there are any, who are willing to be taxed for
the sake of voting, we can have no legal knowledge that any particular
individual consents to be taxed for the sake of voting; or, consequently,
consents to support the Constitution.

5. At nearly all elections, votes are given for various candidates
for the same office. Those who vote for the unsuccessful candidates
cannot properly be said to have voted to sustain the Constitution.
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. This supposition
is the more reasonable, inasmuch as such voting is the only mode
allowed to them of expressing their dissent to the Constitution.

6. Many votes are usually given for candidates who have no prospect
of success. Those who give such votes may reasonably be supposed
to have voted as they did, with a special intention, not to support,
but to obstruct the execution of, the Constitution; and, therefore,
against the Constitution itself.

7. As all the different votes are given secretly (by secret ballot),
there is no legal means of knowing, from the votes themselves, who
votes for, and who votes against, the Constitution. Therefore, voting
affords no legal evidence that any particular individual supports
the Constitution. And where there can be no legal evidence that
any particular individual supports the Constitution, it cannot legally
be said that anybody supports it. It is clearly impossible to have
any legal proof of the intentions of large numbers of men, where
there can be no legal proof of the intentions of any particular
one of them.

8. There being no legal proof of any man’s intentions, in voting,
we can only conjecture them. As a conjecture, it is probable, that
a very large proportion of those who vote, do so on this principle,
viz., that if, by voting, they could but get the government into
their own hands (or that of their friends), and use its powers against
their opponents, they would then willingly support the Constitution;
but if their opponents are to have the power, and use it against
them, then they would not willingly support the Constitution.

In short, men’s voluntary support of the Constitution is doubtless,
in most cases, wholly contingent upon the question whether, by means
of the Constitution, they can make themselves masters, or are to
be made slaves.

Such contingent consent as that is, in law and reason, no consent
at all.

9. As everybody who supports the Constitution by voting (if there
are any such) does so secretly (by secret ballot), and in a way
to avoid all personal responsibility for the acts of his agents
or representatives, it cannot legally or reasonably be said that
anybody at all supports the Constitution by voting. No man can reasonably
or legally be said to do such a thing as assent to, or support,
the Constitution, unless he does it openly, and in a way to
make himself personally responsible for the acts of his agents,
so long as they act within the limits of the power he delegates
to them.

10. As all voting is secret (by secret ballot), and as all secret
governments are necessarily only secret bands of robbers, tyrants,
and murderers, the general fact that our government is practically
carried on by means of such voting, only proves that there is among
us a secret band of robbers, tyrants, and murderers, whose purpose
is to rob, enslave, and, so far as necessary to accomplish their
purposes, murder, the rest of the people. The simple fact of the
existence of such a band does nothing towards proving that “the
people of the United States,” or any one of them, voluntarily supports
the Constitution.

For all the reasons that have now been given, voting furnishes no
legal evidence as to who the particular individuals are (if there
are any), who voluntarily support the Constitution. It therefore
furnishes no legal evidence that anybody supports it voluntarily.

So far, therefore, as voting is concerned, the Constitution, legally
speaking, has no supporters at all.

And, as a matter of fact, there is not the slightest probability
that the Constitution has a single bona fide supporter in the country.
That is to say, there is not the slightest probability that there
is a single man in the country, who both understands what the Constitution
really is, and sincerely supports it for what it really is.

The ostensible supporters of the Constitution, like the ostensible
supporters of most other governments, are made up of three classes,
viz.: 1. Knaves, a numerous and active class, who see in the government
an instrument which they can use for their own aggrandizement or
wealth. 2. Dupes – a large class, no doubt – each of whom,
because he is allowed one voice out of millions in deciding what
he may do with his own person and his own property, and because
he is permitted to have the same voice in robbing, enslaving, and
murdering others, that others have in robbing, enslaving, and murdering
himself, is stupid enough to imagine that he is a “free man,” a
“sovereign”; that this is “a free government”; “a government of
equal rights,” “the best government on earth,” and such like absurdities.
3. A class who have some appreciation of the evils of government,
but either do not see how to get rid of them, or do not choose to
so far sacrifice their private interests as to give themselves seriously
and earnestly to the work of making a change.

III.

The
payment of taxes, being compulsory, of course furnishes no evidence
that any one voluntarily supports the Constitution.

1.
It is true that the theory of our Constitution is, that
all taxes are paid voluntarily; that our government is a mutual
insurance company, voluntarily entered into by the people with each
other; that each man makes a free and purely voluntary contract
with all others who are parties to the Constitution, to pay so much
money for so much protection, the same as he does with any other
insurance company; and that he is just as free not to be protected,
and not to pay tax, as he is to pay a tax, and be protected.

But
this theory of our government is wholly different from the practical
fact. The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to
a man: “Your money, or your life.” And many, if not most, taxes
are paid under the compulsion of that threat.

The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely place,
spring upon him from the roadside, and, holding a pistol to his
head, proceed to rifle his pockets. But the robbery is none the
less a robbery on that account; and it is far more dastardly and
shameful.

The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger,
and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful
claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit.
He does not pretend to be anything but a robber. He has not acquired
impudence enough to profess to be merely a “protector,” and that
he takes men’s money against their will, merely to enable him to
“protect” those infatuated travelers, who feel perfectly able to
protect themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system of
protection. He is too sensible a man to make such professions as
these. Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you
wish him to do. He does not persist in following you on the road,
against your will; assuming to be your rightful “sovereign,” on
account of the “protection” he affords you. He does not keep “protecting”
you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you
to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more
money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do
so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and an enemy to your
country, and shooting you down without mercy, if you dispute his
authority, or resist his demands. He is too much of a gentleman
to be guilty of such impostures, and insults, and villainies as
these. In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt
to make you either his dupe or his slave.

The proceedings of those robbers and murderers, who call themselves
“the government,” are directly the opposite of these of the single
highwayman.

In the first place, they do not, like him, make themselves individually
known; or, consequently, take upon themselves personally the responsibility
of their acts. On the contrary, they secretly (by secret ballot)
designate some one of their number to commit the robbery in their
behalf, while they keep themselves practically concealed. They say
to the person thus designated:

Go to A_____ B_____, and say to him that “the government” has need
of money to meet the expenses of protecting him and his property.
If he presumes to say that he has never contracted with us to protect
him, and that he wants none of our protection, say to him that that
is our business, and not his; that we choose to protect him, whether
he desires us to do so or not; and that we demand pay, too, for
protecting him. If he dares to inquire who the individuals are,
who have thus taken upon themselves the title of “the government,”
and who assume to protect him, and demand payment of him, without
his having ever made any contract with them, say to him that that,
too, is our business, and not his; that we do not choose
to make ourselves individually known to him; that we have
secretly (by secret ballot) appointed you our agent to give him
notice of our demands, and, if he complies with them, to give him,
in our name, a receipt that will protect him against any similar
demand for the present year. 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. If he resists the seizure
of his property, call upon the bystanders to help you (doubtless
some of them will prove to be members of our band.) If, in defending
his property, he should kill any of our band who are assisting you,
capture him at all hazards; charge him (in one of our courts) with
murder; convict him, and hang him. If he should call upon his neighbors,
or any others who, like him, may be disposed to resist our demands,
and they should come in large numbers to his assistance, cry out
that they are all rebels and traitors; that “our country” is in
danger; call upon the commander of our hired murderers; tell him
to quell the rebellion and “save the country,” cost what it may.
Tell him to kill all who resist, though they should be hundreds
of thousands; and thus strike terror into all others similarly disposed.
See that the work of murder is thoroughly done; that we may have
no further trouble of this kind hereafter. When these traitors shall
have thus been taught our strength and our determination, they will
be good loyal citizens for many years, and pay their taxes without
a why or a wherefore.

It is under such compulsion as this that taxes, so called, are paid.
And how much proof the payment of taxes affords, that the people
consent to “support the government,” it needs no further argument
to show.

2. Still another reason why the payment of taxes implies no consent,
or pledge, to support the government, is that the taxpayer does
not know, and has no means of knowing, who the particular individuals
are who compose “the government.” To him “the government” is a myth,
an abstraction, an in corporeality, with which he can make no contract,
and to which he can give no consent, and make no pledge. He knows
it only through its pretended agents. “The government” itself he
never sees. He knows indeed, by common report, that certain persons,
of a certain age, are permitted to vote; and thus to make themselves
parts of, or (if they choose) opponents of, the government, for
the time being. But who of them do thus vote, and especially how
each one votes (whether so as to aid or oppose the government),
he does not know; the voting being all done secretly (by secret
ballot). Who, therefore, practically compose “the government,” for
the time being, he has no means of knowing. Of course he can make
no contract with them, give them no consent, and make them no pledge.
Of necessity, therefore, his paying taxes to them implies, on his
part, no contract, consent, or pledge to support them – that
is, to support “the government,” or the Constitution.

