Lysander Spooner quotes

  • The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: Your money, or your life. And many, if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Men #Facts #Threat

  • Vices are those acts by which a man harms himself or his property. Crimes are those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Men #Vices #Crime

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

    #Freedom #Men #Years

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Taken #Men #Rights

  • Vices are simply the errors which a man makes in his search after his own happiness. Unlike crimes, they imply no malice toward others, and no interference with their persons or property.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Men #Errors #Liberty

  • Government is in reality established by the few; and these few assume the consent of all the rest, without any such consent being actually given.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Reality #Government #Assuming

  • The principle that the majority have a right to rule the minority, practically resolves all government into a mere contest between two bodies of men, as to which of them shall be masters, and which of them slaves; a contest, that-however bloody-can, in the nature of things, never be finally closed, so long as man refuses to be a slave.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Men #Two #Long

  • For everybody has a natural right to defend his own person and property against aggressors, but also to go to the assistance and defence of everybody else, whose person or property is invaded. The natural right of each individual to defend his own person and property against an aggressor, and to go to the assistance and defence of every one else whose person or property is invaded, is a right without which men could not exist on earth.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Men #Earth #Citizenship

  • Man, no doubt, owes many other moral duties to his fellow men; such as to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, care for the sick, protect the defenseless, assist the weak, and enlighten the ignorant. But these are simply moral duties, of which each man must be his own judge, in each particular case, as to whether, and how, and how far, he can, or will perform them.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Men #Sick #Judging

  • If our fathers, in 1776, had acknowledged the principle that a majority had the right to rule the minority, we should never have become a nation; for they were in a small minority, as compared with those who claimed the right to rule over them.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Father #Historical #Majority

  • Those who are capable of tyranny are capable of perjury to sustain it.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Perjury #Tyranny #Capable

  • And yet we have what purports, or professes, or is claimed, to be a contract—the Constitution—made eighty years ago, by men who are now all dead, and who never had any power to bind us, but which (it is claimed) has nevertheless bound three generations of men, consisting of many millions, and which (it is claimed) will be binding upon all the millions that are to come; but which nobody ever signed, sealed, delivered, witnessed, or acknowledged; and which few persons, compared with the whole number that are claimed to be bound by it, have ever read, or even seen, or ever will read, or see.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Men #Numbers #Years

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Government #Constitution #Cases

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Government #Law #Judging

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

    #Men #Political #Liberty

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Government #Views #Support

  • Vices are not crimes.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Vices #Prison #Crime

  • A man is none the less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years. Neither are a people any the less slaves because permitted periodically to choose new masters.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Men #Years #People

  • Our constitutions purport to be established by 'the people,' and, in theory, 'all the people' consent to such government as the constitutions authorize. But this consent of 'the people' exists only in theory. It has no existence in fact. Government is in reality established by the few; and these few assume the consent of all the rest, without any such consent being actually given.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Reality #Government #People

  • The Rothschilds, and that class of money-lenders of whom they are the representatives and agents - men who never think of lending a shilling to their next-door neighbors, for purposes of honest industry, unless upon the most ample security, and at the highest rate of interest - stand ready, at all times, to lend money in unlimited amounts to those robbers and murderers, who call themselves governments, to be expended in shooting down those who do not submit quietly to being robbed and enslaved.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Men #Thinking #Doors

  • And the men who loan money to governments, so called, for the purpose of enabling the latter to rob, enslave, and murder their people, are among the greatest villains that the world has ever seen. And they as much deserve to be hunted and killed (if they cannot otherwise be got rid of) as any slave traders, robbers, or pirates that ever lived.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Men #People #Pirate

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Law #Slave #Authority

  • The secret ballot makes a secret government; and a secret government is a secret band of robbers and murderers.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Government #Secret #Band

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Party #Character #Fire

  • The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit ... Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do ... He does not keep "protecting" you by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Taken #Responsibility #Liberty

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Character #Men #Names

  • The Constitution has no inherent authority or obligation. It has no authority or obligation at all, unless as a contract between man and man. And it does not so much as even purport to be a contract between persons now existing.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Men #Doe #Constitution

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Rights #Majority #Minorities

  • The strong are always free by virtue of their superior strength. So long as government is a mere contest as to which of two parties shall rule the other, the weaker must always succumb. And whether the contest be carried on with ballots or bullets, the principle is the same; for under the theory of government now prevailing, the ballot either signifies a bullet, or it signifies nothing. And no one can consistently use a ballot, unless he intends to use a bullet, if the latter should be needed to insure submission to the former.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Strong #Party #Government

  • No government knows any limits to its power except the endurance of the people.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Power #Government #People

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Exercise #Government #Law

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Country #Limits #United States

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Law #Government #Unjust

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Names #Perfect #Gold

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Government #Tyrants #Revolution

