Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE PUBLICK - An Inquiry into the Principles and Policy of the Government of the United States
Return to Title Page for An Inquiry into the Principles and Policy of the Government of the United States
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
TO THE PUBLICK - John Taylor, An Inquiry into the Principles and Policy of the Government of the United States 
An Inquiry into the Principles and Policy of the Government of the United States (Fredericksburg, VA.: Green and Cady, 1814).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, To wit:
be it remembered, That on the fifteenth day of November, in the thirty-eighth year of the Independence of the United States of America, john taylor, of the said District, hath deposited in this Office, the Title of a Book, the right whereof he claims as Author, in the words following, to wit: . . .
‘An Inquiry into the Principles and Policy of the Government of the United States, comprising nine sections, under the following heads: . . . I. Aristocracy. II. The Principles of the Policy of the United States, and of the English Policy. III. The Evil Moral Principles of the Government of the United States. IV. Funding V. Banking. VI. The Good Moral Principles of the Government of the United States. VII. Authority. VIII. The Mode of infusing Aristocracy into the Policy of the United States. IX. The Legal Policy of the United States. By john taylor, of Caroline county, Virginia.’
In conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United States, entitled ‘An Act for the encouragement of Learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the Authors and Proprietors of such copies during the times therein mentioned;’ and also to an Act, entituled ‘An Act supplementary to an Act, entituled, “An Act for the encouragement of Learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the Authors and Proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned;” and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of Designing, Engraving, and Etching historical and other prints.’
TO THE PUBLICK
This book being written for your use, and subject to your judgement, the means, motives and habits of the author ought to be disclosed, lest its imperfections should be ascribed to his cause, instead of his bias or inability.
Having arrived at manhood just before the commencement of the revolutionary war, the ardour of that controversy, a considerable intercourse with many of the chiefs who managed it, a service of three years in the continental army, of twelve in legislative bodies, and an experience of our policy both in poverty and affluence, inspired him with the opinions he has endeavoured to sustain. At the age of forty, his circumstances, which had been ruined by military expenses and the depreciation of paper money, having been repaired by the practice of the law, a desire of being more useful, induced him to devote the residue of his life in a private station, to the advancement of academical, agricultural, and political knowledge. These essays contain the result of his endeavours as to the last; and whatever may be their fate, he is not conscious of having written a single sentence from a bad motive.
Upon the appearance of Mr. Adams’s defence of the American constitutions, and of the essays signed Publius, but entitled the Federalist, he imbibed an opinion, that both had paid too much respect of political skeletons, constructed with fragments torn from monarchy, aristocracy and democracy, called, in these essays, the numerical analysis; and too little to the ethereal moral principles, alone able to bind governments to the interest of nations. Subsequent occurrences induced him to conclude, that a confidence in that analysis, inspired by these books, had deadened the public attention to the only means for preserving a free and moderate government. And the following essays (in which the reader will not find Mr. Adams’s erudition, nor the elegant style of Publius, because the author was not master of them) are the contemporaneous suggestions of these occurrences or of experience, designed to portray human nature in a political state, and to explain the moral principles capable of foretelling its actions, and controlling its vices.
Monarchy, aristocracy and democracy, appeared to the author to be inartificial, rude, and almost savage political fabricks; and the idea of building a new one with the materials they could afford, seemed like that of erecting a palace with materials drawn from Indian cabins. He thought that these respectable commentators, in making the attempt, had allowed little or nothing new or preeminent to the policy of the United States; had overlooked both the foundation and the beautiful entablature of its pillars; and had left mankind still enchanted within the magick circle of the numerical analysis.