3. Not knowing who the particular individuals are, who call themselves
“the government,” the taxpayer does not know whom he pays his taxes
to. All he knows is that a man comes to him, representing himself
to be the agent of “the government” – that is, the agent of
a secret band of robbers and murderers, who have taken to themselves
the title of “the government,” and have determined to kill everybody
who refuses to give them whatever money they demand. To save his
life, he gives up his money to this agent. But as this agent does
not make his principals individually known to the taxpayer, the
latter, after he has given up his money, knows no more who are “the
government” – that is, who were the robbers – than he
did before. To say, therefore, that by giving up his money to their
agent, he entered into a voluntary contract with them, that he pledges
himself to obey them, to support them, and to give them whatever
money they should demand of him in the future, is simply ridiculous.

4. All political power, so called, rests practically upon this matter
of money. 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. It is with government,
as Caesar said it was in war, that money and soldiers mutually supported
each other; that with money he could hire soldiers, and with soldiers
extort money. So these villains, who call themselves governments,
well understand that their power rests primarily upon money. With
money they can hire soldiers, and with soldiers extort money. And,
when their authority is denied, the first use they always make of
money, is to hire soldiers to kill or subdue all who refuse them
more money.

For this reason, whoever desires liberty, should understand these
vital facts, viz.: 1. That every man who puts money into the hands
of a “government” (so called), puts into its hands a sword which
will be used against him, to extort more money from him, and also
to keep him in subjection to its arbitrary will. 2. That those who
will take his money, without his consent, in the first place, will
use it for his further robbery and enslavement, if he presumes to
resist their demands in the future. 3. That it is a perfect absurdity
to suppose that any body of men would ever take a man’s money without
his consent, for any such object as they profess to take it for,
viz., that of protecting him; for why should they wish to protect
him, if he does not wish them to do so? To suppose that they would
do so, is just as absurd as it would be to suppose that they would
take his money without his consent, for the purpose of buying food
or clothing for him, when he did not want it. 4. If a man wants
“protection,” he is competent to make his own bargains for it; and
nobody has any occasion to rob him, in order to “protect” him against
his will. 5. That the only security men can have for their political
liberty, consists in their keeping their money in their own pockets,
until they have assurances, perfectly satisfactory to themselves,
that it will be used as they wish it to be used, for their benefit,
and not for their injury. 6. That no government, so called, can
reasonably be trusted for a moment, or reasonably be supposed to
have honest purposes in view, any longer than it depends wholly
upon voluntary support.

These facts are all so vital and so self-evident, that it cannot
reasonably be supposed that any one will voluntarily pay money to
a “government,” for the purpose of securing its protection, unless
he first make an explicit and purely voluntary contract with it
for that purpose.

It is perfectly evident, therefore, that neither such voting, nor
such payment of taxes, as actually takes place, proves anybody’s
consent, or obligation, to support the Constitution. Consequently
we have no evidence at all that the Constitution is binding upon
anybody, or that anybody is under any contract or obligation whatever
to support it. And nobody is under any obligation to support it.

IV.

The
constitution not only binds nobody now, but it never did bind anybody.
It never bound anybody, because it was never agreed to by anybody
in such a manner as to make it, on general principles of law and
reason, binding upon him.

It is a general principle of law and reason, that a written
instrument binds no one until he has signed it. This principle is
so inflexible a one, that even though a man is unable to write his
name, he must still “make his mark,” before he is bound by a written
contract. This custom was established ages ago, when few men could
write their names; when a clerk – that is, a man who could
write – was so rare and valuable a person, that even if he
were guilty of high crimes, he was entitled to pardon, on the ground
that the public could not afford to lose his services. Even at that
time, a written contract must be signed; and men who could not write,
either “made their mark,” or signed their contracts by stamping
their seals upon wax affixed to the parchment on which their contracts
were written. Hence the custom of affixing seals, that has continued
to this time.

The laws holds, and reason declares, that if a written instrument
is not signed, the presumption must be that the party to be bound
by it, did not choose to sign it, or to bind himself by it. And
law and reason both give him until the last moment, in which to
decide whether he will sign it, or not. Neither law nor reason requires
or expects a man to agree to an instrument, until it is written;
for until it is written, he cannot know its precise legal meaning.
And when it is written, and he has had the opportunity to satisfy
himself of its precise legal meaning, he is then expected to decide,
and not before, whether he will agree to it or not. And if he do
not then sign it, his reason is supposed to be, that he
does not choose to enter into such a contract. The fact that the
instrument was written for him to sign, or with the hope that he
would sign it, goes for nothing.

Where would be the end of fraud and litigation, if one party could
bring into court a written instrument, without any signature, and
claim to have it enforced, upon the ground that it was written for
another man to sign? that this other man had promised to sign it?
that he ought to have signed it? that he had had the opportunity
to sign it, if he would? but that he had refused or neglected to
do so? Yet that is the most that could ever be said of the Constitution.
The very judges, who profess to derive all their authority from
the Constitution – from an instrument that nobody ever signed
– would spurn any other instrument, not signed, that should
be brought before them for adjudication.

Moreover, a written instrument must, in law and reason, not only
be signed, but must also be delivered to the party (or to some one
for him), in whose favor it is made, before it can bind the party
making it. The signing is of no effect, unless the instrument be
also delivered. And a party is at perfect liberty to refuse to deliver
a written instrument, after he has signed it. The Constitution was
not only never signed by anybody, but it was never delivered by
anybody, or to anybody’s agent or attorney. It can therefore be
of no more validity as a contract, then can any other instrument
that was never signed or delivered.

V.

As further evidence of the general sense of mankind, as to the practical
necessity there is that all men’s important contracts,
especially those of a permanent nature, should be both written and
signed, the following facts are pertinent.

For nearly two hundred years – that is, since 1677 – there
has been on the statute book of England, and the same, in substance,
if not precisely in letter, has been re-enacted, and is now in force,
in nearly or quite all the States of this Union, a statute, the
general object of which is to declare that no action shall be brought
to enforce contracts of the more important class, unless they
are put in writing, and signed by the parties to be held chargeable
upon them.

The principle of the statute, be it observed, is, not merely that
written contracts shall be signed, but also that all contracts,
except for those specially exempted – generally those that
are for small amounts, and are to remain in force for but a short
time – shall be both written and signed.

The reason of the statute, on this point, is, that it is now so
easy a thing for men to put their contracts in writing, and sign
them, and their failure to do so opens the door to so much doubt,
fraud, and litigation, that men who neglect to have their contracts
– of any considerable importance – written and signed,
ought not to have the benefit of courts of justice to enforce them.
And this reason is a wise one; and that experience has confirmed
its wisdom and necessity, is demonstrated by the fact that it has
been acted upon in England for nearly two hundred years, and has
been so nearly universally adopted in this country, and that nobody
thinks of repealing it.

We all know, too, how careful most men are to have their contracts
written and signed, even when this statute does not require it.
For example, most men, if they have money due them, of no larger
amount than five or ten dollars, are careful to take a note for
it. If they buy even a small bill of goods, paying for it at the
time of delivery, they take a receipted bill for it. If they pay
a small balance of a book account, or any other small debt previously
contracted, they take a written receipt for it.

Furthermore, the law everywhere (probably) in our country, as well
as in England, requires that a large class of contracts, such as
wills, deeds, etc., shall not only be written and signed, but also
sealed, witnessed, and acknowledged. And in the case of married
women conveying their rights in real estate, the law, in many States,
requires that the women shall be examined separate and apart from
their husbands, and declare that they sign their contracts free
of any fear or compulsion of their husbands.

Such are some of the precautions which the laws require, and which
individuals – from motives of common prudence, even in cases
not required by law – take, to put their contracts in writing,
and have them signed, and, to guard against all uncertainties and
controversies in regard to their meaning and validity. And yet we
have what purports, or professes, or is claimed, to be a contract
– the Constitution – made eighty years ago, by men who
are now all dead, and who never had any power to bind US, but which
(it is claimed) has nevertheless bound three generations of men,
consisting of many millions, and which (it is claimed) will be binding
upon all the millions that are to come; but which nobody ever signed,
sealed, delivered, witnessed, or acknowledged; and which few persons,
compared with the whole number that are claimed to be bound by it,
have ever read, or even seen, or ever will read, or see. And of
those who ever have read it, or ever will read it, scarcely any
two, perhaps no two, have ever agreed, or ever will agree, as to
what it means.

Moreover, this supposed contract, which would not be received in
any court of justice sitting under its authority, if offered to
prove a debt of five dollars, owing by one man to another, is one
by which – as it is generally interpreted by those who
pretend to administer it – all men, women and children
throughout the country, and through all time, surrender not only
all their property, but also their liberties, and even lives, into
the hands of men who by this supposed contract, are expressly made
wholly irresponsible for their disposal of them. And we are so insane,
or so wicked, as to destroy property and lives without limit, in
fighting to compel men to fulfill a supposed contract, which, inasmuch
as it has never been signed by anybody, is, on general principles
of law and reason – such principles as we are all governed
by in regard to other contracts – the merest waste of paper,
binding upon nobody, fit only to be thrown into the fire; or, if
preserved, preserved only to serve as a witness and a warning of
the folly and wickedness of mankind.

