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Section the Eighth: THE MODE OF INFUSING ARISTOCRACY INTO THE POLICY OF THE UNITED STATES - 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).
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Section the Eighth
THE MODE OF INFUSING ARISTOCRACY INTO THE POLICY OF THE UNITED STATES
Among civilized people, no species of tyranny can exist, without the help of aristocracy; because intricacy must keep pace with knowledge, to conceal or defend oppression, to which no nation ever submits knowingly and willingly. The weakness of simple monarchy is so extremely visible, that upon the first emergence of a nation from profound ignorance, it is compelled to call in the help of aristocracy. It has never been able to find any other ally, because it can have no common social interest; and being therefore forced to purchase allies with property and privileges taken from the rest of a nation, these allies must of course be aristocracies in fact, under whatever form they are reared. Aristocracy existed without monarchy, in Greece, Rome and Venice, by the help of superstition, bravery and a complication of contrivances; but at present, it appears every where, though in different shapes, as the engine of monarchy, because of certain changes in man’s moral character. In France and Turkey it is military; in Spain it is made of a superstition so powerful, as to have exposed the nation to the loss of its independence, for the shadow of monarchy; in China, it is made of superstition, civil privileges and military power; and in England of paper stock, military power and patronage. Aristocracy is no where agrarian. And wherever it has taken deep root in any form, an agricultural interest has ceased to be known or even spoken of, as having any influence in the government.
Whenever the lands of a country are so divided, as that the weight of a few landholders is not perceivable in the government; or so that the majority of the nation belong to the agrarian interest; no species of aristocracy, partaking in the least degree of a landed interest, can possibly be introduced.
Minority is an ingredient, without which no aristocracy can exist. A feudal king and his barons, possessed of nearly all the lands of a country, were a minority, constituting a landed aristocracy, living upon the rest of a nation. But this species of aristocracy being destroyed in England by a division of lands (though individual landed fortunes there, still greatly exceed any here) a new species of aristocracy became necessary to sustain monarchy in that country, in which a landed interest has been so far from keeping an ascendancy, that it has been unable to get a just share of representation.
The crown, aided by the remnant of the feudal aristocracy, after contending against the principles of civil liberty, introduced by the Puritans into the English policy, being defeated, abandoned this prop of monarchy in that form; and revived it in the form of paper stock and corruption, so as to have undermined all the fortresses erected against its power, and made itself stronger than it was before it was reduced.
A minority capable of subsisting upon a majority, being an essential quality of aristocracy, the landed interest of the United States, so far from being susceptible of any portion of aristocratick power, is precisely that interest which must inevitably furnish subsistence and privileges for an aristocracy here in any form; because it is a majority, and incapable of subsisting upon any other interest.
The fœtus of aristocracy here, can therefore only consist of the same qualities, which have grown up into a giant in Britain. These are paper stock, armies and patronage. The question is, whether the landed interest of the United States, as it cannot constitute an aristocratick order between a king and the people, had not better unite with the other popular interests, to strangle in its cradle any infant visibly resembling this terrible giant?
The modern species of aristocracy neither wants nor fears titles. In their absence or presence, in France and in England, its operation on the side of executive power, is the same. It can operate in the United States, as it does in France, without titled orders; and Mr. Adams’s project of the balances is unable to prevent it from operating, as it does in England with them. A didactick aristocratical body, is no check, without solid power. If the power is derived from representation and responsibility, it is not aristocractical; if from corruption and patronage, it is the tool of a monarch. And a naked constitutional precept would be as strong a check upon actual power, as a naked didactick aristocracy. A French senate, an English house of lords, and the conscript fathers under the Roman emperors, are examples of these assertions. These examples display the justness of Lord Shaftesbury’s and Mr. Adams’s opinion, as to the necessity of a balance of property among orders, to enable one order to balance another in power. The nobility in England can no longer balance the crown, because its property is lost. The senate in France cannot balance the emperor, for want of wealth. The Roman emperors succeeded the conscript fathers as plunderers of the provinces. It results, that a noble order here, could not balance executive power or the people, unless endowed with the same ingredient. Money and arms are the instruments of power. Mr. Adams’s system, without its means or principles, could never work according to his hopes. Its essential principle or means is, that the noble order must be endowed with wealth. Mr. Adams ought to have told us from whom this wealth is to be taken, and of what it is to consist.
