Lysander Spooner, No Treason. No. II. The Constitution  The whole authority of the Constitution rests upon it. If they did not consent, it was of no validity. Lysander Spooner, No Treason. No. I. (Boston: Published by the Author, ). If that principle be not the principle of the Constitution, the fact should be known. That two men have no more natural right to exercise any kind of authority over . No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority. December 9, Lysander Spooner. The greatest case for anarchist political philosophy ever written. Narrated by.
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The meaning of this is simply: The whole authority of the Constitution rests upon it. If they constiuttion not consent, it was of no validity.
Lysander Spooner – No Treason No. 6: The Constitution of No Authority
Of course it had no validity, except as between those who actually consented. And to make it binding upon any one, his signature, or other positive evidence of consent, was as necessary spokner in the case of ho other contract. The agreement is a simple one, like any other agreement.
It is the same as one that should say: We, the people of the town of A—, agree to sustain a church, a school, a hospital, or a theatre, for ourselves and our children. Such an agreement clearly could have no validity, except as between those who actually consented to it. Neither the conduct nor the rights authlrity these signers would be improved at all by their saying to the dissenters: We offer you equal rights with ourselves, in the benefits of the church, school, hospital, or theatre, which we propose to establish, and equal voice in the control of it.
It would be a sufficient answer for the others to say: We want no share in the nno, and no voice in the control, of your institution; and will do nothing to support it.
The number who actually consented to the Constitution of the United States, at the first, was very small. Considered as the act of the whole people, the adoption of the Constitution was the merest farce and imposture, binding upon nobody.
The women, children, and blacks, of course, were not asked to give their consent. In addition to this, there were, in nearly or quite all the States, property qualifications that excluded probably one half, two thirds, or perhaps even three fourths, of the white male adults from the right of suffrage.
And of those who were allowed that right, we know not how many exercised it. Furthermore, those who originally agreed to the Constitution, could thereby bind nobody that should come after them. They could contract for nobody but themselves. They had no more Edition: Even those who actually voted for the adoption of the Constitution, did not pledge their faith for any specific time; since no specific time was named, in the Constitution, during which the association should continue.
It was, therefore, merely an association during pleasure; even as between the original parties to it. Still less, if possible, has it been any thing more than a merely voluntary association, during pleasure, between the succeeding generations, who have never gone through, as their fathers did, with so much even as any outward formality of adopting it, or of pledging their faith to support it. Such portions of them as pleased, and as the States permitted to vote, have only done enough, by voting and paying taxes, and unlawfully and tyrannically extorting taxes from others, to keep the government in operation for the time being.
And this, in the view of the Constitution, they have done voluntarily, and because it was for their interest, or pleasure, and not because they were under any pledge or obligation to do it. Any one man, or any number of men, have had a perfect right, at any time, to refuse his or their further support; and nobody could rightfully object to his or their withdrawal.
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There is no escape from these conclusions, if we say that the adoption of the Constitution was the act of the people, as individuals, and not of the States, as States. On the other hand, if we say that the adoption was the act of the States, as States, it necessarily follows that they had the right to secede at pleasure, inasmuch as they engaged for no specific time. The consent, therefore, that has been given, whether by individuals, or by the States, has been, at most, only a consent for the time being; not an engagement for the future.
In truth, in the case of individuals, their actual voting is not to be taken as proof of consent, even for the time being. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, without his consent having ever been asked, a Edition: He sees, too, that other men practise this tyranny over him by the use of the ballot.
He sees further that, if he will but use the ballot himself, he has some chance of relieving himself from this tyranny of others, by subjecting them to his own. In short, 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 epooner. In self-defence, he attempts the former. His case is analogous to that of a man who has been forced into battle, where he must either kill others, or be killed himself. Because, to save his own life in battle, a man attempts kysander take the lives of his opponents, it is not to be inferred that the battle is one of his own choosing.
Neither in contests with the ballot—which is a mere substitute for a bullet—because, as his only chance of self-preservation, a man uses a ballot, is it to be inferred that the contest is one into which he voluntarily entered; that he voluntarily set up all his own natural rights, as a stake against those of others, to be lost or won by the mere power of numbers.
On the contrary, it is to be considered that, in an exigency, into which he had been forced by others, and in which no other means of self-defence offered, he, as a matter of necessity, used the only one that was left to him. Doubtless the most miserable of men, under the most oppressive government in the world, if allowed the ballot, would use it, if they could see any chance of thereby ameliorating their condition.
No Treason Quotes by Lysander Spooner
But it would not therefore be a legitimate inference that the government itself, that crushes them, was one which they had voluntarily set up, or ever consented to. Consequently we have no proof that any very large portion, even of the actual Edition: Nor can we ever have such proof, until every man is left perfectly free to consent, or not, without thereby subjecting himself or his property to injury or trespass from others.