VI.

It is no exaggeration, but a literal truth, to say that, by the
Constitution – not as i interpret it, but as it is interpreted
by those who pretend to administer it – the properties,
liberties, and lives of the entire people of the United States are
surrendered unreservedly into the hands of men who, it is provided
by the Constitution itself, shall never be “questioned” as to any
disposal they make of them.

Thus the Constitution (Art. I, Sec. 6) provides that, “for any speech
or debate (or vote), in either house, they (the senators and representatives)
shall not be questioned in any other place.”

The whole law-making power is given to these senators and representatives
(when acting by a two-thirds vote); and this provision protects
them from all responsibility for the laws they make.

The Constitution also enables them to secure the execution of all
their laws, by giving them power to withhold the salaries of, and
to impeach and remove, all judicial and executive officers, who
refuse to execute them.

Thus the whole power of the government is in their hands, and they
are made utterly irresponsible for the use they make of it. What
is this but absolute, irresponsible power?

It is no answer to this view of the case to say that these men are
under oath to use their power only within certain limits; for what
care they, or what should they care, for oaths or limits, when it
is expressly provided, by the Constitution itself, that they shall
never be “questioned,” or held to any responsibility whatever, for
violating their oaths, or transgressing those limits?

Neither is it any answer to this view of the case to say that the
men holding this absolute, irresponsible power, must be men chosen
by the people (or portions of them) to hold it. A man is none the
less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in
a term of years. Neither are a people any the less slaves because
permitted periodically to choose new masters. What makes them slaves
is the fact that they now are, and are always hereafter to be, in
the hands of men whose power over them is, and always is to be,
absolute and irresponsible.

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 implies the
other. Neither can exist without the other. If, therefore, Congress
have that absolute and irresponsible law-making power, which the
Constitution – according to their interpretation of it –
gives them, it can only be because they own us as property. If they
own us as property, they are our masters, and their will is our
law. If they do not own us as property, they are not our masters,
and their will, as such, is of no authority over us.

But these men who claim and exercise this absolute and irresponsible
dominion over us, dare not be consistent, and claim either to be
our masters, or to own us as property. They say they are only our
servants, agents, attorneys, and representatives. But this declaration
involves an absurdity, a contradiction. No man can be my servant,
agent, attorney, or representative, and be, at the same time, uncontrollable
by me, and irresponsible to me for his acts. It is of no importance
that I appointed him, and put all power in his hands. If I made
him uncontrollable by me, and irresponsible to me, he is no longer
my servant, agent, attorney, or representative. If I gave him absolute,
irresponsible power over my property, I gave him the property. If
I gave him absolute, irresponsible power over myself, I made him
my master, and gave myself to him as a slave. And it is of no importance
whether I called him master or servant, agent or owner. The only
question is, what power did I put in his hands? Was it an absolute
and irresponsible one? or a limited and responsible one?

For still another reason they are neither our servants, agents,
attorneys, nor representatives. And that reason is, that we do not
make ourselves responsible for their acts. If a man is my servant,
agent, or attorney, I necessarily make myself responsible for all
his acts done within the limits of the power I have entrusted to
him. If I have entrusted him, as my agent, with either absolute
power, or any power at all, over the persons or properties of other
men than myself, I thereby necessarily make myself responsible to
those other persons for any injuries he may do them, so long as
he acts within the limits of the power I have granted him. But no
individual who may be injured in his person or property, by acts
of Congress, can come to the individual electors, and hold them
responsible for these acts of their so-called agents or representatives.
This fact proves that these pretended agents of the people, of everybody,
are really the agents of nobody.

If, then, nobody is individually responsible for the acts of Congress,
the members of Congress are nobody’s agents. And if they are nobody’s
agents, they are themselves individually responsible for their own
acts, and for the acts of all whom they employ. And the authority
they are exercising is simply their own individual authority; and,
by the law of nature – the highest of all laws – anybody
injured by their acts, anybody who is deprived by them of his property
or his liberty, has the same right to hold them individually responsible,
that he has to hold any other trespasser individually responsible.
He has the same right to resist them, and their agents, that he
has to resist any other trespassers.

VII.

It is plain, then, that on general principles of law and reason
– such principles as we all act upon in courts of justice and
in common life – the Constitution is no contract; that it binds
nobody, and never did bind anybody; and that all those who pretend
to act by its authority, are really acting without any legitimate
authority at all; that, on general principles of law and reason,
they are mere usurpers, and that everybody not only has the right,
but is morally bound, to treat them as such.

If the people of this country wish to maintain such a government
as the Constitution describes, there is no reason in the world why
they should not sign the instrument itself, and thus make known
their wishes in an open, authentic manner; in such manner as the
common sense and experience of mankind have shown to be reasonable
and necessary in such cases; and in such manner as to make themselves
(as they ought to do) individually responsible for the acts of the
government. But the people have never been asked to sign it.
And the only reason why they have never been asked to sign it, has
been that it has been known that they never would sign it; that
they were neither such fools nor knaves as they must needs have
been to be willing to sign it; that (at least as it has been practically
interpreted) it is not what any sensible and honest man wants for
himself; nor such as he has any right to impose upon others. It
is, to all moral intents and purposes, as destitute of obligations
as the compacts which robbers and thieves and pirates enter into
with each other, but never sign.

If any considerable number of the people believe the Constitution
to be good, why do they not sign it themselves, and make laws for,
and administer them upon, each other; leaving all other persons
(who do not interfere with them) in peace? Until they have tried
the experiment for themselves, how can they have the face to impose
the Constitution upon, or even to recommend it to, others? Plainly
the reason for absurd and inconsistent conduct is that they want
the Constitution, not solely for any honest or legitimate use it
can be of to themselves or others, but for the dishonest and illegitimate
power it gives them over the persons and properties of others. But
for this latter reason, all their eulogiums on the Constitution,
all their exhortations, and all their expenditures of money and
blood to sustain it, would be wanting.

VIII.

The Constitution itself, then, being of no authority, on what authority
does our government practically rest? On what ground can those who
pretend to administer it, claim the right to seize men’s property,
to restrain them of their natural liberty of action, industry, and
trade, and to kill all who deny their authority to dispose of men’s
properties, liberties, and lives at their pleasure or discretion?

The most they can say, in answer to this question, is, that some
half, two-thirds, or three-fourths, of the male adults of the country
have a tacit understanding that they will maintain a government
under the Constitution; that they will select, by ballot, the persons
to administer it; and that those persons who may receive a majority,
or a plurality, of their ballots, shall act as their representatives,
and administer the Constitution in their name, and by their authority.

But this tacit understanding (admitting it to exist) cannot at all
justify the conclusion drawn from it. A tacit understanding between
A, B, and C, that they will, by ballot, depute D as their agent,
to deprive me of my property, liberty, or life, cannot at all authorize
D to do so. He is none the less a robber, tyrant, and murderer,
because he claims to act as their agent, than he would be if he
avowedly acted on his own responsibility alone.

Neither am I bound to recognize him as their agent, nor can he legitimately
claim to be their agent, when he brings no written authority
from them accrediting him as such. I am under no obligation to take
his word as to who his principals may be, or whether he has any.
Bringing no credentials, I have a right to say he has no such authority
even as he claims to have: and that he is therefore intending to
rob, enslave, or murder me on his own account.

This tacit understanding, therefore, among the voters of the country,
amounts to nothing as an authority to their agents. Neither do the
ballots by which they select their agents, avail any more than does
their tacit understanding; for their ballots are given in secret,
and therefore in such a way as to avoid any personal responsibility
for the acts of their agents.

No body of men can be said to authorize a man to act as their agent,
to the injury of a third person, unless they do it in so open and
authentic a manner as to make themselves personally responsible
for his acts. None of the voters in this country appoint their political
agents in any open, authentic manner, or in any manner to make themselves
responsible for their acts. Therefore these pretended agents cannot
legitimately claim to be really agents. Somebody must be responsible
for the acts of these pretended agents; and if they cannot show
any open and authentic credentials from their principals, they cannot,
in law or reason, be said to have any principals.

The maxim applies here, that what does not appear, does not exist.
If they can show no principals, they have none.

But even these pretended agents do not themselves know who their
pretended principals are. These latter act in secret; for acting
by secret ballot is acting in secret as much as if they were to
meet in secret conclave in the darkness of the night. And they are
personally as much unknown to the agents they select, as they are
to others. No pretended agent therefore can ever know by whose ballots
he is selected, or consequently who his real principles are. Not
knowing who his principles are, he has no right to say that he has
any. He can, at most, say only that he is the agent of a secret
band of robbers and murderers, who are bound by that faith which
prevails among confederates in crime, to stand by him, if his acts,
done in their name, shall be resisted.

Men honestly engaged in attempting to establish justice in the world,
have no occasion thus to act in secret; or to appoint agents to
do acts for which they (the principals) are not willing to be responsible.

The secret ballot makes a secret government; and a secret government
is a secret band of robbers and murderers. Open despotism is better
than this. 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 anyone denies my right, let him try conclusions with
me.