Let us suppose that it is to consist of land, for the sake of flattering the errour of some landholders in the United States, who conceive that their interest leans towards an aristocracy. It will require one-third of the lands of the Union, to give a landed aristocracy weight or power sufficient to answer its purpose. Suppose also, that the zeal of landed men in favour of a landed aristocracy, should induce them to part willingly with one-third of their lands to obtain it, and consider what retribution would be made for the sacrifice.
The late aristocratical order of France was a landed one. It derived its power from possessing a third of the lands. And it used this power to shelter its own lands from taxation, and to shift the publick burdens from its own shoulders, upon those of the rest of the people. Even a landed aristocracy must possess the essential quality of feeding upon all except itself. Besides, every landholder, in nurturing the errour that his interest leans towards a landed aristocracy, has many computations to make; such as, whether it is likely that all considerable landholders will be made lords; or in case of a selection of two or three hundred individuals to constitute a noble landed order, whether it is likely that he will be one. Whether such a body can be any thing but the infamous instrument of a tyrant, unless it is endowed with sufficient property to give it weight; and whether he is willing to give up one-third of his lands for that purpose.
If it would be improvident in the landed interest of the United States, to part with one-third only of its lands, to gain the benefit of an aristocracy capable of some agrarian sympathy, what must be the foresight of mortgaging the whole, to rear up an aristocracy of stock corruption and patronage, capable of none? England answers the question. But undeterred by her cries to forbear, the landed interest of the United States, with exclusive skill or folly, is moulding heavy ordnance to play upon itself, and whittling down its own armies into pocket pistols. Perpetuity and primogeniture are its heaviest artillery against stock monopoly. With these, the English landed interest has fallen before it; and the American, without either, provokes the combat. The landed interest of England foresaw its disaster, and fell against its will. The singular management has been reserved for the landed interest of America, of cherishing contrary principles, both tending towards its own subjugation; one, a division of lands; the other, an increase of stock, armies and patronage. And whilst it would grudge one-third of its lands to create a sympathizing aristocracy, it subjects the whole to be for ever fleeced by law, without stint, to create an inexorable one.
The favourers of monarchy, are so entirely convinced of the inefficacy of a didactick king or nobility, that they will never attempt to introduce either. They will make these orders with solid and not with imaginary materials. With wealth, armies and patronage. These are the trees, which, when planted and suffered to grow, will produce the fruit of course. They are exceedingly difficult to eradicate, after they begin to bear. And when mature, upon touching the bud, the fruit bursts forth in its highest flavour.
The policy of the United States must see, and not wink upon this reasoning, if it expects to last. The landed interest being incapable of becoming an aristocracy itself, must unite with the other natural interests of society in maintaining a republican government, or submit to an aristocratical monarchy of which it cannot constitute a part. It can possess no essential weight or power, except under a form of government which shall exclude orders, because it cannot become an order itself; and because it must pay and not receive the corruption, found by experience in England, necessary to keep a government of orders together. It is yet able to make a master for itself in any shape it may fancy; or to pluck the mask from the Proteus, aristocracy, whether it lurks under a coronet, a mitre or paper stock.
It is hidden so artfully under the last, that it is hard to exhibit it in bodily shape. No escutcheon is hung out. No ensigns are unfurled to mark its march and its victory. And we must resort to Mr. Adams’s book to find a badge, designating stock aristocracy with as much correctness, as a crown designates a king.
This badge he affixes to it in the following maxim: ‘Money, which all people now desire, and which makes the essential instrument for governing the world.’∗ By bestowing on a banking interest ‘the essential instrument for governing the world,’ you enable it to govern. Every separate interest, able to govern, does govern. And every separate governing interest, being a minority, must also be an aristocracy.
Let the landed interest compare Mr. Adams’s maxim and his system with each other, and it will see the force of this reasoning, and his inconsistency in proposing to make orders by conventions, in the face of his own maxim. What could these orders effect without ‘the essential instrument for governing the world?’ Would the landed interest supply or receive this essential instrument? and will not this instrument make governours of a stock order, as it does of others? Suppose two orders, one poor and didactick, the other possessing the instrument for governing; where would the power settle? The system of dividing lands and amassing a paper interest, creates these orders. Titles and superstition have ceased to constitute aristocracy, among commercial and enlightened nations. Are we not in this class? Shall we then expose our policy and freedom, to the only instrument which creates aristocracy, among enlightened nations, and be content with defending them against title and superstition, which are no longer instruments of tyranny?
