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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With them, profitable employments are diminished to the same extent, and population and wealth correspondingly decreased. On the contrary, its greatest praise — its proudest distinction is, that an all-wise Providence has reserved it, as the noblest and highest reward for the development of gogernment faculties, moral and intellectual.

To the extent that either may be defective, to the same extent the government would fall short of fulfilling its end.

This is its aim—and when this is attained, its end is fulfilled. Indeed, however imperfect the organism, it must have more or less effect in diminishing such tendency.

Summary: A Disquisition On Government by John C. Calhoun | Craig W. Wright

The one is the power of acting and the other the power of preventing or arresting action. Calhoun, June 18, William M. The first and leading error which arises from overlooking the distinction between the numerical majority and the concurrent majority is to confound the numerical majority with the people as a whole.

I still remember his advice jogn me so many years ago: History of Western Philosophy.

In a more advanced stage, when communities had passed from the barbarous to the civilized state, discipline, strategy, weapons of increased power, and money — as the means of meeting increased expense — became additional and important elements. It kohn finally control elections and appointments to offices, as well as acts of legislation, to the great increase of the feelings of animosity, and of the fatal tendency to a complete alienation between the sections.

If it do not, it will prove, in practice, to be, not a constitution, but a cumbrous and useless machine, which must be speedily superseded and laid aside, for some other more simple, and disquisitjon suited to their condition. It is the first in the order of things, and in the dignity goverhment its object; that of society being primary—to preserve and perfect our race; and that of government secondary and subordinate, to preserve and perfect society.

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A disquisition on government

Its effect, then, is, to cause the different interests, portions, or orders—as the case may 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 promote 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.

The question involves difficulties which, from the earliest ages, wise and good men have attempted to overcome—but hitherto with but partial success. But the dread of such a resort must necessarily lead the government to prepare to meet force in order to protect itself; and hence, of necessity, force becomes the conservative principle of all such governments. Thus the United States, as a simple merchant-agrarian society, got on well enough for a time, despite the failure of its Constitution to allow for the negative veto.

For when these, of themselves, shall exert sufficient influence to stay the hand of power, then government will be no longer necessary to protect society, nor constitutions needed to prevent government from abusing its powers. All strife and struggle would cease as to who should be elected to make and execute them. Clemson, June 15, 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.

Constitutional governments, of whatever form, are, indeed, much more similar to each other, in their structure and character, than they are, respectively, to the absolute governments, even of their own class.

Instead, he became a sectionalist, convinced by the accelerating divergence of interest between the North and the South, and by the increasing power of the former unfairly to press its advantage, that only a rearrangement of the political balance could save the Union in the long run. He exerted his efforts on behalf of the Union in its dispute with Great Britain over the territory that later became Oregon.

So great is their difference in this respect, that, just as the one or the other element predominates in the construction of any government, in the same proportion will the character of the government and the people rise or sink in the scale of patriotism and virtue.


To their successful application may be fairly traced the subsequent advance of our race in civilization and intelligence, of which we now enjoy the benefits. Even this is no easy task; but the two united cannot possibly be made equal.

And hence, although it may be true, that a people may not have as much liberty as they are fairly entitled to, and are capable of enjoying — yet the reverse is dissquisition true — that no people can long possess more than they are fairly entitled to.

It has, accordingly, in common with them, the same tendency to oppression and abuse of power. The principle, in all communities, according to these numerous and various causes, assigns to power and liberty their proper spheres. The system, if continued, must end, not only in subjecting the industry and property of the weaker section to the control of the stronger, but in proscription and political disfranchisement.

Online Library of Liberty

At first, they might command some respect, and do something to stay the march of encroachment; but they would, in the progress of the contest, be regarded as mere abstractionists; and, indeed, deservedly, if they should cwlhoun the folly nohn supposing that the party in possession of the ballot box and the physical force of the country, could be successfully resisted by an appeal to reason, truth, justice, or the obligations imposed by the constitution.

When this right is properly guarded, and the people sufficiently enlightened to understand their own rights and the interests of the community, and duly to appreciate the motives and conduct of those appointed to make and execute the laws, it is all-sufficient to give dsquisition those who elect, effective control over those they have elected.

Such an organism, then, as will furnish the means by which resistance may be systematically and peaceably made on the part of the ruled, to oppression and abuse of power on the part of the rulers, is the first and indispensable step towards forming a constitutional government. And hence their encroachments on liberty, and the danger to which it is exposed under such governments.