But a secret government is little less than a government of assassins.
Under it, a man knows not who his tyrants are, until they have struck,
and perhaps not then. He may guess, beforehand, as to some
of his immediate neighbors. But he really knows nothing. The man
to whom he would most naturally fly for protection, may prove an
enemy, when the time of trial comes.

This is the kind of government we have; and it is the only one we
are likely to have, until men are ready to say: We will consent
to no Constitution, except such an one as we are neither ashamed
nor afraid to sign; and we will authorize no government to do anything
in our name which we are not willing to be personally responsible
for.

IX.

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. They can contrive to bring about
a sufficient understanding to enable them to act in concert against
other persons; but beyond this they have no confidence, and no friendship,
among themselves. In fact, they are engaged quite as much in schemes
for plundering each other, as in plundering those who are not of
them. And it is perfectly well understood among them that the strongest
party among them will, in certain contingencies, murder each other
by the hundreds of thousands (as they lately did do) to accomplish
their purposes against each other. Hence they dare not be known,
and have their individual doings known, even to each other. And
this is avowedly the only reason for the ballot: for a secret government;
a government by secret bands of robbers and murderers. And we are
insane enough to call this liberty! To be a member of this secret
band of robbers and murderers is esteemed a privilege and an honor!
Without this privilege, a man is considered a slave; but with it
a free man! With it he is considered a free man, because he has
the same power to secretly (by secret ballot) procure the robbery,
enslavement, and murder of another man, and that other man has to
procure his robbery, enslavement, and murder. And this they call
equal rights!

If any number of men, many or few, claim the right to govern the
people of this country, let them make and sign an open compact with
each other to do so. Let them thus make themselves individually
known to those whom they propose to govern. And let them thus openly
take the legitimate responsibility of their acts. How many of those
who now support the Constitution, will ever do this? How many will
ever dare openly proclaim their right to govern? or take the legitimate
responsibility of their acts? Not one!

X.

It is obvious that, on general principles of law and reason, there
exists no such thing as a government created by, or resting upon,
any consent, compact, or agreement of “the people of the United
States” with each other; that the only visible, tangible, responsible
government that exists, is that of a few individuals only, who act
in concert, and call themselves by the several names of senators,
representatives, presidents, judges, marshals, treasurers, collectors,
generals, colonels, captains, etc., etc.

On general principles of law and reason, it is of no importance
whatever that these few individuals profess to be the agents and
representatives of “the people of the United States”; since they
can show no credentials from the people themselves; they were never
appointed as agents or representatives in any open, authentic manner;
they do not themselves know, and have no means of knowing, and cannot
prove, who their principals (as they call them) are individually;
and consequently cannot, in law or reason, be said to have any principals
at all.

It is obvious, too, that if these alleged principals ever did appoint
these pretended agents, or representatives, they appointed them
secretly (by secret ballot), and in a way to avoid all personal
responsibility for their acts; that, at most, these alleged principals
put these pretended agents forward for the most criminal purposes,
viz.: to plunder the people of their property, and restrain them
of their liberty; and that the only authority that these alleged
principals have for so doing, is simply a tacit understanding
among themselves that they will imprison, shoot, or hang every man
who resists the exactions and restraints which their agents or representatives
may impose upon them.

Thus it is obvious that the only visible, tangible government we
have is made up of these professed agents or representatives of
a secret band of robbers and murderers, who, to cover up, or gloss
over, their robberies and murders, have taken to themselves the
title of “the people of the United States”; and who, on the pretense
of being “the people of the United States,” assert their right to
subject to their dominion, and to control and dispose of at their
pleasure, all property and persons found in the United States.

XI.

On general principles of law and reason, the oaths which these pretended
agents of the people take “to support the Constitution,” are of
no validity or obligation. And why? For this, if for no other reason,
viz., that they are given to nobody. There is no privity
(as the lawyers say) – that is, no mutual recognition, consent,
and agreement – between those who take these oaths, and any
other persons.

If I go upon Boston Common, and in the presence of a hundred thousand
people, men, women and children, with whom I have no contract upon
the subject, take an oath that I will enforce upon them the laws
of Moses, of Lycurgus, of Solon, of Justinian, or of Alfred, that
oath is, on general principles of law and reason, of no obligation.
It is of no obligation, not merely because it is intrinsically a
criminal one, but also because it is given to nobody, and
consequently pledges my faith to nobody. It is merely given to the
winds.

It would not alter the case at all to say that, among these hundred
thousand persons, in whose presence the oath was taken, there were
two, three, or five thousand male adults, who had secretly
– by secret ballot, and in a way to avoid making themselves
individually known to me, or to the remainder of the hundred
thousand – designated me as their agent to rule, control, plunder,
and, if need be, murder, these hundred thousand people. The fact
that they had designated me secretly, and in a manner to prevent
my knowing them individually, prevents all privity between them
and me; and consequently makes it impossible that there can be any
contract, or pledge of faith, on my part towards them; for it is
impossible that I can pledge my faith, in any legal sense, to a
man whom I neither know, nor have any means of knowing, individually.

So far as I am concerned, then, these two, three, or five thousand
persons are a secret band of robbers and murderers, who have secretly,
and in a way to save themselves from all responsibility for my acts,
designated me as their agent; and have, through some other agent,
or pretended agent, made their wishes known to me. But being, nevertheless,
individually unknown to me, and having no open, authentic contract
with me, my oath is, on general principles of law and reason, of
no validity as a pledge of faith to them. And being no pledge of
faith to them, it is no pledge of faith to anybody. It is mere idle
wind. At most, it is only a pledge of faith to an unknown band of
robbers and murderers, whose instrument for plundering and murdering
other people, I thus publicly confess myself to be. And it has no
other obligation than a similar oath given to any other unknown
body of pirates, robbers, and murderers.

For these reasons the oaths taken by members of Congress, “to support
the Constitution,” are, on general principles of law and reason,
of no validity. They are not only criminal in themselves, and therefore
void; but they are also void for the further reason that they
are given to nobody.

It cannot be said that, in any legitimate or legal sense, they are
given to “the people of the United States”; because neither the
whole, nor any large proportion of the whole, people of the United
States ever, either openly or secretly, appointed or designated
these men as their agents to carry the Constitution
into effect. The great body of the people – that is, men, women,
and children – were never asked, or even permitted, to signify,
in any formal manner, either openly or secretly, their
choice or wish on the subject. The most that these members of Congress
can say, in favor of their appointment, is simply this: Each one
can say for himself:

I have evidence satisfactory to myself, that there exists, scattered
throughout the country, a band of men, having a tacit understanding
with each other, and calling themselves “the people of the United
States,” whose general purposes are to control and plunder each
other, and all other persons in the country, and, so far as they
can, even in neighboring countries; and to kill every man who shall
attempt to defend his person and property against their schemes
of plunder and dominion. Who these men are, individually,
I have no certain means of knowing, for they sign no papers, and
give no open, authentic evidence of their individual membership.
They are not known individually even to each other. They are apparently
as much afraid of being individually known to each other, as of
being known to other persons. Hence they ordinarily have no mode
either of exercising, or of making known, their individual membership,
otherwise than by giving their votes secretly for certain agents
to do their will.

But although these men are individually unknown, both to each other
and to other persons, it is generally understood in the country
that none but male persons, of the age of twenty-one years and upwards,
can be members. It is also generally understood that all
male persons, born in the country, having certain complexions, and
(in some localities) certain amounts of property, and (in certain
cases) even persons of foreign birth, are permitted to
be members. But it appears that usually not more than one half,
two-thirds, or in some cases, three-fourths, of all who are thus
permitted to become members of the band, ever exercise, or consequently
prove, their actual membership, in the only mode in which they ordinarily
can exercise or prove it, viz., by giving their votes secretly for
the officers or agents of the band. The number of these secret votes,
so far as we have any account of them, varies greatly from year
to year, thus tending to prove that the band, instead of being a
permanent organization, is a merely pro tempore affair
with those who choose to act with it for the time being.

The gross number of these secret votes, or what purports to be their
gross number, in different localities, is occasionally published.
Whether these reports are accurate or not, we have no means of knowing.
It is generally supposed that great frauds are often committed in
depositing them. They are understood to be received and counted
by certain men, who are themselves appointed for that purpose by
the same secret process by which all other officers and agents of
the band are selected. According to the reports of these receivers
of votes (for whose accuracy or honesty, however, I cannot vouch),
and according to my best knowledge of the whole number of male persons
“in my district,” who (it is supposed) were permitted to vote, it
would appear that one-half, two-thirds or three-fourths actually
did vote. Who the men were, individually, who cast these votes,
I have no knowledge, for the whole thing was done secretly. But
of the secret votes thus given for what they call a “member of Congress,”
the receivers reported that I had a majority, or at least a larger
number than any other one person. And it is only by virtue of such
a designation that I am now here to act in concert with other persons
similarly selected in other parts of the country.