The landed interest of the United States, being indissolubly betrothed to commerce, has been considered as so completely covering the interests of the society, that it is used in several states as a substratum of civil government, recognised as republican, by the guarantee in the federal constitution. And where the range of suffrage is wider, but attended either by a greater portion of bank stock or executive patronage, the tendency towards monarchy or aristocracy is more visible, than where suffrage has been in some degree limited to land, but attended with less stock or patronage.
Popular governments and popular principles could not thus flow from the landed interest, if it possessed aristocratical qualities. Majorities only sustain such principles and governments. By sustaining them, the landed interest appears to cover a majority. Because it covers a majority, it does sustain them; it being impossible for a majority to maintain itself by oppressing a minority. Even the Goths and Vandals, sought for plunder among great nations, not among little clans less wealthy than themselves.
The extent of our country would alone suffice to prove, that our landed interest cannot be an aristocracy or a monarch. Has the whole earth formed one nation, with the lands divided as they are in our portion of it, such a landed interest would have been as capable of constituting an aristocracy, as the landed interest of the United States. It would have been the world itself; where would there have been other worlds, to bear its oppression or obey its power? Here it is the nation; where could it find subjects upon which to exercise an aristocratical spirit? If any species of master interest should be interpolated upon our policy, it cannot therefore be the landed; the alternative of which is limited by the laws of nature, to equal rights in a free government, or passive obedience under an arbitrary one.
We lose truth in names and phrases, as children lose themselves in a wood, for want of geographical knowledge. Because titles have been frequently annexed to aristocracy, it is erroneously imagined to be made by titles; and the thing dreaded can creep in, under an imagination, which cheats us into a belief, that its road lies through titles only. Lords without wealth, are an aristocracy, exemplified by the hierarchical power of American bishops. Individual wealth, not derived from an exclusive interest, is so far from participating in the spirit of aristocracy, that its contributions must at least be equivalent to its ability, and its interest is therefore repugnant to every pecuniary oppression.
Even it disbursements through the medium of tenants, would operate as diminutions of rent, and form deductions from its income. And this species of individual wealth, constitutes the whole mass of power and talents, by which the poor and uninformed are secured in their rights and liberties, under the bond which unites all persons having the same interest. The prejudices arising from words, darken the mind so generally against a perception of real qualities and principles, as to justify us in recalling to the reader’s recollection, a few cases to expose the frailty of such precipitate conclusions.
The Lacedemonians had two kings; but the government was aristocratick. The Athenians had a king archon; but the government was democratick. The Roman government was called indiscriminately a commonwealth or republick, whether its complexion was aristocratick, democratick or monarchical. In all its stages, the English government has been called a limited monarchy, whether the barons were masters of the king and people, the king of the people and barons, or a paper fabrick of the rest of the nation. The words ‘king or republick,’ do not make a monarch or a free government. Nor do the words ‘duke, marquis, bishop,’ make an aristocracy. It is made by principles and qualities. A separate interest in a minority, is one principle or quality, which makes an aristocracy; and a mode of extracting wealth by law from the rest of the nation, another. Neither riches without a separate interest, nor a separate interest without riches, can in the present state of things make an aristocracy.
Mr. Adams has cautioned us against the abuse of political phrases, whilst he reiterates the expressions ‘a mixed government; checks and balances; middle orders,’ without explaining the qualities or principles necessary to make those checks, balances or middle orders; or considering the influence upon this theory, from armies, patronage, corruption, the poverty of a nominal middle order, or the enormous wealth of a separate interest. Had Tacitus undertaken to recommend the government of the Emperors to the Romans, he would in like manner have used the terms consul, senate, patrician, plebeian; and by suppressing the qualities of these orders, he might have easily proved, that a limited monarchy existed under the Roman emperors, as well checked, balanced and provided with middle orders, as that existing under the corrupt system of England.
As governments change, names represent different things, but are often retained to gull prejudice and varnish tyranny. For this end, the names of senate, consul and patrician remained in Rome. For this end, the name ‘parliament’ remains in England. In neither case, was ‘free and moderate government’ preserved; and in both, oppression was the effect of real changes under old names.
Mr. Adams has even called the English form of government ‘republican;’ but if the United States should slide into it for that reason, they would act as the Athenians would have acted, by giving to Clitomachus (who had been branded with infamy) the command of an army, because his name signified ‘illustrious warrior.’
