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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When something must be done clahoun and when it can be done only by the united consent of all — the necessity of the case will force to a compromise — be the cause of that necessity what it may. Both works reveal a seasoned politician who had been an active participant in the nineteenth century politics of nationalism, sectionalism, and secession.
In another particular, governments of the concurrent majority have greatly the advantage. Mathias Risse – – Philosophy Compass 4 5: There, mere numbers have not the absolute control; and the wealthy and intelligent being identified in interest with the poor and ignorant of their respective portions or interests of the community, become their leaders and protectors.
Seeking a means by which such a desperate response could be avoided, Calhoun turned to the doctrine of interposition, which defended the right of a state to interpose its authority and overrule federal legislation. Without this, it is as impossible to lay any solid foundation for the science of government, as it would be to lay one for that of astronomy, without a like understanding of that constitution or law of the material world, according to which the several bodies composing the solar system mutually act on each other, and by which they are kept in their respective spheres.
The only question would be, who was most fit; who the wisest and most capable of understanding the common interest of the whole. The reasons assigned would not be applicable if the proceeds of the taxes were paid in tribute, or expended in foreign countries. In answering the important question under consideration, it is not necessary to enter into an examination of the various contrivances adopted by these celebrated governments to counteract this tendency to disorder and abuse, nor to undertake to treat of constitution in its most comprehensive sense.
To this the major party would oppose a liberal construction—one which would give to the words of the grant the broadest meaning of which they were susceptible.
So vast is this superiority, that the one, by its operation, necessarily leads to their development, while the other as necessarily prevents it — as has been fully shown. But where there are no means by which they could compel the major party to observe the restrictions, the only resort left them would be, a strict construction of the Edition: Oil on canvas by Rembrandt Peale.
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. When once formed, the community will be divided Edition: After these have thoroughly debased and corrupted the community, and all the arts and devices of party have been exhausted, the government would vibrate between the two factions for such will parties have become at each successive election.
If the whole community had the same interests, so that the interests of each and every portion would be 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 counteract the tendency of the government to oppression and abuse of its powers; and, of course, would form, of itself, a perfect constitutional government.
Either of them, without the other, would leave it comparatively feeble.
When would this power be exercised? 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. 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.
But the effect of this would be to change the government from the numerical into the concurrent majority. There is but one certain mode in which this cc 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.
Personalities were at odds; political ambitions clashed. To this erroneous opinion may be traced one of the causes, why so few attempts to form constitutional governments have succeeded; and why, of the few which have, so small a number have had durable existence.
It cannot be done by instituting a higher power to governmemt the government, and those who administer it. It is, then, manifest, taking the whole process together, that taxes must be, in effect, bounties to that portion of the community which receives more in disbursements than it pays in taxes; while, to the other which pays in taxes more than it receives in disbursements, they are johhn in reality—burthens, instead of bounties. Rives and George A. It has led, not only to mistakes in the attempts to form such governments, but to their overthrow, when cahloun have, by some good fortune, been correctly formed.
The administration and management of a government with such vast establishments must necessarily require a host of employees, agents, and officers—of whom many must be vested with high and responsible trusts, and occupy exalted stations, accompanied with much influence and patronage. But to go further, and make equality of condition essential to liberty, would be to destroy both liberty and progress. As, then, the right of suffrage, without some other provision, cannot counteract this tendency of government, risquisition next question for consideration is — What is that other provision?
On the other hand, to extend the powers of the government, so as to contract the sphere assigned to liberty, would have the same effect, by disabling individuals in their efforts to better their condition.
On the contrary, the government of the concurrent majority, where the organism is perfect, excludes the possibility of oppression, by giving to each interest, or portion, or order — where there are established classes — the means of protecting itself, by its negative, against all measures calculated to advance the peculiar interests of others at its expense.
His social feelings may, indeed, in a state of safety and abundance, combined with high intellectual and moral culture, acquire great expansion and force; but not so great as to overpower this all-pervading and essential law of animated existence. Or, to express it more fully — How can those who are invested with the powers of government be prevented from employing them, as the means of aggrandizing themselves, instead of using them to protect and preserve society?
And goevrnment the question recurs — By what means can government, without being divested of the full command of the resources of the community, be prevented from abusing its powers? But of course the existence of government is clearly dependent upon society. But to go further, and make equality of condition essential to liberty, would be to destroy both liberty and progress. In each there must, of necessity, be a governing and governed — a ruling and a subject portion.
In general language he sought political solutions designed to alleviate the disquisitipn under which the American system labored.
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For each, at the same moment, intensely participating in all the conflicting emotions of those around him, would, of course, forget himself disquisiton all that concerned him immediately, in his caljoun intermeddling with the affairs of all others; which, from his limited reason and faculties, he could neither properly understand nor manage.
It is not even a matter of choice, whether Edition: 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.
By the one or the other, the restrictions would ultimately be annulled, and the government be converted into one of unlimited powers.
There, mere numbers have not the absolute control; and the wealthy and intelligent being identified in interest with the poor and ignorant of their respective portions or interests of the community, become their leaders and protectors. The two are the opposites of each other. The documents which follow the Disquisition and Discourse proceed in chronological order.
Union and Liberty: The Political Philosophy of John C. Calhoun – Online Library of Liberty
Government must have the power to repel assaults from abroad, and to repress violence and disorder within. They indicate that the author designed to have elaborated more fully this part of the subject—and, as far as I can gather the meaning, to have shown that the State courts, in taking cognizance of cases in which the constitution, treaties, and laws of the United States are drawn in question, act, not in virtue of any provision of the constitution or laws of the United States, but by an authority independent of both.
This, too, can be accomplished only in one way — and that is, by such an organism of the government — and, if necessary for the purpose, of the community also — as will, by dividing and distributing the powers of government, give to each division or interest, through its appropriate organ, either a concurrent voice in making and executing the laws, or a veto on their execution.
Necessity will force it on all communities in some one form or another. The former of these I shall call the numerical, or absolute majority; and the latter, the concurrent, or constitutional majority. It is, accordingly, found that in the violent strifes between parties for the high and glittering prize of governmental honors and emoluments—falsehood, injustice, fraud, artifice, slander, and breach of faith, are freely resorted to, as legitimate weapons—followed by all their corrupting and debasing influences.
It is this negative power — the power of preventing or arresting the action of the government — be it called by what term it may — veto, govermment, nullification, check, or balance of power — which, in fact, forms the constitution.