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Lysander Spooner's Quotes

Lysander Spooner profile photo

Born: 1970-01-01
Profession: Philosopher
Nation: American
Biography of Lysander Spooner

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Any rule, not existing in the nature of things, or that is not permanent, universal and inflexible in its application, is no law, according to any correct definition of the term law.

Tags: Law, Nature, Rule

But for their right to judge of the law, and the justice of the law, juries would be no protection to an accused person, even as to matters of fact; for, if the government can dictate to a jury any law whatever, in a criminal case, it can certainly dictate to them the laws of evidence.

Tags: Government, Judge, Justice

But that the people are stronger than the government, and will resist in extreme cases, our governments would be little or nothing else than organized systems of plunder and oppression.

Tags: Else, Government, Stronger

Doing a thing by law, or according to law, is only carrying the law into execution. And punishing a man by, or according to, the sentence or judgment of his peers, is only carrying that sentence or judgment into execution.

Tags: Carrying, Judgment, Law

Doubtless the most miserable of men, under the most oppressive government in the world, if allowed the ballot, would use it, if they could see any chance of thereby ameliorating their condition.

Tags: Chance, Government, Men

If a jury have not the right to judge between the government and those who disobey its laws, and resist its oppressions, the government is absolute, and the people, legally speaking, are slaves.

Tags: Between, Government, Judge

If any man's money can be taken by a so-called government, without his own personal consent, all his other rights are taken with it; for with his money the government can, and will, hire soldiers to stand over him, compel him to submit to its arbitrary will, and kill him if he resists.

Tags: Government, Him, Money

If it be said that the consent of the strongest party in a nation, is all that is necessary to justify the establishment of a government that shall have authority over the weaker party, it may be answered that the most despotic governments in the world rest upon that very principle, viz.: the consent of the strongest party.

Tags: Government, May, Said

If men were but to read the New Testament with the same tone and emphasis, with which they do other books, and were to keep out of mind the idea of its being sacred, they would be disgusted with the credulity, and the want of intellect, reason and judgment, that is apparent in it.

Tags: Keep, Men, Mind

If taxation without consent is robbery, the United States government has never had, has not now, and is never likely to have, a single honest dollar in its treasury. If taxation without consent is not robbery, then any band of robbers have only to declare themselves a government, and all their robberies are legalized.

Tags: Government, Honest, Single

If the works of Jesus were so much more wonderful than man could perform as to deserve to be called miracles, was it not nonsense to caution his disciples so strongly against being deluded by the works of others?

Tags: Jesus, Others, Wonderful

If two individuals enter into a contract to commit trespass, theft, robbery or murder upon a third, the contract is unlawful and void, simply because it is a contract to violate natural justice, or men's natural rights.

Tags: Justice, Men, Rights

It cannot be said that the Constitution formed 'the people of the United States,' for all time, into a corporation. It does not speak of 'the people' as a corporation, but as individuals. A corporation does not describe itself as 'we,' nor as 'people,' nor as 'ourselves.' Nor does a corporation, in legal language, have any 'posterity.'

Tags: Cannot, Legal, Time

It is a natural impossibility for any man to make a binding contract, by which he shall surrender to others a single one of what are commonly called his 'natural, inherent, inalienable rights.'

Tags: Others, Rights, Single

It is manifest that the only security against the tyranny of the government lies in forcible resistance to the execution of the injustice; because the injustice will certainly be executed, unless it be forcibly resisted.

Tags: Against, Government, Lies

It is perfectly clear, in the first place, that the constitution of the United States did not, of itself, create or establish slavery as a new institution; or even give any authority to the state governments to establish it as a new institution. The greatest sticklers for slavery do not claim this.

Tags: Give, Greatest, Place

It is self-evident that no number of men, by conspiring, and calling themselves a government, can acquire any rights whatever over other men, or other men's property, which they had not before, as individuals.

Tags: Government, Men, Whatever

It is with government paper, and bank paper, as it is with the paper of private persons; that is, it is worth just what can be delivered in redemption of it, and no more. We all understand that the notes of the Astors, and Stewarts, and Vanderbilts, though issued by millions, and tens of millions, are really worth their nominal values.