The hooks of fraud and tyranny, are universally baited with melodious words. ‘Passive obedience’ was a bait sacrilegiously drawn from scripture. ‘Church and state,’ from a fear of popery. ‘Checks and balances, and publick faith and credit,’ are still more musical baits, and however harshly ‘patronage, corruption, paper stock and standing armies,’ may at first sound, even these words are at length thought by some to contain much secret harmony.
Fine words are used to decoy, and ugly words to affright. ’security to private property’ is attractive. ‘Invasion of private property’ deterring. The invader of course devoutly uses the first phrase, and indignantly applies the second to those who oppose him. Where is there an instance of an invasion of private property, equal to that effected by the paper system of England? As its greatest invader, it has of course been the loudest advocate for its safety.
‘Energetick government’ is a phrase happily chosen to please honest men, and to beguile nations of unmanageable power. Under the agreeable jingle in the antithesis, between ‘protection and allegiance’ was long hidden a large reservoir of arbitrary power. Of the same family is the ancient idea of ‘a contract between the king and the people.’ Implying equality, either party might construe this contract, and the active power of construction being in the hands of kings, they made all their own actions, fulfilments, and such actions of the people as they pleased, breaches.
There is edification and safety in challenging political words and phrases as traitors, and trying them rigorously by principles, before we allow them the smallest degree of confidence. As the servants of principles, they gain admission into the family, and thus acquire the best opportunities of assassinating their masters, should they become treacherous. That useful and major part of mankind, comprised within natural interests (by which I mean agricultural, commercial, mechanical, and scientifick; in opposition to legal and artificial, such as hierarchical, patrician, and banking) is exclusively the object of imposition, whenever words are converted into traitors to principles.
The good words ‘order, a sacred regard for private property, national credit,’ have made the British government bad; and the good word ‘truth’ makes sedition laws. The same words, faithful to principles, would protect private property against stock, keep a nation out of debt, destroy sedition law, and, in short, be the allies of honest and moderate government.
Thus the word ‘energy’ may be an ally of freedom or despotism. The energy of monarchy is distinct in its qualities and end from the energy of republicanism. One is made of orders, stock, patronage and armies, to maintain the power of a government over a nation; the other of equal rights, taxation for national use, division of power, publick opinion and a national militia, to maintain the power of a nation over a government. Monarchical energy, is a Delilah, knowing that the great strength of free government lies in republican energy, and omitting no opportunity of shaving it away, to make room for itself. When it has once bound or blinded the popular Samson, however he may chance to take vengeance of his enemies, he is generally crushed in their fall.
Between the introduction of aristocratical, and the expulsion of republican energy, there is an interregnum of principle, which requires great acuteness for the preservation of property. Aristocratical principles favour artificial property, such as paper stock, office, and corporate privileges; republican, substantial property obtained by industry and talents, and not by law and sinecure. One species of this property preys upon the other. And it requires some judgement to change property, as the nature of its protection changes; to escape from the drudgery of industry and talents, and to share in the luxury of stock, office and privilege.
Principles, congenial to aristocracy (among which monopolies of wealth by law have been universally esteemed) are huntsmen in pursuit of republicanism, to strip her of her plumage. Will she turn and defend herself, or like a foolish bird, expect to escape to escape by shutting her eyes upon her enemy?
It is extremely important that private property should be clearly ascertained, to withstand the assaults both of those who would abolish it by mobs, and of those who would defraud it by law to create an aristocracy. Civilized society is dissolved by the enthusiasm of one party, or corrupted by the knavery of the other; and it is the policy of our system to guard against both. To apply this policy to the preservation of the ligament upon which its own preservation depends, the nature of that ligament ought to be thoroughly understood.
The fruit of labour or industry, is an unequivocal species of private property; is that also an unequivocal species, which takes away this fruit? If a law, which enables A to transfer to himself B’s unequivocal private property, may boast of the protection it gives to property, by securing B’s to A, oppression and fraud may upon the same ground justify their most atrocious actions. And if laws for bestowing wealth, may be permanent, rigid and insatiable extortioners, they cannot be also guardians and protectors of private property.