This is constitktion only definition of treason given by the Constitution, and it is to be interpreted, like all other criminal laws, in the sense most favorable to liberty and justice. Consequently the treason here spoken of, must be held to be treason in fact, and not merely something that may have been falsely called by that name. Instead of regarding this false and calumnious meaning of the word treason, we are to look at its true and legitimate meaning in our mother tongue; at its use in common life; and at what would necessarily be its true meaning in any other contracts, or articles Edition: The true and legitimate meaning of the word treason, then, necessarily implies treachery, deceit, breach of faith.
Without these, there can be no treason. A traitor is a betrayer—one who practices injury, while professing friendship. Benedict Cpnstitution was a traitor, solely because, while professing friendship for the American cause, he attempted to injure it.
An open enemy, however criminal in other respects, is no traitor. Neither does a man, who has once been my friend, become a traitor by becoming an enemy, if before doing me an injury, he gives me fair warning that he has become an enemy; and if he makes no unfair use of any advantage which my confidence, in the time of our friendship, had placed in his power.
For example, our fathers—even if we were to admit them to have been wrong in other respects—certainly were not traitors in fact, after the fourth of July, ; since on that day they gave notice to the King of Great Britain that they repudiated his authority, and should wage war against him.
And they made no unfair use of any advantages which his confidence had previously placed in their power. It cannot be denied that, in the late war, the Southern people proved themselves to be open and avowed enemies, and not treacherous friends. It cannot be denied that they gave us fair warning that they would no longer be our political associates, but would, if need were, fight for a separation.
It cannot be alleged that they made any unfair use of advantages which our confidence, in the time of our friendship, had placed in their power. Therefore they were not traitors in fact: Furthermore, men are not traitors in fact, who take up arms against the government, without having disavowed allegiance to it, provided they do it, either to resist the usurpations of the government, or to resist what they sincerely believe to be such usurpations.
No Treason (1867-1870)
It is a maxim of law that there can be no crime without a criminal intent. And this maxim is as applicable to treason as to any other crime. For example, our fathers were not traitors in fact, for resisting the British Crown, before the fourth of July, —that is, before they had thrown off allegiance to him—provided they honestly believed that they were simply defending their rights against his usurpations.
Even if they were mistaken in their law, that mistake, if an innocent one, could not make them traitors in fact. It is, therefore, only by inference, or reasoning, that we can know who will become traitors by these acts. Certainly if Englishmen, Frenchmen, Austrians, or Italians, making no professions of support or constitutipn to the United States, levy war against them, or adhere to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort, they do not thereby make themselves traitors, within the meaning of the Xpooner and why?
Solely because they would not be traitors in fact. Making no professions of support or friendship, they would practice no treachery, deceit, or breach of faith. But if they should voluntarily enter either the civil or military service of the United States, and pledge fidelity to them, without being naturalized, and should then betray the trusts reposed in them, either by turning their guns against the United States, or by giving aid Edition: There is not, in the Constitution, a syllable that implies that persons, born within the territorial limits of the United States, have allegiance imposed upon them on account of their birth in the country, or that they will be judged by any different rule, on the subject of treason, than persons of foreign birth.
And there is no power, in Congress, to add to, or alter, the language of the Constitution, on auhority point, lysanrer as to make it more comprehensive than it now is. Therefore treason in fact—that is, actual treachery, deceit, or breach of faith—must be shown in the case of a native of the United States, equally as in the case of a foreigner, before he can be said to be a traitor. Congress have seen that the language of the Constitution was insufficient, of itself, to make a man a traitor—on the ground of birth in this country—who levies war against the United States, but practices no treachery, deceit, or breach of faith.
They treaason, therefore—although they had no constitutional power to do so—apparently attempted to enlarge the language of the Constitution on this point.
And they have enacted:.
It would be a sufficient answer to this enactment to say that it is utterly unconstitutional, if its effect would be to make any man a traitor, who would not have been one under the language of the Constitution alone. As the Constitution professes to rest wholly on consent, no one can owe allegiance, service, obedience, or any other duty to it, or to the government created by it, except with his own consent.
The word allegiance comes from the Latin words ad and ligo, signifying to bind to. Thus a man under allegiance to a government, is a man bound to it; or bound to yield it support and fidelity.
And governments, founded otherwise than on consent, hold that all persons born under them, are under allegiance to them; that is, are bound to render them support, fidelity, and obedience; and are traitors if they resist them. But it is obvious that, in truth and in fact, no one but himself can bind any one to support any government.
And our Constitution admits this fact when it concedes that it derives its authority wholly from the consent of the people. And the word treason is to be understood in accordance with that idea.
It is conceded that a person of foreign birth comes under allegiance to our government only by special voluntary contract. If a native has allegiance imposed upon him, against his will, he is in a worse condition than the foreigner; for the latter can do as he pleases about assuming that obligation.
The accepted interpretation of the Constitution, therefore, makes the foreigner a free person, on this point, while it makes the native a slave.
The only difference— if there be any —between natives and foreigners, in respect of allegiance, is, that a native has a right —offered to him by the Constitution—to come under allegiance to Edition: His allegiance cannot be refused. 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. 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.
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 Edition: 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.