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Country #Government #Class

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Responsibility #Men #Law

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Numbers #People #Adoption

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Government #People #Liberty

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Two #Dominion #Identical

  • There has been no clearer principle of English or American constitutional law than that, in criminal cases, it is not only the power and duty of juries to judge what are the facts, what is the law, and what is the moral intent of the accused; but that it is also their power, and their primary and paramount duty, to judge the justice of the law, and to hold all laws invalid, that are, in their opinion, unjust or oppressive, and find all persons guiltless in violating, or resisting the execution of, such laws.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #War #Law #Justice

  • Children learn many principles of natural law at a very early age. For example: they learn that when one child has picked up an apple or a flower, it is his, and that his associates must not take it from him against his will.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Children #Flower #Law

  • No body of men can be said to authorize a man to act as their agent, to the injury of a third person.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Men #Agents #Body

  • If those persons, who fancy themselves gifted with both the power and the right to define and punish other men's vices, would but turn their thoughts inwardly, they would probably find that they have a great work to do at home; and that, when that shall have been completed, they will be little disposed to do more towards correcting the vices of others, than simply to give to others the results of their experience and observation.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Home #Men #Giving

  • For a government to declare a vice to be a crime, and to punish it as such, is an attempt to falsify the very nature of things. It is as absurd as it would be to declare truth to be a falsehood, or falsehood a truth.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Truth #Government #Vices

  • The 'nations,' as they are called, with whom our pretended ambassadors, secretaries, presidents, and senators profess to make treaties, are as much myths as our own. On general principles of law and reason, there are no such 'nations.' ... Our pretended treaties, then, being made with no legitimate or bona fide nations, or representatives of nations, and being made, on our part, by persons who have no legitimate authority to act for us, have intrinsically no more validity than a pretended treaty made by the Man in the Moon with the king of the Pleiades.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Kings #Moon #Men

  • No principle, that is possible to be named, can be more self-evidently false than this; or more self-evidently fatal to all political freedom. Yet it triumphed in the field, and is now assumed to be established. If it really be established, the number of slaves, instead of having been diminished by the war, has been greatly increased; for a man, thus subjected to a government that he does not want, is a slave.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #War #Men #Self

  • The principle, on which the war was waged by the North, was simply this: That men may rightfully be compelled to submit to, and support, a government that they do not want; and that resistance, on their part, makes them traitors and criminals.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #War #Men #Support

  • The purpose and effect of [land titles] have been to maintain, in the hands of robber, or slave holding class, a monopoly of all lands, and, as far as possible, of all other means of creating wealth; and thus to keep the great body of labourers in such a state of poverty and dependence, as would compel them to sell their labour to their tyrants for the lowest prices at which life could be sustained
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Mean #Hands #Land

  • The only idea they have ever manifested as to what is a government of consent, is this - that it is one to which everybody must consent, or be shot.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Government #Ideas #Shots

  • No man can delegate,... any right of arbitrary dominion over a 3rd person; for that would imply a right in the 1st person, not only to make the 3rd person his slave, but also a right to dispose of him as a slave to still other persons. Any contract to do this is necessarily a criminal one...To call such a contract a “constitution” does not at all lessen its criminality, or add to its validity.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Men #Criminals #Doe

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Men #Rights #Self

  • All restraints upon man's natural liberty, not necessary for the simple maintenance of justice, are of the nature of slavery, and differ from each other only in degree.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Freedom #Simple #Men

  • I was put into jail as I was going to the shoemaker's to get a shoe which was mended. When I was let out the next morning, I proceeded to finish my errand, and, having put on my mended shoe, joined a huckleberry party, who were impatient to put themselves under my conduct; and in half an hour - for the horse was soon tackled - was in the midst of a huckleberry field, on one of our highest hills, two miles off, and then the State was nowhere to be seen.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Morning #Horse #Party

  • 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. And whenever any number of men, calling themselves a government, do anything to another man, or to his property, which they had no right to do as individuals, they thereby declare themselves trespassers, robbers, or murderers, according to the nature of their acts.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Men #Rights #Self

  • All the great establishments, of every kind, now in the hands of a few proprietors, but employing a great number of wage laborers, would be broken up; for few or no persons, who could hire capital and do business for themselves would consent to labour for wages for another.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Hands #Numbers #Broken

  • No State shall pass any law impairing the [natural] obligation of contracts.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Law #Natural #States

  • And there is no difference, in principle - but only in degree - between political and chattel slavery. The former, no less than the latter, denies a man's ownership of himself and the products of his labor; and asserts that other men may own him, and dispose of him and his property, for their uses, and at their pleasure.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Men #Differences #Political

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Years #Age #Facts

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Men #Practice #Special

  • There can be no criminal intent in resisting injustice.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Criminals #Injustice

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Practice #Enemy #Criminals

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Numbers #Government #Soldier

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Creating #Law #Banking

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Men #Married #Natural

  • 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.'
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Men #Rights #Surrender

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Lying #Government #Execution

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Passion #Men #Justice

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Giving Up #Apology #Men

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Law #Liberty #Ruffian

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

    #Men #Law #Doe

  • Money is the great instrumentality for manufacturing.
    -- Lysander Spooner

  • 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.
    -- Lysander Spooner

    #Men #May #Degrees