Believing that the true value and real superiority of our policy consisted in its good moral principles; that these principles were the only worthy object of national affection, and the only just solution of the ill success of other governments and of the wonderful prosperity of our own; that by transplanting it upon the British substratum, maxims and measures destructive to ours, however calculated for their political system, would be introduced; that the danger of this approximation was greatly augmented, by the respect which the English form of government attracts as the work of our gallant ancestors, the source of our affection for liberty, and the solitary rival of our own; that the belief of such an affinity, would enable legislation to draw the confines of the two forms of Government so near together, that a step or even a stumble might pass from one to the other; and that a disclosure of the contrariety in their principles, might become a beacon against an exchange of good and lasting moral principles, for cobweb and fluctuating numerical balances; the author of these essays concluded, that the next age ought not to be deluded, by the silence of its predecessors, into a belief that this affinity was generally allowed.
Although the elevation of the British form of government, produced by a few moral principles, violently and of course clumsily thrust under it at different times, constituted the American observatory at the epoch of the revolution; from whence, through the telescope, necessity, new principles were discovered, now confirmed by the distinct experience of each state for periods, exceeding, when united, the duration of any one of the modifications of the British government: yet the non-existence of the supposed affinity is at once disclosed by the few words ‘balance of orders and judicial independence’. The first, indigenously implying a sovereignty of orders of men, and the second a judicial dependence upon that sovereignty; transplanted, balance is applied to powers without sovereignty, and independence to confer a judicial power never thought of in England.
By the British policy, the nation and the government is considered as one, and the passive obedience denied to the king conceded to the government, whence it alters its form and its principles, without any other concurrence than that of its parts; whereas, by ours, the nation and the government are considered as distinct, and a claim of passive obedience by the latter, would of course be equivalent to the same claim by a British king.
Instead of an affinity, a deep rooted contrariety appeared to the author of these essays to exist, in the reliance of one policy upon political law and national opinion, and of the other upon official power, for the control of official power. It seemed to him as unphilosophical to suppose that official power could be mixed with human nature without changing its qualities, as that alcohol would not change the qualities of water; and that to moderate official power by official power, was something like weakening alcohol with alcohol. On the other hand, he could not discern how publick opinion could perform the office expected of it, unless it was well instructed in those good moral principles, capable of distinguishing between laws or measures consonant to the nature of our policy, and those flowing from avarice, party zeal, ambition, or the errour of its supposed affinity to the British.
The human mind, buoyed up to the zenith of hope upon the billows of the French revolution, sunk with its wreck into the gloom of despair; and philosophers seem inclined to abandon a successful experiment, because they have been obliged to disgorge extravagant theories. It is necessary for the happiness and safety of the people of the United States, to revive political discussion, both to enable them to defeat the frauds of factions, and lest it be inferred from the despotism of France, that the government of their rival is the last refuge from oppression. The great danger of artisans and agriculturists lies in the legal depredations of the various parties actuated by exclusive interests, natural to the British policy, such as a court interest, a military interest, a stock interest, and various other separate interests, whose business it is to get what they can from the rest of the nation. Like the armies of Bonaparte, all such parties subsist upon contributions, and repay them with arrogance and contempt. By such parties, or by enlisting under some statesman or general, agriculture and arts have been universally degraded from political influence and subjected to a tutelage formed to plunder them.
A few texts are selected from Mr. Adams’s defence of the constitutions of the United States, because its candour furnished the best materials for a distinct exhibition of certain subjects; and the inviolable obligation of freely examining his doctrines, was not inconsistent with a high opinion of his virtue and talents.
The author has only to add, that he has nothing to plead in excuse of the imperfections of these essays, but his incapacity, and that a common sentinel may awaken an army. He has devoted to them the occasional spare time of a busy life, during twenty years. Their revision and publication was deferred, until age had abated temporal interests and diminished youthful prejudices; so that they are almost letters from the dead. And he offers them near the end of his life, as an oblation to those political principles, for which he was indebted for much happiness in his passage through it.
It is necessary to inform the publick that these essays were written before the 17th day of November, 1811, when the contract was made for printing them; to disclose the reason, why no use has been made of any subsequent event.