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No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority by Lysander Spooner
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“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, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“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.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“A man's natural rights are his own, against the whole world; and any infringement of them is equally a crime; whether committed by one man, or by millions; whether committed by one man, calling himself a robber, or by millions calling themselves a government.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“The Constitution says: "We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." The meaning of this is simply We, the people of the United States, acting freely and voluntarily as individuals, consent and agree that we will cooperate with each other in sustaining such a government as is provided for in this Constitution. The necessity for the consent of "the people" is implied in this declaration. The whole authority of the Constitution rests upon it. If they did not consent, it was of no validity. Of course it had no validity, except as between those who actually consented. No one's consent could be presumed against him, without his actual consent being given, any more than in the case of any other contract to pay money, or render service. And to make it binding upon any one, his signature, or other positive evidence of consent, was as necessary as in the case of any other-contract. If the instrument meant to say that any of "the people of the United States" would be bound by it, who did not consent, it was a usurpation and a lie. The most that can be inferred from the form, "We, the people," is, that the instrument offered membership to all "the people of the United States;" leaving it for them to accept or refuse it, at their pleasure.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“...only those who have the will and the 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.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“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.6”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“No middle ground is possible on this subject. Either "taxation without consent is robbery," or it is not. If it is not, then any number of men, who choose, may at any time associate; call themselves a government; assume absolute authority over all weaker than themselves; plunder them at will; and kill them if they resist.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“One essential of a free government is that it rest wholly on voluntary support. And one certain proof that a government is not free, is that it coerces more or less persons to support it, against their will. All governments, the worst on earth, and the most tyrannical on earth, are free governments to that portion of the people who voluntarily support them. And all governments—though the best on earth in other respects—are nevertheless tyrannies to that portion of the people—whether few or many—who are compelled to support them against their will. A government is like a church, or any other institution, in these respects. There is no other criterion whatever, by which to determine whether a government is a free one, or not, than the single one of its depending, or not depending, solely on voluntary support.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“To say that majorities, as such, have a right to rule minorities, is equivalent to saying that minorities have, and ought to have, no rights, except such as majorities please to allow them.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“A government that can at pleasure accuse, shoot, and hang men, as traitors, for the one general offence of refusing to surrender themselves and their property unreservedly to its arbitrary will, can practice any and all special and particular oppressions it pleases.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“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.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“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.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“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 incorporeality, 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.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“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.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“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”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“The Constitution certainly supposes that the crime of treason can be committed only by man, as an individual. It would be very curious to see a man indicted, convicted, or hanged, otherwise than as an individual; or accused of having committed his treason otherwise than as an individual. And yet it is clearly impossible that any one can be personally guilty of treason, can be a traitor in fact, unless he, as an individual, has in some way voluntarily pledged his faith and fidelity to the government. Certainly no man, or body of men, could pledge it for him, without his consent; and no man, or body of men, have any right to presume it against him, when he has not pledged it, himself.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“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.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“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.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“A man's natural rights are his own, against the whole world; and any infringement of them is equally a crime, whether committed by one man, or by millions; whether committed by one man, calling himself a robber, (or by any other name indicating his true character,) or by millions, calling themselves a government.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“The meaning of this is simply We, the people of the United States, acting freely and voluntarily as individuals, consent and agree that we will cooperate with each other in sustaining such a government as is provided for in this Constitution. The necessity for the consent of "the people" is implied in this declaration. The whole authority of the Constitution rests upon it. If they did not consent, it was of no validity. Of course it had no validity, except as between those who actually consented.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“Previous to the war, there were some grounds for saying that—in theory, at least, if not in practice—our government was a free one; that it rested on consent. But nothing of that kind can be said now, if the principle on which the war was carried on by the North, is irrevocably established. If that principle be not the principle of the Constitution, the fact should be known. If it be the principle of the Constitution, the Constitution itself should be at once overthrown.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“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.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“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.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“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.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No 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.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“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.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“It is plain, therefore, that if, when the Constitution says treason, it means treason—treason in fact, and nothing else—there is no ground at all for pretending that the Southern people have committed that crime. But if, on the other hand, when the Constitution says treason, it means what the Czar and the Kaiser mean by treason, then our government is, in principle, no better than theirs; and has no claim whatever to be considered a free government.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“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.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“The principle, on which the war was waged by the North, was simply this: That men may rightfully be compelled to submit to, and support, a government that they do not want; and that resistance, on their part, makes them traitors and criminals.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“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.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority

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