Such laws succeed, by seizing upon the passion of avarice, and bewildering computation. Although a vast majority of mankind universally lose property by these laws, each individual is at a loss how to class himself. Deluded by the hope of gain, he submits to an immoral mode of enriching some, at the expense of others; and yet by considering whether he is a member of general and natural, or of exclusive and factitious interests, the difficulty would vanish. It is easy to determine, whether we subsist by labour, industry or talents; or by patronage, privilege, sinecure or stock. True private property, is a political being permanently guided by good moral principles, because its interest is to do right; spurious, one as permanently guided by evil, because its interest is to do wrong. The enmity between them is exactly that between religion and idolatry. Laws may be either the accomplices of spurious, or the protectors of legitimate private property. And the principle by which they are stampt with one or the other of these characters, ascertains what private property is. Laws to enable men to keep their property, stand exactly opposed to laws for transferring it to other men. Governments are instituted for the first object, but they strive to acquire the second power, without using it to impoverish a nation and enrich an aristocracy, titled, hierarchical or stock.
A has inherited or earned a sum of money; B, being more cunning than A, obtains a law enabling him to get A’s money, directly or indirectly; and after he has gotten it, the law guarantees it to B. Was this money private property in the hands of A? Is the social sanction which secured it in his hands, less sacred or just, than the legal sanction which transferred it to B?
If property is admitted to be a social right, it does not follow that society gives an absolute power over it to governments. Upon this ground however, sovereigns ingeniously invented forfeitures for offences, and applied them to their won use. By this feudal fraud, privileged orders were nurtured. Our policy detected and abolished this fraud. An invention for the benefit of society, ought not to be used to its injury. It followed the same principle in a denunciation of the whole tribe of exclusive privileges, which like forfeitures, would all serve to feed some order or faction. And having thus disposed of forfeitures, and privileges, it never could have intended to invest law with a power to apply private property, to a use, to which it refuses to condemn fines for crimes.
All societies have exercised the right of abolishing privileged, stipendiary or factitious property, whenever they became detrimental to them; nor have kings, churches or aristocracies ever hesitated to do the same thing, for the same reason. The king of England joined the people and judges, in abolishing the tenures and perpetuities of the nobles; the king and nobles united in abolishing the property of the popish clergy; the consistory of Rome suppressed the order of Jesuits and disposed of its property; and several of these states, have abolished entails, tythes and hierarchical establishments. What stronger ground can be occupied by any species of law-begotten wealth, than by these?
Poverty is justly exasperated against the wealth which caused it; but it temperately contemplates wealth, flowing from industry and talents, and not from fraudulent laws. It knows that as one man’s industry, cannot make another man poorer; so wealth gotten by legal means, without industry, must. And if aristocracy is introduced into the United States by legal modes of dividing property, violent animosities between the rich and poor will attend it, to a greater extent than in other countries, because the means for controlling them are less.
From the legal frauds by which property is transferred and amassed, human nature has derived most of its envy, malice, and hatred. And if the acquisitions of hierarchy, privilege, patronage, sinecure, bribery, charter and paper stock, have been but seldom able to inspire it with a sufficient share of these passions, to assail fraudulent kinds of property; what danger can be apprehended by genuine private property, defended by all the sanctions which defend the spurious, with the addition of justice?
The only danger of innocent, arises from an alliance with guilty property. Such an alliance is assiduously sought for, and artfully supported, by its pretended friend and real foe. A knave will strive to associate himself with an honest man, and the latter must dissolve the connexion, or risk his reputation. Thus honest property is exposed to danger by an association with fraudulent property; and its safety is ensured, by dissolving the connexion. Honest property, disunited from a system which deeds away a nation to individuals or factions, by offices, privileges, charters, loans, banks, and all the variety of incorporations, will have nothing to fear, whenever publick indignation and justice awake. It will both escape and inflict the fate of its natural enemies, by disdaining to serve under their banners, or to become the dupe of their frauds.
To the indignation inspired by the fraudulent legal modes for acquiring wealth, mankind are indebted for the pernicious and impracticable idea of equalising property by law. This speculation has been considered by philosophers, in contrast with its opposite. It seemed to them more reasonable and just, that property should be made equal, than unequal by law. Destroy the alternative, by assailing both its branches with the benefits arising from leaving property to be distributed by industry, and the argument would assume a new aspect. It would be discovered, that arts and sciences, peace and plenty, have never been found, disunited from metes and bounds. And that hence mankind have preferred that branch of the alternative which required, to that which rejected them; considering a system of property, compounded of honesty and fraud, as preferable to its abolition.
