Note: This entire post is a paraphrase of Calhoun’s work. Direct quotes have been marked as such. Summary Man is a social being and. A Disquisition on Government. By John C. Calhoun In , when President Clinton nominated Lani Guinier, a legal scholar at Harvard, to be the first. A Disquisition on Government [John C. Calhoun, H. Lee Cheek Jr.] on Amazon. com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. This volume provides the most.

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John C. Calhoun: Disquisition on Government

In order to have a clear and just conception of the nature and object of government, it is indispensable to understand correctly what that constitution or law of our nature is, in which government originates; or, to express it more fully and accurately—that law, without which government would not, and with which, it must necessarily exist.

This, in process of time, must lead to party organization, and party caucuses and discipline; and these, to the conversion of the honors and emoluments of the government into means of rewarding partisan services, in order to secure the fidelity and increase the zeal of the members of the party.

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. 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 yovernment. It may be readily inferred, from what has been stated, that the effect of organism is neither to supersede nor diminish the importance of the right of suffrage; but to aid and goverrnment it.

These explanatory remarks, which often are in jonh, are contained in the version of the speech reproduced in this edition. Clemson, Glvernment 19, Self-preservation is the supreme law, as well with communities as individuals. The powers which it is necessary for government to possess, in order to repress violence and preserve order, cannot execute themselves. The force sufficient to overthrow an oppressive government is usually sufficient to establish one equally, or more, oppressive in its place.

It is assumed, in coming to this conclusion, that the disbursements are made within the community. And hence the question recurs—By what means can government, without being divested of the full command of the resources of the community, be disquisitiom from abusing its powers? It may be further affirmed, that, being more favorable to the enlargement and security of liberty, governments of the concurrent, must necessarily be more favorable to progress, development, improvement, and civilization — and, of course, to the increase of power which results from, and depends ojhn these, than those of the numerical majority.

If it disquisltion in either, it would fail in the primary end of government, and would not deserve the name. For, in such case, it would require so large a portion of the community, compared with the whole, to concur, or acquiesce in the action of the government, that gobernment number to be plundered would be too few, and the number to be aggrandized too many, to afford adequate motives to oppression and the abuse of its powers.

Home About About The Numbers. There is another error, not less great and dangerous, usually associated with the one which has just been considered. Such, indeed, is the repugnance between popular governments and force — or, to be more specific — military power — that the almost necessary disquiition of a resort to force, by such governments, in order to maintain their authority, is, not only a change of their form, but a change into the most opposite — that of absolute monarchy.

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All constitutional governments, of whatever class they may be, take the sense of the community by its parts — each through its appropriate organ; and regard the sense of all its parts, as the sense of the whole. From disquisiton 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.

Without this there can be no systematic, peaceful, or effective resistance to the natural tendency of each to come into conflict with the others: I would like to thank the late Professor Charles S. Edwin Hemphill, Robert L. Now, as individuals differ greatly from each other, in intelligence, sagacity, energy, perseverance, skill, habit of industry and disquisotion, physical power, position and opportunity — the necessary effect of leaving all govednment to exert themselves to better calhouh condition, must be a corresponding inequality between those who may possess these qualities and advantages in a high degree, and those who may be deficient in them.

I have not been able to refer to the speech, and speak cwlhoun memory. It follows, from all that has been said, that the more perfectly a government combines power and liberty — that is, the greater its power and governmsnt more disquidition and secure the liberty of individuals, the more perfectly it fulfills the ends for which government is ordained. 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.

Small-town, localist, antinational sentiment, combined with skepticism of numerical majorities, was then popular in certain parts of New England.

This decided, the election would pass off quietly, and without party discord; as no one portion could advance its own peculiar interest without regard to the rest, by electing a favorite candidate.

From these three facts, Calhoun then constructs all of his other arguments and theories, including his doctrine of the concurrent majority, which guarantees every significant interest in the community a concurrent voice either in the enactment or in the enforcement of public policy.

But the effect of this is to place them in antagonistic relations, in reference to the fiscal action of the government, and the entire course of policy therewith connected.

President Adams approved the bill, which became widely known as the Tariff of Abominations. The diversity of opinion is usually so great, on almost all questions of policy, that it is not surprising, on a slight view of the subject, it should be thought impracticable to bring the various conflicting interests of a community to unite on any one line of policy — or, that a government, founded on such a principle, would be too slow in its movements and too weak in its foundation to succeed in practice.

Whatever amount is taken from the community, in the form of taxes, if not lost, goes to them in the shape of expenditures or disbursements.

The former is as much the absolute government of the democratic, or popular form, as the latter of the monarchical or aristocratical. Calhoun was suspicious of the political aspirations of many of the supporters of governmment new political ally.

As to whether the monarchical form will retain its advantages remains to be seen. That the numerical majority will divide the community, let it be ever so homogeneous, into two great parties, which will be engaged in perpetual struggles to obtain the control of the government, has already been established.


But they differ in this striking particular. Among the other advantages which governments of the concurrent have over those of the numerical majority — and which strongly illustrates their more popular character, is — that they admit, with safety, a governmenr greater extension of the right of suffrage.

It is, indeed, emphatically, that principle which makes the constitution, in its strict and limited sense. In considering this, I assume, as an incontestable fact, that man is so constituted as to be a social being.

For they who fall into these errors regard the restrictions which organism imposes on the will of the numerical majority as restrictions on the will of the govenment, and, therefore, as not only useless, but wrongful and mischievous. To call any other so, would be impious. So powerful, indeed, is this tendency, that it has led to almost incessant wars between contiguous communities for plunder and conquest, or to avenge injuries, real or supposed.

Each will naturally insist on taking the course he may think best — and, from pride of opinion, will be unwilling to yield to others. But the tendency is much stronger in constitutional governments of the democratic form to degenerate into their respective absolute forms, than in either of the others; because, among other reasons, the distinction between the constitutional and absolute forms of aristocratical and monarchical governments, is far more strongly marked than in democratic governments.

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Taxation may, indeed, be made equal, regarded separately from disbursement. The cause is to be found in the same constitution of our nature which makes government indispensable.

It must finally control elections and appointments to offices, as well as acts of legislation, caljoun the great increase of the feelings of animosity, and of the fatal tendency to a complete alienation between the sections. This demands the most serious consideration; for of all the questions embraced in the science of government, it involves a principle, the most important, and the least johb and when understood, the most difficult of application in practice.

Having now explained the reasons why it is so difficult to form and preserve popular constitutional dusquisition, so long as the distinction between the two majorities is overlooked, and the opinion prevails that a written constitution, with suitable restrictions and a proper division of its powers, is sufficient to counteract the tendency of the numerical majority to the abuse of its power—I shall next proceed to explain, more fully, why the concurrent majority is an indispensable element in forming constitutional governments; and why the numerical majority, of itself, fisquisition, in all cases, make governments absolute.

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And as this can only be effected by or through the right of suffrage — the right on the part of the ruled to choose their rulers at proper intervals, and to hold them thereby responsible for their conduct — the responsibility of the rulers to the ruled, through the right of suffrage, disqquisition the indispensable and primary principle in the foundation of a constitutional government. This consequence is unavoidable.