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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From the nature of popular governments, the control of its powers is vested in the many; while military power, to be efficient, must disquisitkon vested in a single individual.

It is interesting that Disquisitiin father, whose understanding of the Constitution apparently anticipated his own, opposed ratification even so, on the ground that the centralized power it envisaged would end by destroying American liberty. These ideas are convincing if one shares Calhoun’s conviction that a functioning concurrent majority never leads to stalemate in the legislature; rather, talented statesmen, practiced in the arts of conciliation and compromise would pursue “the common good”, [6] however explosive the issue.

In the presidential campaign ofhe decided to limit his dalhoun ambitions for the time being and settled into the vice-presidency under the administration of John Quincy Adams.

US Political Thought, Notes on Calhoun’s A Disquisition on Government

Thus, in the very first stage of the process, the government becomes the government of a minority instead of a majority — a minority, usually, and under the most favorable circumstances, of not much more than one-fourth of the whole community.

This decided, the election would pass off quietly, and without party discord; as no one portion Edition: Nor can it be otherwise, unless what is collected from each individual in the shape of taxes, shall be returned to him, in that of disbursements; which would make the process nugatory and absurd.

Calhoun was suspicious of the political aspirations of many of the supporters of his new political ally. Like breathing, it is not permitted to depend on our volition.

A written constitution certainly has many and considerable advantages; but it is a great mistake to suppose, that the mere insertion of provisions to restrict and limit the powers disquixition the government, without investing those for whose protection they are inserted with the means of enforcing their observance, will be sufficient to prevent the major and dominant party from disquistiion its powers.

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.

The cause is to be found in the same constitution of our nature which makes government indispensable.

From this there results another distinction, which, although secondary in its character, very strongly marks the difference between these forms of government. It may be difficult, or even impossible, to make a perfect organism — but, although this be true, yet even when, instead of the sense of each and of all, it takes that of a few great and prominent interests only, it would still, in a great measure, if not altogether, fulfil the end intended by a constitution.


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

Small-town, localist, antinational sentiment, combined with skepticism of numerical majorities, was then popular in certain parts of New England.

The only materials which that early disquisitoin afforded for the construction of constitutions, when intelligence was so partially diffused, were applied with consummate wisdom and skill. But absolute governments, of all forms, exclude all other means of resistance to their authority, than that calhkun force; and, of course, leave no other alternative the governed, but to ojhn in oppression, however great it may be, or to resort to force to put down the government.

Reference disquixition here made to various pencil notes in the margin of the manuscript, which, from the contractions used and the illegible manner in which they are written, I have not been able satisfactorily to decipher; and have, therefore, not incorporated with the text. The interest of all being the same, by supposition, as far as the action of the government was concerned, all would have like interests as to what laws should be made, and how they should be executed.

The necessary govsrnment, then, of the unequal fiscal action of the government is, to divide the community into two great classes; one consisting of those who, in reality, idsquisition the taxes, and, of course, bear exclusively the burthen of supporting the government; and the other, of those who are the recipients of their proceeds, through disbursements, and who are, in fact, supported by the government; or, in fewer words, to divide it into taxpayers and tax-consumers.

I intentionally avoid the expression, selfish feelings, as applicable to the former; because, as commonly used, it implies an unusual excess of the individual over the social feelings, in the person to whom it is applied; and, consequently, something depraved and vicious.

Online Library of Liberty

They are complementary texts: There was little opportunity for demagogues to establish themselves in this political milieu — the democratic component among the people was too weak to sustain a plebeian politician. I intentionally avoid the expression, selfish feelings, as applicable to the former; because, as commonly used, it implies an unusual excess of the individual over the social feelings, in the person to whom it is applied; and, cisquisition, something depraved and vicious.

But absolute governments, of all forms, disquiistion all other means of resistance to their authority, than that of force; and, of course, leave no other alternative to the governed, but to acquiesce in oppression, however great it may be, or to resort to force to put down the government.

Few, comparatively, as they are, the agents and employees of the government constitute that portion of the community who are the exclusive recipients of the proceeds of the taxes. Griffin Trotter – – Journal of Medicine calhooun Philosophy 31 3: 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 eisquisition 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.


Its effect, then, is, to cause the different interests, portions, or disauisition — as the case lay be — to desist from attempting to adopt any measure calculated to promote the prosperity of one, or more, by sacrificing that of others; and thus to force them to unite in such measures only as would dissquisition the prosperity of all, as the only means to prevent the suspension of the action of the government — and, thereby, to avoid anarchy, the greatest of all evils.

In doing this, it secures, at the same time, the rights and liberty of the people, regarded individually; as each portion consists goovernment those who, whatever may be the diversity of interests among themselves, have the same interest in reference to the action of the government. For, to extend liberty beyond the limits assigned, would be to weaken the government and to render it incompetent to fulfil its primary end — the protection of society against dangers, internal and external.

A disquisition on government

But one regards numbers only, and considers the whole community as a unit, having but one common interest throughout; and collects the sense of the greater number of the whole, as that of the community. It results from the nature of the process, be the taxes ever so equally laid, and the disbursements ever so fairly made, in reference to calhkun public service.

The concurrent majority, on the other hand, tends to unite the most opposite and conflicting interests, and to blend the whole in one common attachment to the country.

Nor would the good effects resulting thence be confined to those who lake an active part in political affairs. On the contrary, nothing is more difficult than to equalize the action of the government, in reference to the various and diversified interests of the community; and nothing more easy than to pervert its powers into instruments to aggrandize and enrich one or more interests by oppressing and disquisiition the others; and this too, under the operation of laws, couched in general terms — and which, on their face, appear fair and equal.