Tags: Government, Understand, Worth

Legally speaking, the term 'public rights' is as vague and indefinite as are the terms 'public health,' 'public good,' 'public welfare,' and the like. It has no legal meaning, except when used to describe the separate, private, individual rights of a greater or less number of individuals.

Tags: Good, Health, Legal

Legally speaking, there are no such things as 'public rights,' as distinguished from individual rights. Legally speaking, there is no such creature or thing as 'the public.'

Tags: Individual, Public, Rights

Majorities, as such, afford no guarantees for justice. They are men of the same nature as minorities. They have the same passions for fame, power, and money, as minorities; and are liable and likely to be equally - perhaps more than equally, because more boldly - rapacious, tyrannical and unprincipled, if intrusted with power.

Tags: Men, Money, Nature

Martyrdom is evidence only of a man's honesty - it is no evidence that he is not mistaken. Men have suffered martyrdom for all sorts of opinions in politics and in religion; yet they could not therefore have all been in the right; although they could give no stronger evidence that they believed themselves in the right.

Tags: Men, Politics, Religion

Men's moral principles are weak enough without their being made subordinate to selfishness; and their selfishness is quite active enough, without any such effort as Christianity makes to constitute it the mainspring of all their conduct.

Tags: Enough, Men, Moral

No court presumes to tell a jury that they are to try a capital case with the same indifference and unconcern as to consequences, that they would a case where the results of their decision would be less important.

Tags: Decision, Tell, Try

Now a slave is not 'held' by any legal contract, obligation, duty, or authority, which the laws will enforce. He is 'held' only by brute force. One person beats another until the latter will obey him, work for him, if he require it, or do nothing if he require it.

Tags: Him, Legal, Work

Now it is clear, that if the government can exclude, on account either of their opinions or feelings, any persons thus drawn by lot, the trial is no longer a trial by 'the country,' but only by a portion of the country.

Tags: Country, Feelings, Government

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Much more quotes by Lysander Spooner below the page.

One essential of a free government is that it rest wholly on voluntary support. And one certain proof that a government is not free, is that it coerces more or less persons to support it, against their will.

Tags: Against, Free, Government

Practically and commercially speaking, a dollar is not necessarily a specific thing, made of silver, or gold, or any other single metal, or substance. It is only such a quantum of market value as exists in a given piece of silver or gold.

Tags: Metal, Single, Value

Slavery is a wrong to each individual enslaved; and not merely to the first of a series. Natural law, therefore, as much forbids the enslaving of the child, as if the wrong of enslaving the parent had never been perpetrated.

Tags: Child, Law, Wrong

Slavery, if it can be legalized at all, can be legalized only by positive legislation. Natural law gives it no aid. Custom imparts to it no legal sanction.

Tags: Law, Legal, Positive

The apology, that is constantly put forth for the injustice of government, viz., that a man must consent to give up some of his rights, in order to have his other rights protected - involves a palpable absurdity, both legally and politically.

Tags: Give, Government, Put

The commerce of a free people is many times more valuable than that of slaves. Freemen produce and consume vastly more than slaves. They have therefore more to buy and more to sell. Hence the free states have a direct pecuniary interest in the civil freedom of all the other states. Commerce between free and slave states is not reciprocal or equal.

Tags: Between, Free, Freedom

The desertion of Jesus, by his followers, furnishes an argument in support of the supposition that he attempted to be king of the Jews, rather than that he was a superior being.

Tags: Jesus, Rather, Support

The imaginations of believers have dressed up and exaggerated the excellence of the style and matter of the New Testament generally, in the same manner, in which they have the moral instructions of Jesus.

Tags: Jesus, Matter, Moral

The laws recognize no obligation on the part of the slave to labor for or serve his master. If he refuse to labor, the law will not interfere to compel him. The master must do his own flogging, as in the case of an ox or a horse.

Tags: Him, Horse, Law

The mental capacity of a person to make reasonable contracts, is the only criterion, by which to determine his legal capacity to make obligatory contracts. And his mental capacity to make reasonable contracts is certainly not to be determined by the fact that he is, or is not, twenty-one years of age.