It is understood among those who sent me here, that all persons
so selected, will, on coming together at the City of Washington,
take an oath in each other’s presence “to support the Constitution
of the United States.” By this is meant a certain paper that was
drawn up eighty years ago. It was never signed by anybody, and apparently
has no obligation, and never had any obligation, as a contract.
In fact, few persons ever read it, and doubtless much the largest
number of those who voted for me and the others, never even saw
it, or now pretend to know what it means. Nevertheless, it is often
spoken of in the country as “the Constitution of the United States”;
and for some reason or other, the men who sent me here, seem to
expect that I, and all with whom I act, will swear to carry this
Constitution into effect. I am therefore ready to take this oath,
and to co-operate with all others, similarly selected, who are ready
to take the same oath.

This is the most that any member of Congress can say in proof that
he has any constituency; that he represents anybody; that his oath
“to support the Constitution,” is given to anybody, or
pledges his faith to anybody. He has no open, written,
or other authentic evidence, such as is required in all other cases,
that he was ever appointed the agent or representative of anybody.
He has no written power of attorney from any single individual.
He has no such legal knowledge as is required in all other cases,
by which he can identify a single one of those who pretend to have
appointed him to represent them.

Of course his oath, professedly given to them, “to support the Constitution,”
is, on general principles of law and reason, an oath given to nobody.
It pledges his faith to nobody. If he fails to fulfill his oath,
not a single person can come forward, and say to him, you have betrayed
me, or broken faith with me.

No one can come forward and say to him: I appointed you my attorney
to act for me. I required you to swear that, as my attorney, you
would support the Constitution. You promised me that you would do
so; and now you have forfeited the oath you gave to me. No single
individual can say this.

No open, avowed, or responsible association, or body of men, can
come forward and say to him: We appointed you our attorney, to act
for us. We required you to swear that, as our attorney, you would
support the Constitution. You promised us that you would do so;
and now you have forfeited the oath you gave to us.

No open, avowed, or responsible association, or body of men, can
say this to him; because there is no such association or body of
men in existence. If any one should assert that there is such an
association, let him prove, if he can, who compose it. Let him produce,
if he can, any open, written, or other authentic contract, signed
or agreed to by these men; forming themselves into an association;
making themselves known as such to the world; appointing him as
their agent; and making themselves individually, or as an association,
responsible for his acts, done by their authority. Until all this
can be shown, no one can say that, in any legitimate sense, there
is any such association; or that he is their agent; or that he ever
gave his oath to them; or ever pledged his faith to them.

On general principles of law and reason, it would be a sufficient
answer for him to say, to all individuals, and to all pretended
associations of individuals, who should accuse him of a breach of
faith to them:

I never knew you. Where is your evidence that you, either individually
or collectively, ever appointed me your attorney? that you ever
required me to swear to you, that, as your attorney, I would support
the Constitution? or that I have now broken any faith that I ever
pledged to you? You may, or you may not, be members of that secret
band of robbers and murderers, who act in secret; appoint their
agents by a secret ballot; who keep themselves individually unknown
even to the agents they thus appoint; and who, therefore, cannot
claim that they have any agents; or that any of their pretended
agents ever gave his oath, or pledged his faith to them. I repudiate
you altogether. My oath was given to others, with whom you have
nothing to do; or it was idle wind, given only to the idle winds.
Begone!

XII.

For the same reasons, the oaths of all the other pretended agents
of this secret band of robbers and murderers are, on general principles
of law and reason, equally destitute of obligation. They are given
to nobody; but only to the winds.

The oaths of the tax-gatherers and treasurers of the band, are,
on general principles of law and reason, of no validity. If any
tax gatherer, for example, should put the money he receives into
his own pocket, and refuse to part with it, the members of this
band could not say to him: You collected that money as our agent,
and for our uses; and you swore to pay it over to us, or to those
we should appoint to receive it. You have betrayed us, and broken
faith with us.

It would be a sufficient answer for him to say to them:

I never knew you. You never made yourselves individually known to
me. I never game by oath to you, as individuals. You may, or you
may not, be members of that secret band, who appoint agents to rob
and murder other people; but who are cautious not to make themselves
individually known, either to such agents, or to those whom their
agents are commissioned to rob. If you are members of that band,
you have given me no proof that you ever commissioned me to rob
others for your benefit. I never knew you, as individuals, and of
course never promised you that I would pay over to you the proceeds
of my robberies. I committed my robberies on my own account, and
for my own profit. If you thought I was fool enough to allow you
to keep yourselves concealed, and use me as your tool for robbing
other persons; or that I would take all the personal risk of the
robberies, and pay over the proceeds to you, you were particularly
simple. As I took all the risk of my robberies, I propose to take
all the profits. Begone! You are fools, as well as villains. If
I gave my oath to anybody, I gave it to other persons than you.
But I really gave it to nobody. I only gave it to the winds. It
answered my purposes at the time. It enabled me to get the money
I was after, and now I propose to keep it. If you expected me to
pay it over to you, you relied only upon that honor that is said
to prevail among thieves. You now understand that that is a very
poor reliance. I trust you may become wise enough to never rely
upon it again. If I have any duty in the matter, it is to give back
the money to those from whom I took it; not to pay it over to villains
such as you.

XIII.

On general principles of law and reason, the oaths which foreigners
take, on coming here, and being “naturalized” (as it is called),
are of no validity. They are necessarily given to nobody; because
there is no open, authentic association, to which they can join
themselves; or to whom, as individuals, they can pledge their faith.
No such association, or organization, as “the people of the United
States,” having ever been formed by any open, written, authentic,
or voluntary contract, there is, on general principles of law and
reason, no such association, or organization, in existence. And
all oaths that purport to be given to such an association are necessarily
given only to the winds. They cannot be said to be given to any
man, or body of men, as individuals, because no man, or body of
men, can come forward with any proof that the oaths were given to
them, as individuals, or to any association of which they are members.
To say that there is a tacit understanding among a portion of the
male adults of the country, that they will call themselves “the
people of the United States,” and that they will act in concert
in subjecting the remainder of the people of the United States to
their dominion; but that they will keep themselves personally concealed
by doing all their acts secretly, is wholly insufficient, on general
principles of law and reason, to prove the existence of any such
association, or organization, as “the people of the United States”;
or consequently to prove that the oaths of foreigners were given
to any such association.

XIV.

On general principles of law and reason, all the oaths which, since
the war, have been given by Southern men, that they will obey the
laws of Congress, support the Union, and the like, are of no validity.
Such oaths are invalid, not only because they were extorted by military
power, and threats of confiscation, and because they are in contravention
of men’s natural right to do as they please about supporting the
government, but also because they were given to nobody.
They were nominally given to “the United States.” But being nominally
given to “the United States,” they were necessarily given to nobody,
because, on general principles of law and reason, there were no
“United States,” to whom the oaths could be given. That is to say,
there was no open, authentic, avowed, legitimate association, corporation,
or body of men, known as “the United States,” or as “the people
of the United States,” to whom the oaths could have been given.
If anybody says there was such a corporation, let him state who
were the individuals that composed it, and how and when they became
a corporation. Were Mr. A, Mr. B, and Mr. C members of it? If so,
where are their signatures? Where the evidence of their membership?
Where the record? Where the open, authentic proof? There is none.
Therefore, in law and reason, there was no such corporation.

On general principles of law and reason, every corporation, association,
or organized body of men, having a legitimate corporate existence,
and legitimate corporate rights, must consist of certain known individuals,
who can prove, by legitimate and reasonable evidence, their membership.
But nothing of this kind can be proved in regard to the corporation,
or body of men, who call themselves “the United States.” Not a man
of them, in all the Northern States, can prove by any legitimate
evidence, such as is required to prove membership in other legal
corporations, that he himself, or any other man whom he can name,
is a member of any corporation or association called “the United
States,” or “the people of the United States,” or, consequently,
that there is any such corporation. And since no such corporation
can be proved to exist, it cannot of course be proved that the oaths
of Southern men were given to any such corporation. The most that
can be claimed is that the oaths were given to a secret band of
robbers and murderers, who called themselves “the United States,”
and extorted those oaths. But that is certainly not enough to prove
that the oaths are of any obligation.

XV.

On general principles of law and reason, the oaths of soldiers,
that they will serve a given number of years, that they will obey
the orders of their superior officers, that they will bear true
allegiance to the government, and so forth, are of no obligation.
Independently of the criminality of an oath, that, for a given number
of years, he will kill all whom he may be commanded to kill, without
exercising his own judgment or conscience as to the justice or necessity
of such killing, there is this further reason why a soldier’s oath
is of no obligation, viz., that, like all the other oaths that have
now been mentioned, it is given to nobody. There being,
in no legitimate sense, any such corporation, or nation, as “the
United States,” nor, consequently, in any legitimate sense, any
such government as “the government of the United States,” a soldier’s
oath given to, or contract made with, such a nation or government,
is necessarily an oath given to, or contract made with, nobody.
Consequently such an oath or contract can be of no obligation.

XVI.

