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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But if, on the contrary, cunning, fraud, treachery, and party devotion be the most certain, they will be the most highly prized, and become marked features in their character. 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.

Lambton – – Oxford University Press. For, without a constitution — something to counteract the strong tendency of government to disorder and abuse, and to give stability to political institutions — there can be little progress or permanent improvement.

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, interposition, nullification, check, or balance of power — which, in fact, forms the constitution. The powers necessary for this purpose will ever prove sufficient to aggrandize those who control it, at the expense of the rest of the community. And among the civilized, the same causes have decided the question of superiority, where other circumstances are nearly equal, in favor of those whose governments have given the greatest impulse to development, progress, and improvement; that is, to those whose liberty is the largest and best secured.

So long as this state of things continues, exigencies will occur, in which the entire powers and resources of the community will be needed to defend its existence. In his prepared text, an obviously despondent Calhoun opposed the admission of California as a free state. Trust and Political Constitutions.

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

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 govrenment their efforts to better their condition.

Such a state of things would, as far as we can see, lead to endless disorder and confusion, not less destructive to our race than a state of anarchy. 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 on these, than those of the numerical majority.

It results, from what has been said, that there are two different modes in which the sense of the community ggovernment be taken; one, simply by the right of suffrage, unaided; the other, by the right through a proper organism.

So long as this state of things continues, exigencies will occur, in which the entire powers and resources of the community will be needed to defend its existence. 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.

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 efforts to obtain the control. Without this there can be no systematic, peaceful, or effective resistance to the natural tendency of each to come into conflict with the others: In all its forms, and under all its names, it results from the concurrent majority.

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By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Nor would it be less a bounty to the portion of the community which received back in disbursements more than it paid in taxes, because received as salaries for official services; or payments to persons employed in executing the works required by the government; or furnishing it with its various supplies; or any other description of public employment—instead of being bestowed gratuitously.

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

The only question would be, who was most fit; who the wisest and most capable of understanding the common interest of the whole. So deeply seated, indeed, is this tendency to conflict between the different interests or portions of the community, that it would result from the action of the government itself, even though it were possible to find a community, where the people were all of the same pursuits, placed in the same condition of life, and in every respect, so situated, as to be without inequality of condition or diversity of interests.

Calhoun first advanced it anonymously, in the South Carolina Exposition and Protest, penned during the summer and fall of for a committee of the South Carolina legislature. He regarded this precept as “the most false and dangerous of all political errors”. As the major and dominant party, they will have no need of these restrictions for their protection. But as population governmeny, 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.

Faced with largely unanticipated problems attendant upon economic change, a major influx of new people, and westward expansion, the generation of Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and John C.

It must not be overlooked, that the human race is not comprehended in a single society or community. Governemnt Disquisition on Government is a political treatise written by U.

But some communities require a far greater amount of power than others to protect them against anarchy and external dangers; and, of course, the sphere of liberty in such, must be proportionally contracted.

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, govenment concert and co-operation are almost impossible.

His inclinations and wants, calhoub and moral, irresistibly impel him to associate with his kind; and he has, accordingly, never been found, in any age or country, in any state other than the social.

If reversed — if their feelings and affections were stronger for others than for themselves, or even as strong, the necessary result would seem to be, that all individuality would be lost; and boundless and remediless disorder and confusion would ensue. In these, twelve individuals, selected without discrimination, must unanimously concur in opinion — under the obligations of an oath to find a true verdict, according to law and evidence; and this, too, not unfrequently under such great difficulty and doubt, that the ablest and most experienced judges and advocates differ in opinion, after careful examination.

In short, the Discourse offers a critique of the major presumptions and convictions upon which the American political order was founded, including consent of the governed, equality, liberty, community, public virtue and private vice, reflection and choice, accident and force.

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 Within the month, on Calhhoun 31,Calhoun died in Washington, D. What is needed additionally is to take the sense of the community in all its parts; “to give to diaquisition interest or portion of the community a negative risquisition the others,” thus ceding each portion the power to act as its own guardian. When serious wrangling erupted between Adams and Calhoun who as vice-president was also the presiding officer of the Senate over the respective powers of the executive and the legislature, the controversy spilled over into a series of public letters.


Today, with the various contending interests smeared across the country from top to bottom, one end to the other, making secession a physical impossibility, what might be described as Calhoun’s “federalism within the form” seems, if anything, more relevant to our contemporary situation than it was to the one that obtained a century and a half ago.

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Moreover, as contention disqyisition power escalated the parties would each fall under the control jhon their majorities, and then under the control of just each of their leaders. 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 understood; and when understood, the most difficult of application in practice.

On the contrary, the govermnent of the concurrent majority, where the organism johhn 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.

The right of suffrage, of itself, can do no more than give complete control to those who elect, over the conduct of those they have elected. 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 aclhoun aggrandizing themselves, instead of using them to protect and preserve society? The great importance of the object at stake, must necessarily form strong party attachments and party antipathies — attachments on the part of the members of each to their respective parties, through whose efforts they hope to accomplish an object dear to all; and antipathies to the opposite party, as presenting the only obstacle to success.

In reducing them to proper form, in applying them to practical uses, all elementary principles are liable to difficulties; but they are not, on this account, the less true, or valuable.

In doing this, it secures, at the same time, the rights and liberty of the people, regarded individually; as each portion consists of those who, whatever may be the diversity of interests among themselves, have the same interest in reference to the action of the government. In a Union such as the United States, would the several states exercise the veto power of the concurrent majority? Government must be able to repel assaults from abroad, as well as to repress violence and disorders within.

Having assumed these, as unquestionable phenomena of our nature, I shall, without further remark, proceed to the investigation of the primary and important question—What is that constitution of our nature, which, while it impels man to associate with his kind, renders it impossible for society to exist without government?

It is, indeed, the single, or one power, which excludes the negative, and constitutes absolute government; and not the number in whom the power is vested. 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.