Tags: Age, Fact, Legal

The mere toleration of the slave trade could not make slavery itself - the right of property in man - lawful any where; not even on board the slave ship. Toleration of a wrong is not law.

Tags: Law, Slavery, Wrong

The number who actually consented to the Constitution of the United States, at the first, was very small. Considered as the act of the whole people, the adoption of the Constitution was the merest farce and imposture, binding upon nobody.

Tags: Act, Small, Whole

The rescue of a person, who is assaulted, or restrained of his liberty, without authority of law, is not only morally, but legally, a meritorious act; for every body is under obligation to go to the assistance of one who is assailed by assassins, robbers, ravishers, kidnappers, or ruffians of any kind.

Tags: Body, Law, Liberty

The right and the physical power of the people to resist injustice, are really the only securities that any people ever can have for their liberties. Practically no government knows any limit to its power but the endurance of the people.

Tags: Endurance, Government, Power

The right of absolute and irresponsible dominion is the right of property, and the right of property is the right of absolute, irresponsible dominion. The two are identical; the one necessarily implying the other.

Tags: Absolute, Dominion, Property

The right of revolution, which tyrants, in mockery, accord to mankind, is no legal right under a government; it is only a natural right to overturn a government.

Tags: Government, Legal, Revolution

The single despot stands out in the face of all men, and says: I am the State: My will is law: I am your master: I take the responsibility of my acts: The only arbiter I acknowledge is the sword: If any one denies my right, let him try conclusions with me.

Tags: Him, Men, Single

The trial by jury is a trial by 'the country,' in contradistinction to a trial by the government. The jurors are drawn by lot from the mass of the people, for the very purpose of having all classes of minds and feelings, that prevail among the people at large, represented in the jury.

Tags: Country, Feelings, Government

The trial by jury might safely be introduced into a despotic government, if the jury were to exercise no right of judging of the law, or the justice of the law.

Tags: Government, Justice, Law

The very idea of law originates in men's natural rights. There is no other standard, than natural rights, by which civil law can be measured. Law has always been the name of that rule or principle of justice, which protects those rights. Thus we speak of natural law.

Tags: Justice, Law, Men

There is not, in the Constitution, a syllable that implies that persons, born within the territorial limits of the United States, have allegiance imposed upon them on account of their birth in the country, or that they will be judged by any different rule, on the subject of treason, than persons of foreign birth.

Tags: Born, Country, Within

There is perhaps not an enlightened Christian in America who, notwithstanding he may believe that, at the time of Jesus, men were possessed of devils, believes that they ever have been in any other instance, either before or since.

Tags: May, Men, Time

Those who deny the right of a jury to protect an individual in resisting an unjust law of the government, deny him all defence whatsoever against oppression.

Tags: Government, Him, Law

To deprive mankind of their natural right and power of creating wealth for themselves, is as great a tyranny as it is to rob them of it after they have created it. And this is done by all laws against honest banking.

Tags: Done, Great, Power

To measure prices by a currency that is called by the same names as gold, but that is really inferior in value to gold, and then - because those prices are nominally higher than gold prices - to say that they are inflated, relatively to gold, is a perfect absurdity.

Tags: Gold, Perfect, Value

To say that majorities, as such, have a right to rule minorities, is equivalent to saying that minorities have, and ought to have, no rights, except such as majorities please to allow them.

Tags: Except, Rights, Saying

What is the motive to the secret ballot? This, and only this: Like other confederates in crime, those who use it are not friends, but enemies; and they are afraid to be known, and to have their individual doings known, even to each other.

Tags: Afraid, Friends, Secret

When a man says he is building a house for himself and his posterity, he does not mean to be understood as saying that he has any thought of binding them, nor is it to be inferred that he is so foolish as to imagine that he has any right or power to bind them, to live in it.

Tags: Mean, Power, Saying

Who are ever taxed? Individuals only. Who have property that can be taxed? Individuals only. Who can give their consent to be taxed? Individuals only. Who are ever taxed without their consent? Individuals only. Who, then, are robbed, if taxed without their consent? Individuals only.

Tags: Give, Property, Robbed

But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain - that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.