On general principles of law and reason, the treaties, so called,
which purport to be entered into with other nations, by persons
calling themselves ambassadors, secretaries, presidents, and senators
of the United States, in the name, and in behalf, of “the people
of the United States,” are of no validity. These so-called ambassadors,
secretaries, presidents, and senators, who claim to be the agents
of “the people of the United States” for making these treaties,
can show no open, written, or other authentic evidence that either
the whole “people of the United States,” or any other open, avowed,
responsible body of men, calling themselves by that name, ever authorized
these pretended ambassadors and others to make treaties in the name
of, or binding upon any one of, “the people of the United States,”
or any other open, avowed, responsible body of men, calling themselves
by that name, ever authorized these pretended ambassadors, secretaries,
and others, in their name and behalf, to recognize certain other
persons, calling themselves emperors, kings, queens, and the like,
as the rightful rulers, sovereigns, masters, or representatives
of the different peoples whom they assume to govern, to represent,
and to bind.

The “nations,” as they are called, with whom our pretended ambassadors,
secretaries, presidents, and senators profess to make treaties,
are as much myths as our own. On general principles of law and reason,
there are no such “nations.” That is to say, neither the whole people
of England, for example, nor any open, avowed, responsible body
of men, calling themselves by that name, ever, by any open, written,
or other authentic contract with each other, formed themselves into
any bona fide, legitimate association or organization, or authorized
any king, queen, or other representative to make treaties in their
name, or to bind them, either individually, or as an association,
by such treaties.

Our pretended treaties, then, being made with no legitimate or bona
fide nations, or representatives of nations, and being made, on
our part, by persons who have no legitimate authority to act for
us, have intrinsically no more validity than a pretended treaty
made by the Man in the Moon with the king of the Pleiades.

XVII.

On general principles of law and reason, debts contracted in the
name of “the United States,” or of “the people of the United States,”
are of no validity. It is utterly absurd to pretend that debts to
the amount of twenty-five hundred millions of dollars are binding
upon thirty-five or forty millions of people, when there is not
a particle of legitimate evidence – such as would be required
to prove a private debt – that can be produced against any
one of them, that either he, or his properly authorized attorney,
ever contracted to pay one cent.

Certainly, neither the whole people of the United States, nor any
number of them, ever separately or individually contracted to pay
a cent of these debts.

Certainly, also, neither the whole people of the United States,
nor any number of them, every, by any open, written, or other authentic
and voluntary contract, united themselves as a firm, corporation,
or association, by the name of “the United States,” or “the people
of the United States,” and authorized their agents to contract debts
in their name.

Certainly, too, there is in existence no such firm, corporation,
or association as “the United States,” or “the people of the United
States,” formed by any open, written, or other authentic and voluntary
contract, and having corporate property with which to pay these
debts.

How, then, is it possible, on any general principle of law or reason,
that debts that are binding upon nobody individually, can be binding
upon forty millions of people collectively, when, on general and
legitimate principles of law and reason, these forty millions of
people neither have, nor ever had, any corporate property? never
made any corporate or individual contract? and neither have, nor
ever had, any corporate existence?

Who, then, created these debts, in the name of “the United States”?
Why, at most, only a few persons, calling themselves “members of
Congress,” etc., who pretended to represent “the people of the United
States,” but who really represented only a secret band of robbers
and murderers, who wanted money to carry on the robberies and murders
in which they were then engaged; and who intended to extort from
the future people of the United States, by robbery and threats of
murder (and real murder, if that should prove necessary), the means
to pay these debts.

This band of robbers and murderers, who were the real principals
in contracting these debts, is a secret one, because its members
have never entered into any open, written, avowed, or authentic
contract, by which they may be individually known to the world,
or even to each other. Their real or pretended representatives,
who contracted these debts in their name, were selected (if selected
at all) for that purpose secretly (by secret ballot), and in a way
to furnish evidence against none of the principals individually;
and these principals were really known individually neither
to their pretended representatives who contracted these debts in
their behalf, nor to those who lent the money. The money, therefore,
was all borrowed and lent in the dark; that is, by men who did not
see each other’s faces, or know each other’s names; who could not
then, and cannot now, identify each other as principals in the transactions;
and who consequently can prove no contract with each other.

Furthermore, the money was all lent and borrowed for criminal purposes;
that is, for purposes of robbery and murder; and for this reason
the contracts were all intrinsically void; and would have been so,
even though the real parties, borrowers and lenders, had come face
to face, and made their contracts openly, in their own proper names.

Furthermore, this secret band of robbers and murderers, who were
the real borrowers of this money, having no legitimate corporate
existence, have no corporate property with which to pay these debts.
They do indeed pretend to own large tracts of wild lands, lying
between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and between the Gulf of
Mexico and the North Pole. But, on general principles of law and
reason, they might as well pretend to own the Atlantic and Pacific
Oceans themselves; or the atmosphere and the sunlight; and to hold
them, and dispose of them, for the payment of these debts.

Having no corporate property with which to pay what purports to
be their corporate debts, this secret band of robbers and murderers
are really bankrupt. They have nothing to pay with. In fact, they
do not propose to pay their debts otherwise than from the proceeds
of their future robberies and murders. These are confessedly their
sole reliance; and were known to be such by the lenders of the money,
at the time the money was lent. And it was, therefore, virtually
a part of the contract, that the money should be repaid only from
the proceeds of these future robberies and murders. For this reason,
if for no other, the contracts were void from the beginning.

     
In fact, these apparently two classes, borrowers and lenders, were
really one and the same class. They borrowed and lent money from
and to themselves. They themselves were not only part and parcel,
but the very life and soul, of this secret band of robbers and murderers,
who borrowed and spent the money. Individually they furnished money
for a common enterprise; taking, in return, what purported to be
corporate promises for individual loans. The only excuse they had
for taking these so-called corporate promises of, for individual
loans by, the same parties, was that they might have some apparent
excuse for the future robberies of the band (that is, to pay the
debts of the corporation), and that they might also know what shares
they were to be respectively entitled to out of the proceeds of
their future robberies.

Finally, if these debts had been created for the most innocent and
honest purposes, and in the most open and honest manner, by the
real parties to the contracts, these parties could thereby have
bound nobody but themselves, and no property but their own. They
could have bound nobody that should have come after them, and no
property subsequently created by, or belonging to, other persons.

XVIII.

The Constitution having never been signed by anybody; and there
being no other open, written, or authentic contract between any
parties whatever, by virtue of which the United States government,
so called, is maintained; and it being well known that none but
male persons, of twenty-one years of age and upwards, are allowed
any voice in the government; and it being also well known that a
large number of these adult persons seldom or never vote at all;
and that all those who do vote, do so secretly (by secret ballot),
and in a way to prevent their individual votes being known, either
to the world, or even to each other; and consequently in a way to
make no one openly responsible for the acts of their agents, or
representatives, – all these things being known, the questions
arise: Who compose the real governing power in the country?
Who are the men, the responsible men, who rob us of our
property? Restrain us of our liberty? Subject us to their arbitrary
dominion? And devastate our homes, and shoot us down by the hundreds
of thousands, if we resist? How shall we find these men? How shall
we know them from others? How shall we defend ourselves and our
property against them? Who, of our neighbors, are members of this
secret band of robbers and murderers? How can we know which are
their houses, that we may burn or demolish them? Which
their property, that we may destroy it? Which their persons,
that we may kill them, and rid the world and ourselves of such tyrants
and monsters?

These are questions that must be answered, before men can be free;
before they can protect themselves against this secret band of robbers
and murderers, who now plunder, enslave, and destroy them.

The answer to these questions is, that only those who have the will
and power to shoot down their fellow men, are the real rulers in
this, as in all other (so-called) civilized countries; for by no
others will civilized men be robbed, or enslaved.

Among savages, mere physical strength, on the part of one man, may
enable him to rob, enslave, or kill another man. Among barbarians,
mere physical strength, on the part of a body of men, disciplined,
and acting in concert, though with very little money or other wealth,
may, under some circumstances, enable them to rob, enslave, or kill
another body of men, as numerous, or perhaps even more numerous,
than themselves. And among both savages and barbarians, mere want
may sometimes compel one man to sell himself as a slave to another.
But with (so-called) civilized peoples, among whom knowledge, wealth,
and the means of acting in concert, have become diffused; and who
have invented such weapons and other means of defense as to render
mere physical strength of less importance; and by whom soldiers
in any requisite number, and other instrumentalities of war in any
requisite amount, can always be had for money, the question of war,
and consequently the question of power, is little else than a mere
question of money. As a necessary consequence, those who stand ready
to furnish this money, are the real rulers. It is so in Europe,
and it is so in this country.

In Europe, the nominal rulers, the emperors and kings and parliaments,
are anything but the real rulers of their respective countries.
They are little or nothing else than mere tools, employed by the
wealthy to rob, enslave, and (if need be) murder those who have
less wealth, or none at all.

The Rothschilds, and that class of money-lenders of whom they are
the representatives and agents – men who never think of lending
a shilling to their next-door neighbors, for purposes of honest
industry, unless upon the most ample security, and at the highest
rate of interest – stand ready, at all times, to lend money
in unlimited amounts to those robbers and murderers, who call themselves
governments, to be expended in shooting down those who do not submit
quietly to being robbed and enslaved.

