June 1, 2020


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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He was first nominated for president in —at the age of thirty-nine—and was considered a serious candidate for that office in every election from until The residuum belongs to liberty. I devote all the time left me, to finishing the work I commenced three years ago, or more On the contrary, its greatest praise — its proudest distinction is, that an all-wise Providence jihn reserved it, as the noblest and highest reward for the development of our faculties, moral and intellectual.

Griffin Trotter – – Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 31 3: Governmeht 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. This cahoun uses cookies.

In preparing the manuscripts for the press, the editor has sedulously endeavored to preserve, not only the peculiar modes of expression, but the very words of disquisitoon author—without regard to ornaments of style or rules of criticism. This is a consequence disquisitlon necessarily results from considering the numerical as the diquisition majority. Very different is the case as to constitution. Being thus constrained, they are, in the next place, forced to regard the numerical majority, as, in effect, the entire djsquisition that is, the greater part as the whole; and the government of the greater part as the government of the whole.

The same cause, which, in governments of the numerical majority, gives to party attachments and antipathies such force, as to place party triumph and ascendency above the safety and prosperity of the community, will just as certainly give them sufficient force to overpower all regard for truth, justice, sincerity, and moral obligations of every description. In stating that force is the conservative principle of absolute, and compromise of constitutional governments, I have assumed both to be perfect in their kind; but not without bearing in mind, that few or none, in fact, have ever been so absolute as not to be under some restraint, and none so perfectly organized as to represent fully and perfectly the voice of the whole community.

In general language he sought political solutions designed to alleviate the tensions under which the American system labored. The party in favor glvernment the restrictions would be overpowered.

The first and leading error which arises from overlooking the distinction between the numerical majority and the concurrent majority is to confound the numerical majority with the people as a whole. Both works reveal a seasoned politician who had been an active participant in the nineteenth century politics of nationalism, sectionalism, and secession.


Such, indeed, is the repugnance between popular governments and force—or, to be more specific—military power—that the almost necessary consequence 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. Be it which it may, the minority, for the time, will be as much the governed or subject portion, as are the people in an aristocracy, or the subjects in a monarchy.

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

These, when the occasion requires it, will, without compulsion, and from their very nature, unite and put forth the entire force of the community in the most efficient manner, without hazard to its institutions or its liberty. Calhoun predicted that electioneering, political conspiracies, and outright fraud would be employed to mislead and distract a gullible public; inevitably, perfidious demagogues would come to rule the political scene.

But, although society and government are thus intimately connected with and dependent on each other—of the two society is the greater.

It cannot be done by instituting a higher power to control the government, and those who administer it. Such must be the end of the government of the numerical majority; and such, in brief, the process through which it must pass, in the regular course of events, before it can reach it. If such may be the effect of taxes and disbursements, when confined to their legitimate objects—that of raising revenue for the public service—some conception may be formed, how one portion of the community may be crushed, and another elevated on its ruins, by systematically perverting the power of taxation and disbursement, for the purpose of aggrandizing and building up one portion of the community at the expense of the other.

Politicians and bureaucrats would succumb to the lure of government lucre accumulated through taxation, tariff duties and public land sales. To allow to liberty, in any case, a sphere of action more extended than this assigns, would lead to anarchy; and this, probably, in the end, to a contraction instead of an enlargement of its sphere. To show, then, that the government of the concurrent majority is better calculated to fulfill them than visquisition of the numerical, it calhon only necessary to explain why the former is better suited to combine a higher degree of power and a wider scope of liberty than the latter.

Its honors and emoluments, however great, can fall to the disquisitjon of but a few, compared to the entire number of the community, and the multitude who will seek to participate in nohn.

But as population increases, wealth accumulates, and, above all, the revenues and expenditures become large — governments of this form must become less and less suited to the condition of society; until, if not in the mean time changed into governments of the concurrent majority, they must end in an appeal to force, to be followed by a radical change in its structure and character; and, most probably, into monarchy in its absolute form — as will be next explained.


Online Library of Liberty

Nor is it surprising, that under their joint influence, the community should cease to be the common centre of attachment, or that each party should find that centre only in itself. Each collects the sense of the majority. When this right is properly guarded, and the people sufficiently enlightened to understand their own rights and the interests of the community, and duly to appreciate the motives and conduct of those appointed to make and execute the laws, it is all-sufficient to give to those who elect, effective control over those they have elected.

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. You can leave a responseor trackback from your own site.

The minority party, when it becomes the majority, then follows the precedent. In his prepared text, an obviously despondent Calhoun opposed the admission of California as a free state. Instead of the vices, by which it is acquired in that of the numerical majority, the opposite virtues—truth, justice, integrity, fidelity, and all others, by which respect and confidence are inspired, would be the most certain and effectual means of acquiring it.

This is its aim — and when this is attained, its end is fulfilled. A Disquisition on Government. Individual resistance is too feeble, and the difficulty of concert and co-operation too great, unaided by such an organism, to oppose, successfully, the organized power of government, with all the means of the community at its disposal; especially in populous countries of great extent, where concert and co-operation are almost impossible.

In all its forms, and under all its names, it results from the concurrent majority. The sum total, then, of its effects, when most successful, is, to make those elected, the true and faithful representatives of those who elected them — instead of irresponsible rulers — as they would be without it; and thus, by converting it into an agency, and the rulers into agents, to divest government of all claims to sovereignty, and to retain it unimpaired to the community.

It will assign a larger sphere to power and a more contracted one to liberty, or the reverse, according to circumstances. The necessary consequence of taking the sense of the community by the concurrent majority is, as has been explained, to give to each interest or portion of the community a negative on the others.

This would truly be the sense of the entire community; for whatever diversity each interest might have within itself — as all would have the same interest in reference to the action of the government, the individuals composing each would be fully and truly represented by its own majority or appropriate organ, regarded in reference to the other interests.