Tags: Another, Government, Whether

A man is no less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years.

Tags: Choose, Less, Once

The only security men can have for their political liberty, consists in keeping their money in their own pockets.

Tags: Men, Money, Political

If the jury have no right to judge of the justice of a law of the government, they plainly can do nothing to protect the people against the oppressions of the government; for there are no oppressions which the government may not authorize by law.

Tags: Government, Judge, Justice

That no government, so called, can reasonably be trusted, or reasonably be supposed to have honest purposes in view, any longer than it depends wholly upon voluntary support.

Tags: Government, Honest, Support

A slave government is an oligarchy; and one, too, of the most arbitrary and criminal character.

Tags: Character, Government, Slave

In reality there is no such thing as an inflation of prices, relatively to gold. There is such a thing as a depreciated paper currency.

Tags: Gold, Paper, Reality

Jesus never instructed men to do what was right because it was right; yet this is the true reason why they should do it.

Tags: Jesus, Men, True

Majorities and minorities cannot rightfully be taken at all into account in deciding questions of justice.

Tags: Cannot, Justice, Questions

Money is the great instrumentality for manufacturing.

Tags: Great, Money

The law does not require a man to cease to be a man, and act without regard to consequences, when he becomes a juror.

Tags: Act, Cease, Law

The secret ballot makes a secret government; and a secret government is a secret band of robbers and murderers.

Tags: Government, Makes, Secret

There can be no criminal intent in resisting injustice.

Tags: Criminal, Injustice, Intent

A government that can at pleasure accuse, shoot, and hang men, as traitors, for the one general offence of refusing to surrender themselves and their property unreservedly to its arbitrary will, can practice any and all special and particular oppressions it pleases.

Tags: Government, Men, Special

A man who is without capital, and who, by prohibitions upon banking, is practically forbidden to hire any, is in a condition elevated but one degree above that of a chattel slave. He may live; but he can live only as the servant of others; compelled to perform such labor, and to perform it at such prices, as they may see fit to dictate.

Tags: Labor, May, Others

A man's 'original and natural right' to make all contracts that are 'intrinsically obligatory,' and to coerce the fulfillment of them, is one of the most valuable and indispensable of all human possessions.

Tags: Human, Natural, Valuable

A man's natural rights are his own, against the whole world; and any infringement of them is equally a crime, whether committed by one man, or by millions; whether committed by one man, calling himself a robber, (or by any other name indicating his true character,) or by millions, calling themselves a government.

Tags: Character, Government, True

A married woman has the same natural right to acquire and hold property, and to make all contracts that she is mentally competent to make reasonably, as has a married man, or any other man.

Tags: Married, She, Woman

A traitor is a betrayer - one who practices injury, while professing friendship. Benedict Arnold was a traitor, solely because, while professing friendship for the American cause, he attempted to injure it. An open enemy, however criminal in other respects, is no traitor.

Tags: American, Enemy, Friendship

All governments, the worst on earth, and the most tyrannical on earth, are free governments to that portion of the people who voluntarily support them.

Tags: Earth, Free, Support

All know the importance of sustaining the hopes of a sick man. The reason of this is that his nervous system is then, vastly more than in health, susceptible to the influence of particular states of the mind.

Tags: Health, Mind, Sick

All legitimate government is a mutual insurance company, voluntarily agreed upon by the parties to it, for the protection of their rights against wrong-doers. In its voluntary character it is precisely similar to an association for mutual protection against fire or shipwreck.

Tags: Character, Fire, Government

All, or nearly all, the advantage there is in fixing any constitutional limits to the power of a government, is simply to give notice to the government of the point at which it will meet with resistance.

Tags: Give, Government, Power

Any government, that is its own judge of, and determines authoritatively for the people, what are its own powers over the people, is an absolute government of course. It has all the powers that it chooses to exercise. There is no other or at least no more accurate definition of a despotism than this.

Tags: Exercise, Government, Judge

Any number of scoundrels, having money enough to start with, can establish themselves as a 'government'; because, with money, they can hire soldiers, and with soldiers extort more money; and also compel general obedience to their will.

Tags: Enough, Government, Money