They lend their money in this manner, knowing that it is to be expended
in murdering their fellow men, for simply seeking their liberty
and their rights; knowing also that neither the interest nor the
principal will ever be paid, except as it will be extorted under
terror of the repetition of such murders as those for which the
money lent is to be expended.

These money-lenders, the Rothschilds, for example, say to themselves:
If we lend a hundred millions sterling to the queen and parliament
of England, it will enable them to murder twenty, fifty, or a hundred
thousand people in England, Ireland, or India; and the terror inspired
by such wholesale slaughter, will enable them to keep the whole
people of those countries in subjection for twenty, or perhaps fifty,
years to come; to control all their trade and industry; and to extort
from them large amounts of money, under the name of taxes; and from
the wealth thus extorted from them, they (the queen and parliament)
can afford to pay us a higher rate of interest for our money than
we can get in any other way. Or, if we lend this sum to the emperor
of Austria, it will enable him to murder so many of his people as
to strike terror into the rest, and thus enable him to keep them
in subjection, and extort money from them, for twenty or fifty years
to come. And they say the same in regard to the emperor of Russia,
the king of Prussia, the emperor of France, or any other ruler,
so called, who, in their judgment, will be able, by murdering a
reasonable portion of his people, to keep the rest in subjection,
and extort money from them, for a long time to come, to pay the
interest and the principal of the money lent him.

And why are these men so ready to lend money for murdering their
fellow men? Soley for this reason, viz., that such loans are considered
better investments than loans for purposes of honest industry. They
pay higher rates of interest; and it is less trouble to look after
them. This is the whole matter.

The question of making these loans is, with these lenders, a mere
question of pecuniary profit. They lend money to be expended in
robbing, enslaving, and murdering their fellow men, solely because,
on the whole, such loans pay better than any others. They are no
respecters of persons, no superstitious fools, that reverence monarchs.
They care no more for a king, or an emperor, than they do for a
beggar, except as he is a better customer, and can pay them better
interest for their money. If they doubt his ability to make his
murders successful for maintaining his power, and thus extorting
money from his people in future, they dismiss him unceremoniously
as they would dismiss any other hopeless bankrupt, who should want
to borrow money to save himself from open insolvency.

When these great lenders of blood-money, like the Rothschilds, have
loaned vast sums in this way, for purposes of murder, to an emperor
or a king, they sell out the bonds taken by them, in small amounts,
to anybody, and everybody, who are disposed to buy them at satisfactory
prices, to hold as investments. They (the Rothschilds) thus soon
get back their money, with great profits; and are now ready to lend
money in the same way again to any other robber and murderer, called
an emperor or king, who, they think, is likely to be successful
in his robberies and murders, and able to pay a good price for the
money necessary to carry them on.

This business of lending blood-money is one of the most thoroughly
sordid, cold-blooded, and criminal that was ever carried on, to
any considerable extent, amongst human beings. It is like lending
money to slave traders, or to common robbers and pirates, to be
repaid out of their plunder. And the men who loan money to governments,
so called, for the purpose of enabling the latter to rob, enslave,
and murder their people, are among the greatest villains that the
world has ever seen. And they as much deserve to be hunted and killed
(if they cannot otherwise be got rid of) as any slave traders, robbers,
or pirates that ever lived.

When these emperors and kings, so-called, have obtained their loans,
they proceed to hire and train immense numbers of professional murderers,
called soldiers, and employ them in shooting down all who resist
their demands for money. In fact, most of them keep large bodies
of these murderers constantly in their service, as their only means
of enforcing their extortions. There are now, I think, four or five
millions of these professional murderers constantly employed by
the so-called sovereigns of Europe. The enslaved people are, of
course, forced to support and pay all these murderers, as well as
to submit to all the other extortions which these murderers are
employed to enforce.

It is only in this way that most of the so-called governments of
Europe are maintained. These so-called governments are in reality
only great bands of robbers and murderers, organized, disciplined,
and constantly on the alert. And the so-called sovereigns, in these
different governments, are simply the heads, or chiefs, of different
bands of robbers and murderers. And these heads or chiefs are dependent
upon the lenders of blood-money for the means to carry on their
robberies and murders. They could not sustain themselves a moment
but for the loans made to them by these blood-money loan-mongers.
And their first care is to maintain their credit with them; for
they know their end is come, the instant their credit with them
fails. Consequently the first proceeds of their extortions are scrupulously
applied to the payment of the interest on their loans.

In addition to paying the interest on their bonds, they perhaps
grant to the holders of them great monopolies in banking, like the
Banks of England, of France, and of Vienna; with the agreement that
these banks shall furnish money whenever, in sudden emergencies,
it may be necessary to shoot down more of their people. Perhaps
also, by means of tariffs on competing imports, they give great
monopolies to certain branches of industry, in which these lenders
of blood-money are engaged. They also, by unequal taxation, exempt
wholly or partially the property of these loan-mongers, and throw
corresponding burdens upon those who are too poor and weak to resist.

Thus it is evident that all these men, who call themselves by the
high-sounding names of Emperors, Kings, Sovereigns, Monarchs, Most
Christian Majesties, Most Catholic Majesties, High Mightinesses,
Most Serene and Potent Princes, and the like, and who claim to rule
“by the grace of God,” by “Divine Right” – that is, by special
authority from Heaven – are intrinsically not only the merest
miscreants and wretches, engaged solely in plundering, enslaving,
and murdering their fellow men, but that they are also the merest
hangers on, the servile, obsequious, fawning dependents and tools
of these blood-money loan-mongers, on whom they rely for the means
to carry on their crimes. These loan-mongers, like the Rothschilds,
laugh in their sleeves, and say to themselves: These despicable
creatures, who call themselves emperors, and kings, and majesties,
and most serene and potent princes; who profess to wear crowns,
and sit on thrones; who deck themselves with ribbons, and feathers,
and jewels; and surround themselves with hired flatterers and lickspittles;
and whom we suffer to strut around, and palm themselves off, upon
fools and slaves, as sovereigns and lawgivers specially appointed
by Almighty God; and to hold themselves out as the sole fountains
of honors, and dignities, and wealth, and power – all these
miscreants and impostors know that we make them, and use them; that
in us they live, move, and have their being; that we require them
(as the price of their positions) to take upon themselves all the
labor, all the danger, and all the odium of all the crimes they
commit for our profit; and that we will unmake them, strip them
of their gewgaws, and send them out into the world as beggars, or
give them over to the vengeance of the people they have enslaved,
the moment they refuse to commit any crime we require of them, or
to pay over to us such share of the proceeds of their robberies
as we see fit to demand.

XIX.

Now, what is true in Europe, is substantially true in this country.
The difference is the immaterial one, that, in this country, there
is no visible, permanent head, or chief, of these robbers and murderers
who call themselves “the government.” That is to say, there is no
one man, who calls himself the state, or even emperor, king,
or sovereign; no one who claims that he and his children rule “by
the Grace of God,” by “Divine Right,” or by special appointment
from Heaven. There are only certain men, who call themselves presidents,
senators, and representatives, and claim to be the authorized agents,
for the time being, or for certain short periods, of all “the
people of the United States”; but who can show no credentials, or
powers of attorney, or any other open, authentic evidence that they
are so; and who notoriously are not so; but are really only the
agents of a secret band of robbers and murderers, whom they themselves
do not know, and have no means of knowing, individually; but who,
they trust, will openly or secretly, when the crisis comes, sustain
them in all their usurpations and crimes.

What is important to be noticed is, that these so-called presidents,
senators, and representatives, these pretended agents of all “the
people of the United States,” the moment their exactions meet with
any formidable resistance from any portion of “the people” themselves,
are obliged, like their co-robbers and murderers in Europe, to fly
at once to the lenders of blood money, for the means to sustain
their power. And they borrow their money on the same principle,
and for the same purpose, viz., to be expended in shooting down
all those “people of the United States” – their own constituents
and principals, as they profess to call them – who resist the
robberies and enslavements which these borrowers of the money are
practicing upon them. And they expect to repay the loans, if at
all, only from the proceeds of the future robberies, which they
anticipate it will be easy for them and their successors to perpetrate
through a long series of years, upon their pretended principals,
if they can but shoot down now some hundreds of thousands of them,
and thus strike terror into the rest.

Perhaps the facts were never made more evident, in any country on
the globe, than in our own, that these soulless blood-money loan-mongers
are the real rulers; that they rule from the most sordid and mercenary
motives; that the ostensible government, the presidents, senators,
and representatives, so called, are merely their tools; and that
no ideas of, or regard for, justice or liberty had anything to do
in inducing them to lend their money for the war. In proof of all
this, look at the following facts.

