Notes on John C. Calhoun, A Disquisition on Government, () But “this [ social] state cannot exist without government”, and “In no age or country has any . A Disquisition on Government [John C. Calhoun, H. Lee Cheek Jr.] on Amazon. com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. This volume provides the most. A DISQUISITION ON GOVERNMENT. In order to have a clear and just conception of the nature and object of government, it is indispensable to understand.
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It will assign a larger sphere to power and a more contracted one to liberty, or the reverse, according to circumstances.
But they differ in this jphn particular. On the contrary, as the instrument of party warfare, it contributes greatly to increase party excitement, and the violence and virulence of party struggles; and, in the same calhouj, the tendency to oppression and abuse of power.
Either of them, without the other, would leave it comparatively feeble. Any other would be not only too complex and cumbersome, but unnecessary to guard against oppression, where the motive to use power for that purpose would be so feeble. He, in his infinite wisdom and goodness, has allotted to every class of animated beings its condition and appropriate functions; and has endowed each with feelings, instincts, capacities, and faculties, best adapted to its allotted condition.
And hence, among other gpvernment, aristocracies and monarchies more readily assume the constitutional form than absolute popular governments. His own state and southern predilections, the agitation of supporters and friends in the South, as well as his concern about balancing sectional interests, led Calhoun to change his earlier nationalist support for the tariff and embrace the South Carolina position on this matter.
The conflict between yovernment two parties must be transferred, sooner or later, from an appeal to the ballot-box to an appeal to force—as I shall next proceed to explain. X first question, accordingly, to be considered is — What is that constitution or law of our nature, without which government would not exist, and with which its existence jlhn necessary?
But one regards numbers only, and considers the whole community as a unit, having but one common interest throughout; and collects the sense of the greater number of the whole, as that of the community. The reasons assigned would not be applicable if the proceeds of the taxes were paid in tribute, or expended in foreign countries.
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In the presidential campaign ofhe decided to limit his obvious ambitions for the time being and settled into the vice-presidency under the administration of John Quincy Adams. A community may possess all the necessary moral qualifications, in so high a degree, as to be capable of self-government under the most adverse circumstances; while, on the other hand, another may be so sunk in ignorance and vice, as to be incapable of forming a conception of liberty, or of living, even when most favored by circumstances, under any other than an absolute and despotic government.
The advantages of possessing the control of the powers of the government, and, thereby, of its honors and emoluments, are, of themselves, exclusive of all other considerations, ample to divide even such a community into two great hostile parties.
If the whole community had the same interests, so that the interests of each and every portion would oh so affected by the action of the government, that the laws which oppressed or impoverished one portion, would necessarily oppress and impoverish all others — or the reverse — then the right of suffrage, of itself, would be all-sufficient to gobernment the tendency of the government to oppression and abuse of its powers.
In none is it stronger than in man.
It is, indeed, the single, or one powerwhich excludes the negative, and constitutes absolute government; and not the number in whom the power is vested. The noted biographer disquisitiom Calhoun, Charles M. So great is their difference in this respect, that, just as the one or the other element predominates in the construction of any government, in the same proportion will the character Edition: To call any other so, would be impious.
US Political Thought, Notes on Calhoun’s A Disquisition on Government
Direct quotes have been marked as such. To their successful application may be fairly traced the subsequent advance of our race in civilization and intelligence, of which we now enjoy the benefits. Personalities were at odds; political ambitions clashed. The effect of this is, to make the different orders or classes in an aristocracy, or monarchy, far more jealous and watchful of encroachment on their respective rights; and more resolute and persevering in resisting attempts to concentrate power in any one class or order.
On the contrary, the line between the two forms, in popular governments, is so imperfectly understood, that honest and sincere friends of the constitutional form not unfrequently, instead of jealously watching and arresting their tendency to degenerate into their absolute forms, not only regard it with approbation, but employ all their powers to add to its strength and to increase its impetus, in the vain hope of making the government more perfect and popular.
Where the organism is perfect, every interest will be truly and fully represented, and of course the whole community must be so. Being the party in possession of the government, they will, from the same constitution of man which makes government necessary to protect society, be in favor of the powers granted by the constitution, and opposed to the restrictions intended to limit them.
There is but one certain mode in which this result can be secured; and that is, by the adoption of some restriction or limitation, which shall so effectually prevent any one interest, or combination of interests, from obtaining the exclusive control of the government, as to render hopeless all attempts directed to that end.
The cause is to be found in the same constitution of our nature which makes government indispensable. Such being the case, the interest of each individual may be safely confided to the majority, or voice of his portion, against that of all others, and, of course, the government itself.
But it is manifest that the right of suffrage, in making these changes, transfers, in reality, the actual control over the government, from those who make and execute the laws, to the body of the community; and, thereby, places the powers of the government as fully in the mass of the community, as they would be if they, in fact, had assembled, made, and executed the laws themselves, without the intervention of representatives or agents.
Such being the case, the interest of each individual may be safely confided to the majority, or voice of his portion, against that of all others, and, of course, the government itself. To effect this, it would be necessary to go one step further, and make the several departments the organs of the distinct interests or portions of the community; and to clothe each with a negative on the others. It is thus the two come to be confounded, and a part made identical with the whole.
In the government of the concurrent majority, on the contrary, the same cause which prevents such strife, as the means of obtaining power, and which makes it the interest of each portion to conciliate and promote the interests of the others, would exert a powerful influence towards purifying and elevating the character of the government and the people, morally, as well as politically.
Having assumed these, as unquestionable phenomena of our nature, I shall, without further remark, proceed to the investigation of the primary and important question — What is that constitution of our nature, which, while it impels man to associate with his kind, renders it impossible for society to exist without government?
This great advantage it derives from its different structure, especially that of the executive department; and the character of its conservative principle. The combination of practical politics and a noted preference for metaphysical discourse gave his speeches and writings a distinct tone.
Very different is the case as to constitution. For of all the causes which contribute to form the character of a people, those by which power, influence, and standing in the government are most certainly and readily obtained, are, by far, the most powerful. Trust and Political Constitutions.
John C. Calhoun, A Disquisition on Government – PhilPapers
More cannot be safely or rightly allotted to it. And it is thus, also that all the rights, powers, and immunities of the whole people come to be calboun to the numerical majority; and, among others, the supreme, sovereign authority of establishing and abolishing governments at pleasure.
For, as the community becomes populous, wealthy, refined, and highly civilized, the difference between the rich and the poor will become more strongly marked; and the number of the ignorant and dependent greater in proportion to the rest of the community.
From the nature of popular governments, the control of its powers is vested in the many; while military power, to be efficient, must be vested in a single individual.