Lysander Spooner (1808-1887) was a Massachussetts lawyer noted for
his vigorous and brilliant opposition to the encroachment of the
State upon the liberty of the individual.  His writings on the
unconstitutionality of slavery influenced pre-Civil War thought.
His challenge to the postal monopoly (he set up a thriving private
post) resulted in an Act of Congress sharply reducing postage
rates.  Unfortunately, he was so successful that Congress finally
outlawed his enterprise.

The following is the first of a several-part posting of Spooner's
work, "No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority," which
_Playboy_ magazine said "may be the most subversive document ever
penned in this nation." Due to the lack of italic characters in
ASCII, I have used uppercase to indicate italicized words.


                            NO TREASON
                   The Constitution of No Authority


                         Lysander Spooner


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.  [This essay was
written in 1869.]  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,
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 tranquility, provide for the common
defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of
liberty to ourselves AND OUR POSTERITY, do ordain and establish
this Constitution for the United States of America.

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,
tranquility, 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, tranquility,
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

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.


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 [1869], 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.  [In recent years, since 1940, the number of voters
in elections has usually fluctuated between one-third and two-
fifths of the populace.]

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-  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 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-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 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 exection 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

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

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 vand 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

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," [1] 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.

[1] Suppose it be "the best government on earth," does that prove
its own   goodness, or only the badness of all other


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 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

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

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 travellers, 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 villanies 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

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 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.  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 moeny 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.


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. [1] 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.

[1] The very men who drafted it, never signed it in any way to
bind   themselves by it, AS A CONTRACT.  And not one of them
probably   ever would have signed it in any way to bind himself
by it, AS A   CONTRACT.

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.


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
CHARGEABLE UPON THEM. [At this point there is a footnote listing 34
states whose statute books Spooner had examined, all of which had
variations of this English statute; the footnote also quotes part
of the Massachussetts statute.]

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 --

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
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
princples 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.


It is no exaggeration, but a literal truth, to say that, by the
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); [1] and this
provision protects them from all responsibility for the laws they

[1] And this two-thirds vote may be but two-thirds of a quorum --
that is   two-thirds of a majority -- instead of two-thirds of
the whole.

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 resonsibility 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. [2]

[2] Of what appreciable value is it to any man, as an individual,
that   he is allowed a voice in choosing these public masters?
His voice   is only one of several millions.

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

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 intrusted to
him.  If I have intrusted 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.


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
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.


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

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

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


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!


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


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

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
fulfil 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
forus.  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!


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.


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.


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.


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 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


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 instrinsically no more validity than a pretended treaty made
by the Man in the Moon with the king of the Pleiades.


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 [the
approximate national debt and population in 1870], 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

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

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.


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 hooms, 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 becom
diffusede; 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

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 Rosthchilds, 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 Rosthchilds, 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

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 [1870], 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

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 imposters 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.


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
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 practising 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 [i.e, the Civil 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

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,
villanous 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 programme having been fully arranged and systematized, they
put their sword into the hands of the chief murderer of the war,
[undoubtedly a reference to General Grant, who had just become
president] 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

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 extortioner.  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

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 imposters 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

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 suceeded 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.


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.

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Lysander Spooner