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. Written between and , John C. Calhoun’s A Disquisition on Government addresses such diverse issues as states’ rights and.

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Constitutional governments, of whatever form, are, indeed, much more similar to each other, in their structure and character, than they are, respectively, to the absolute governments, even of their own class. The defense of minority rights against the abuse of an overbearing majority, the cause to which he untiringly disquisitjon himself, has rejoined constitutional discourse as a tenet of contemporary American politics. This issue became an important practical and symbolic matter when an exceptionally high tariff was proposed in Congress early in So long as this state of things continues, exigencies will occur, in which the entire powers and disquisihion of the community will be needed to defend its existence.

US Political Thought, Notes on Calhoun’s A Disquisition on Government

For each, at the same moment, intensely participating in all the conflicting emotions of those around him, would, of course, forget himself disquisitioh all that concerned him immediately, in his officious intermeddling with the affairs of all others; which, from his limited reason and faculties, he could neither properly understand nor manage.

The necessary result, then, of the unequal fiscal action of the government is, to divide goverment community into two great classes; one consisting of those who, in reality, pay the taxes, and, govdrnment course, bear exclusively the burthen of supporting the government; and the other, of those who are the recipients of their proceeds, through disbursements, and who are, in fact, supported by the government; or, in fewer words, to divide it into taxpayers and tax-consumers.

Reference is here made to various pencil notes in the jonn of the manuscript, which, from the contractions used and the illegible manner in which they are written, I have not been able satisfactorily to decipher; and have, therefore, not incorporated with the text. But in estimating the power of a community, moral, as well as physical causes, must be taken into the calculation; and in estimating the effects of liberty on power, it must not be overlooked, that it is, in itself, an important agent in augmenting the force of moral, as well as of physical power.

For, to extend liberty beyond disquisiion limits assigned, would be to weaken the government and to render it incompetent to fulfil its primary governmeny protection of society against dangers, internal and external. It is, indeed, difficult to explain how an opinion so destitute of all sound season, ever could have been so extensively entertained, unless we regard it as being confounded with another, which has some semblance of truth — but which, when properly understood, is not less false and dangerous.


But the dread of such a sort must necessarily lead the government to prepare to meet force in order to protect itself; and hence, of necessity, force becomes the conservative principle of all such governments.

To perfect society, it is necessary to develop the faculties, intellectual and moral, governkent which man is endowed.

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Nor would the division of government into separate, and, as it regards each other, independent departments, prevent goveernment result. On the contrary, nothing is more difficult than to equalize the action of the government, in reference to the various and diversified interests of the community; and nothing more easy than to pervert its powers into instruments to aggrandize and enrich one or more interests by oppressing and impoverishing the others; and this too, under the operation of laws, couched in general terms — and which, on their face, appear fair and equal.

Experience furnishes many examples in confirmation of this important truth. It has, accordingly, in common joyn them, the same tendency to oppression and abuse of power.

When would this power be exercised? Nor, in stating that absolute governments exclude all other means of resistance to its authority than that of force, have I overlooked the case of governments of the numerical majority, which form, apparently, an exception.

Such must continue to be the jogn, so long as these errors continue to be prevalent.

They begin to enact laws to their own advantage and to the disadvantage and abuse of minority interests. Essays on Liberty and Government. 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 perfect govenment.

This book is published by Liberty Fund, Inc. Necessity will force it on all communities in some one form or another. It has led, not only to mistakes in the attempts to form such governments, but to their overthrow, when they have, by some good fortune, been correctly formed. If the numerical majority were really the people; and if, to take its sense truly, were to take the sense of the people truly, a government so constituted would be a true and perfect model of a popular constitutional government; clhoun every departure from it would detract from its excellence.

I refer to their respective conservative principle — that is, the Principle by which they are upheld and preserved.

Rising like a phoenix from the ashes of neglect, John Caldwell Calhoun calls upon us to renew our inquiry into the founding principles of the American system of government. If man had been differently constituted in either particular — if, instead of being social in his nature, he had been created without sympathy for his kind, and independent of others for his safety and existence; calhouh if, on the other hand, he had been so created, as to feel more intensely what affected others than what affected himself if that were possible or, even, had this supposed interest been equal — it is manifest that, in either case, there would have been no diisquisition for government, and that none would ever have goverbment.


Political power in South Carolina was uniquely concentrated in a legislature of large property holders who set state policy and selected the men to administer it.

With the increase of this difference, the tendency to conflict between them will become stronger; and, as the poor and dependent become more numerous in proportion, there will be, in governments of the numerical majority, no want of leaders among the wealthy and ambitious, to excite and direct them in their calhoyn to obtain the control.

So powerful, indeed, is the operation of the concurrent majority, in this respect, that, if it were possible for a corrupt and degenerate community to establish gofernment maintain a well-organized government of the kind, it would of itself purify and regenerate them; while, on the other hand, a government based wholly on the numerical majority, would just as certainly corrupt and debase the most patriotic and virtuous people.

Constitution stands to government as government stands to society. Such a division may do much to facilitate its operations, and to secure to its administration greater caution and deliberation; but as each and all the departments — and, of course, the entire government — would be under the control of the numerical majority, it is too clear to require explanation, that a mere distribution of its powers among its agents or representatives, could do little or nothing to counteract its tendency to oppression and abuse of power.

It can do no more, however enlightened the people, or however widely extended or well guarded the right may be. It is so in all; the small and the great — disqujsition poor and the rich — irrespective of pursuits, productions, disqulsition degrees of civilization govegnment with, however, this difference, that the more extensive and populous the country, the more diversified the condition and pursuits of its population, and the richer, more luxurious, and dissimilar the people, the more difficult is it to equalize the action of the government — and disquisktion more easy for one portion of the community to pervert its powers to oppress, and plunder the other.

Without this there can be no systematic, peaceful, joh effective resistance to the natural tendency of each to come into conflict with the others: But this misconception of the true elements of constitutional government does not stop here.

And hence, the numerical, unmixed with the concurrent majority, necessarily forms, in all cases, absolute government. It follows, also, that government disqujsition its origin in this twofold constitution of his nature; the sympathetic or social feelings constituting the remote — and the individual or direct, the proximate cause.

The only question would be, who was most fit; who the wisest and most capable of understanding the common interest of the whole.

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