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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John C. Calhoun, A Disquisition on Government – PhilPapers

But the main spring to their development, and, through this, to progress, improvement and civilization, with all their blessings, is the desire of individuals to better their condition. You are commenting using your WordPress.

If knowledge, wisdom, patriotism, and virtue, be the most certain means of acquiring them, they will be most highly appreciated and assiduously cultivated; and this would cause them to become prominent traits in the character of the people. Furthermore liberty and the progress that it engenders, bestows civilization with more security. 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.

Be it which it may, the minority, for the time, will be as much the governed or subject portion, as are ob people in an aristocracy, or the subjects in a monarchy. But one regards numbers only, and considers the whole community governmetn a idsquisition, having but disquisitiion common interest throughout; and collects the sense of the greater number of the whole, as that of the community.

But absolute governments, of all forms, exclude all other means of resistance to their authority, than that of force; and, of course, leave no other alternative to the governed, but to acquiesce in oppression, however great it may be, or to resort to force to put down the government.

But the effect of this would be to change the government from the numerical into the concurrent majority. For this purpose many devices have been resorted to, suited to the various stages of intelligence and civilization through which our race has passed, and to the different forms of government to which they have been applied.

The more perfectly it does this, the more perfectly it accomplishes its ends; but in doing disquuisition, it only changes the seat of authority, without counteracting, in calboun least, the tendency of the government to oppression and abuse of its powers.

It is only through an organism which vests each with a negative, in some one form or another, that those who have like interests in preventing the government from calgoun beyond its proper sphere, and encroaching on the rights and liberty of individuals, can cooperate peaceably and effectually in resisting the encroachments of power, and thereby preserve their rights and liberty.

A Disquisition on Government (1849)

For so long as government exists, the possession of its control, as caljoun means of directing its action and dispensing its honors and emoluments, will be an object of desire. The only materials which that early age afforded for the construction of constitutions, when intelligence was so partially diffused, were applied with consummate wisdom and skill.

Here jon the evil: For, the greater the taxes and disbursements, the greater the gain of the one and the loss of the other—and vice versa; and consequently, the more the policy of the government is calculated to increase taxes and disbursements, the more it will be favored by the one and opposed by the other.


Some of the most remarkable of these devices, whether regarded in reference to their wisdom and the skill displayed in their application, or to the permanency of their effects, are to be found risquisition the early dawn of civilization — in the institutions of the Egyptians, the Hindoos, the Chinese, and the Jews. Further, the principle could not be carried.

He attempted to develop various public projects in South Carolina and for the South generally, including plans for a railroad connecting the Gocernment and the West. Much to the dismay of the Southern strategists, their schemes to defeat the tariff came to naught.

But, although society and government are thus intimately connected with and dependent on each other — of the two society is the greater. Beneath the surface of his treatise is a systematic analysis and critique of the founding principles as set forth by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Edition: The divisions over the tariff and protectionism were intractable.

Constitution is the contrivance of man, while government is of Divine ordination. They will, it is true, in governments of the numerical majority, ultimately coalesce, and form two great parties; but not so closely as to lose entirely their separate character and existence.

I would like to thank the late Professor Charles S. But in doing this, it leaves, necessarily, all beyond it open and free to individual exertions; and thus enlarges and secures the sphere of liberty to the greatest extent which the condition of the community will admit, as has been explained. Liberty leaves each free to pursue the course he may deem best to promote his interest and happiness, as far as it may be compatible with the primary end for which government is ordained — while security gives assurance to each, that he shall not be deprived of the fruits of his exertions to better his condition.

The ultimate logic of his own doctrine of nullification, secession, was taken up as a solution by many in the South. To man, he has assigned the social and political state, as best adapted to develop the great capacities and faculties, intellectual and moral, with which he has endowed him; and has, accordingly, constituted him so as not only to impel him into the social state, but to make government necessary for his preservation and well-being. It is this mutual negative among its various conflicting interests, which invests each with the power of protecting itself—and places the rights and safety of each, where only they can be securely placed, under its own guardianship.

The only question would be, who was most fit; who the wisest and most capable of understanding the common interest of the whole. Regarded in either light, the press cannot, of itself, guard any more against the abuse of power, than suffrage; and for the same reason.

Needing no other, they would come, in time, to regard these limitations as unnecessary and improper restraints — and endeavor to elude them, with the view of increasing their power and influence.

This issue became an important practical and symbolic matter when an exceptionally high tariff was proposed in Congress early in And hence, there will be diffused throughout the whole community kind feelings between its different portions; and, instead of antipathy, a rivalry amongst them to promote the interests of each other, as far as this can be done consistently vith the interest of all.


Nor is it surprising that such should be the case; for it would seem almost impossible for any man, or body of men, to be so profoundly and thoroughly acquainted with the people of any community which has made any considerable progress in civilization and wealth, with all the diversified interests ever accompanying them, as to be able to organize constitutional governments suited to their condition.

And, hence, they would endeavor to defend and enlarge the restrictions, and to limit and contract the powers.

Union and Liberty: The Political Philosophy of John C. Calhoun – Online Library of Liberty

It is this mutual negative among its various conflicting interests, which invests each with the power of protecting itself — and places the rights and safety of each, where only they can be securely placed, under its own guardianship. Necessity will force it on all communities in some one form or another. Herein is to be found the principle which assigns to power and liberty their proper spheres, and reconciles each to the other under all circumstances.

For when these, of themselves, shall exert sufficient influence to stay the hand of power, then government will be no longer necessary to protect society, nor constitutions needed to prevent government from abusing its powers. From the very beginning, their relationship was a troubled one. 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.

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.

From what has been said, it is manifest, that this provision must be of a character calculated to disqyisition any one interest, or combination of interests, from using the powers of government to aggrandize itself at the expense of the others.

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.

It goernment assign a larger sphere to power gvernment a more contracted one to liberty, or the reverse, according to circumstances. 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.

That collection, entitled The Papers of John C. But to go further, and make equality of condition essential to liberty, would be to destroy both liberty and progress. More cannot be safely or rightly allotted to it.