Nearly a hundred years ago we professed to have got rid of all that
religious superstition, inculcated by a servile and corrupt priesthood
in Europe, that rulers, so called, derived their authority directly
from Heaven; and that it was consequently a religious duty on the
part of the people to obey them. We professed long ago to have learned
that governments could rightfully exist only by the free will, and
on the voluntary support, of those who might choose to sustain them.
We all professed to have known long ago, that the only legitimate
objects of government were the maintenance of liberty and justice
equally for all. All this we had professed for nearly a hundred
years. And we professed to look with pity and contempt upon those
ignorant, superstitious, and enslaved peoples of Europe, who were
so easily kept in subjection by the frauds and force of priests
and kings.

Notwithstanding all this, that we had learned, and known, and professed,
for nearly a century, these lenders of blood money had, for a long
series of years previous to the war, been the willing accomplices
of the slave-holders in perverting the government from the purposes
of liberty and justice, to the greatest of crimes. They had been
such accomplices for a purely pecuniary consideration,
to wit, a control of the markets in the South; in other words, the
privilege of holding the slave-holders themselves in industrial
and commercial subjection to the manufacturers and merchants of
the North (who afterwards furnished the money for the war). And
these Northern merchants and manufacturers, these lenders of blood-money,
were willing to continue to be the accomplices of the slave-holders
in the future, for the same pecuniary considerations. But the slave-holders,
either doubting the fidelity of their Northern allies, or feeling
themselves strong enough to keep their slaves in subjection without
Northern assistance, would no longer pay the price which these Northern
men demanded. And it was to enforce this price in the future –
that is, to monopolize the Southern markets, to maintain their industrial
and commercial control over the South – that these Northern
manufacturers and merchants lent some of the profits of their former
monopolies for the war, in order to secure to themselves the same,
or greater, monopolies in the future. These – and not any love
of liberty or justice – were the motives on which the money
for the war was lent by the North. In short, the North said to the
slave-holders: If you will not pay us our price (give us control
of your markets) for our assistance against your slaves, we will
secure the same price (keep control of your markets) by helping
your slaves against you, and using them as our tools for maintaining
dominion over you; for the control of your markets we will have,
whether the tools we use for that purpose be black or white, and
be the cost, in blood and money, what it may.

On this principle, and from this motive, and not from any love of
liberty, or justice, the money was lent in enormous amounts, and
at enormous rates of interest. And it was only by means of these
loans that the objects of the war were accomplished.

And now these lenders of blood-money demand their pay; and the government,
so called, becomes their tool, their servile, slavish, villainous
tool, to extort it from the labor of the enslaved people both of
the North and South. It is to be extorted by every form of direct,
and indirect, and unequal taxation. Not only the nominal debt and
interest – enormous as the latter was – are to be paid
in full; but these holders of the debt are to be paid still further
– and perhaps doubly, triply, or quadruply paid – by such
tariffs on imports as will enable our home manufacturers to realize
enormous prices for their commodities; also by such monopolies in
banking as will enable them to keep control of, and thus enslave
and plunder, the industry and trade of the great body of the Northern
people themselves. In short, the industrial and commercial slavery
of the great body of the people, North and South, black and white,
is the price which these lenders of blood money demand, and insist
upon, and are determined to secure, in return for the money lent
for the war.

This program having been fully arranged and systematized, they put
their sword into the hands of the chief murderer of the war, and
charge him to carry their scheme into effect. And now he, speaking
as their organ, says, “let us have peace.”

The meaning of this is: Submit quietly to all the robbery and slavery
we have arranged for you, and you can have “peace.” But in case
you resist, the same lenders of blood-money, who furnished the means
to subdue the South, will furnish the means again to subdue you.

These are the terms on which alone this government, or, with few
exceptions, any other, ever gives “peace” to its people.

The whole affair, on the part of those who furnished the money,
has been, and now is, a deliberate scheme of robbery and murder;
not merely to monopolize the markets of the South, but also to monopolize
the currency, and thus control the industry and trade, and thus
plunder and enslave the laborers, of both North and South. And Congress
and the president are today the merest tools for these purposes.
They are obliged to be, for they know that their own power, as rulers,
so-called, is at an end, the moment their credit with the blood-money
loan-mongers fails. They are like a bankrupt in the hands of an
extortionist. They dare not say nay to any demand made upon them.
And to hide at once, if possible, both their servility and crimes,
they attempt to divert public attention, by crying out that they
have “Abolished Slavery!” That they have “Saved the Country!” That
they have “Preserved our Glorious Union!” and that, in now paying
the “National Debt,” as they call it (as if the people themselves,
all of them who are to be taxed for its payment, had really
and voluntarily joined in contracting it), they are simply “Maintaining
the National Honor!”

By “maintaining the national honor,” they mean simply that they
themselves, open robbers and murderers, assume to be the nation,
and will keep faith with those who lend them the money necessary
to enable them to crush the great body of the people under their
feet; and will faithfully appropriate, from the proceeds of their
future robberies and murders, enough to pay all their loans, principal
and interest.

The pretense that the “abolition of slavery” was either a motive
or justification for the war, is a fraud of the same character with
that of “maintaining the national honor.” Who, but such usurpers,
robbers, and murderers as they, ever established slavery? Or what
government, except one resting upon the sword, like the one we now
have, was ever capable of maintaining slavery? And why did these
men abolish slavery? Not from any love of liberty in general –
not as an act of justice to the black man himself, but only “as
a war measure,” and because they wanted his assistance, and that
of his friends, in carrying on the war they had undertaken for maintaining
and intensifying that political, commercial, and industrial slavery,
to which they have subjected the great body of the people, both
black and white. And yet these impostors now cry out that they have
abolished the chattel slavery of the black man – although that
was not the motive of the war – as if they thought they could
thereby conceal, atone for, or justify that other slavery which
they were fighting to perpetuate, and to render more rigorous and
inexorable than it ever was before. There was no difference of principle
– but only of degree – between the slavery they boast
they have abolished, and the slavery they were fighting to preserve;
for all restraints upon men’s natural liberty, not necessary for
the simple maintenance of justice, are of the nature of slavery,
and differ from each other only in degree.

If their object had really been to abolish slavery, or maintain
liberty or justice generally, they had only to say: All, whether
white or black, who want the protection of this government, shall
have it; and all who do not want it, will be left in peace, so long
as they leave us in peace. Had they said this, slavery would necessarily
have been abolished at once; the war would have been saved; and
a thousand times nobler union than we have ever had would have been
the result. It would have been a voluntary union of free men; such
a union as will one day exist among all men, the world over, if
the several nations, so called, shall ever get rid of the usurpers,
robbers, and murderers, called governments, that now plunder, enslave,
and destroy them.

Still another of the frauds of these men is, that they are now establishing,
and that the war was designed to establish, “a government of consent.”
The only idea they have ever manifested as to what is a government
of consent, is this – that it is one to which everybody must
consent, or be shot. This idea was the dominant one on which the
war was carried on; and it is the dominant one, now that we have
got what is called “peace.”

Their pretenses that they have “Saved the Country,” and “Preserved
our Glorious Union,” are frauds like all the rest of their pretenses.
By them they mean simply that they have subjugated, and maintained
their power over, an unwilling people. This they call “Saving the
Country”; as if an enslaved and subjugated people – or as if
any people kept in subjection by the sword (as it is intended that
all of us shall be hereafter) – could be said to have any country.
This, too, they call “Preserving our Glorious Union”; as if there
could be said to be any Union, glorious or inglorious, that was
not voluntary. Or as if there could be said to be any union between
masters and slaves; between those who conquer, and those who are
subjugated.

All these cries of having “abolished slavery,” of having “saved
the country,” of having “preserved the union,” of establishing “a
government of consent,” and of “maintaining the national honor,”
are all gross, shameless, transparent cheats – so transparent
that they ought to deceive no one – when uttered as justifications
for the war, or for the government that has succeeded the war, or
for now compelling the people to pay the cost of the war, or for
compelling anybody to support a government that he does not want.

The lesson taught by all these facts is this: As long as mankind
continue to pay “national debts,” so-called – that is, so long
as they are such dupes and cowards as to pay for being cheated,
plundered, enslaved, and murdered – so long there will be enough
to lend the money for those purposes; and with that money a plenty
of tools, called soldiers, can be hired to keep them in subjection.
But when they refuse any longer to pay for being thus cheated, plundered,
enslaved, and murdered, they will cease to have cheats, and usurpers,
and robbers, and murderers and blood-money loan-mongers for masters.

APPENDIX.

Inasmuch
as the Constitution was never signed, nor agreed to, by anybody,
as a contract, and therefore never bound anybody, and is now binding
upon nobody; and is, moreover, such an one as no people can ever
hereafter be expected to consent to, except as they may be forced
to do so at the point of the bayonet, it is perhaps of no importance
what its true legal meaning, as a contract, is. Nevertheless, the
writer thinks it proper to say that, in his opinion, the Constitution
is no such instrument as it has generally been assumed to be; but
that by false interpretations, and naked usurpations, the government
has been made in practice a very widely, and almost wholly, different
thing from what the Constitution itself purports to authorize. He
has heretofore written much, and could write much more, to prove
that such is the truth. But whether the Constitution really be one
thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either
authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless
to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.

Lysander
Spooner
(1808–1887) was a lawyer, writer, entrepreneur,
and libertarian activist.

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