By artfully drawing the question to this point, legal, factitious or fraudulent property; comprising every species resulting from direct and indirect modes of accumulation by law, at the expense of others; has been able in all civilized countries, to unite itself with substantial, real or honest property; comprising accumulations arising from fair and useful industry and talents. The equalising speculation, by proposing to destroy both, united these two opposite moral beings in a defensive war; just as a good and a bad man would unite against an assassin, indifferently determined to murder them both. Had philosophers wisely avoided this snare, and confined the discussion to a discrimination between the useful and pernicious kinds of property, they would never have given to the latter the benefit of an alliance by which it is sustained; and might have long since settled some definition of private property, sufficiently perspicuous, to defend mankind against the pecuniary oppressions they are forever suffering for want of it. Instead of associating honest and fraudulent property in one interest, by the chimerical and impracticable equalising project, they would have established a rational and practicable distinction, between that species of private property founded only in law; such as is gained by privilege, hierarchy, paper, charter, and sinecure; and that founded also in nature; arising from industry, arts and sciences. And they would have proved, that the two species constituted two principles in the world of property, as strictly opposed to each other, as the two principles in the moral world, one of which is worshipped and the other execrated. Blended, they make up a system of property, similar to a system of religion, compounded of theocracy and demonocracy.
Nothing is more remarkable in their contrariety, than that fictitious property is founded in the principle of agrarian laws, which it reprobates. The simple objection to these is, that they take away a portion of one man’s property, and give it to another. How otherwise can the balance of property between orders be effected, as contended for by Mr. Adams and Lord Shaftesbury? Does it alter the principle, to transfer the property by means, avowed and direct, or insidious and indirect? However indirect, yet privilege, hierarchy, office, paper, charter, and sinecure, are means, by which the property of some is taken away, and given to others. All the difference is, that in agrarian laws, or laws for an equal division of land, the principle is applied between individuals; and in laws for nurturing separate interests, between orders.
A single effect, observable wherever Mr. Adams’s and Lord Shaftesbury’s system exists, of a balance of property between orders, is quoted to illustrate this reasoning. It is attended by a multitude of poor rates, work houses and hospitals. Why? Because many individuals of the most numerous order, being excessively impoverished by dividing or distributing property among orders, would perish, unless provided for by those legally enriched. The right of the poor to require subsistence from those who have made them poor, is so strong as to be admitted by the authors of their impoverishment. An agrarian law, or an equal division of property, would not be equally attended by poor rates, work houses and hospitals, because it would not equally impoverish individuals. Will it be contended, that laws which impoverish a great number of individuals, are less atrocious violators of justice and private property, than laws which impoverish none? We must now discern that the principle of distributing property by law, is more malignant, when applied to equalise wealth between orders, than when applied to equalise wealth between individuals. A principle, more malignant against social happiness, than a general agrarian division, cannot be the genuine principle which causes society to guard private property. Thence we are necessarily driven in search of some other principle, and if we are right in considering industry, arts and sciences, as its true sources, a correct definition of private property, must exclude all the legal modes invented for its division.
Lord Shaftesbury and Mr. Adams strenuously contend, that a balance of property among orders, is necessary to preserve their freedom. In like manner, a balance of property among individuals, is necessary to preserve theirs. The first species of balance, destroys the second. The legal distribution of wealth, necessary to preserve the balance of property, and its dependant, the freedom of orders, destroys its distribution by industry and talents, equally necessary to preserve the second species of balance, and its dependant, the freedom of men. Thus the attainable object of a free government, is destroyed by the forlorn attempt to keep three orders free, by balancing wealth and power among them. By transferring, an agrarian law, invades property. All laws for this purpose, direct or indirect, are equally its invaders. Those for dividing lands, and for making sinecures, useless armies and offices, bank stock and hierarchies, transfer the property of some to others, and therefore all belong to the same class. If an end of a government is to protect property, it cannot be an end of the same government to make these laws, because the two ends are contrary to each other. It would have as good a right, under a power to protect property, to make an equal division of it by a direct law, as an unequal division of it, by indirect laws. Our policy labours to prevent necessary laws from degenerating into the latter usurpation, by cautiously guarding against excessive expenditures even for publick uses; and it excludes a right of legislation, for the purpose of transferring private property from some to others, or for the sake of creating or balancing orders or separate interests, civil or religious. Laws for maintaining a balance of property among orders, necessary to sustain an aristocracy, however disguised, defeat every such principle of our policy.
By suffering industry to distribute property, industry will be created. It teaches no vice. It bestows health and content. It is a pledge of virtue. It doubles our happiness by enabling us to blend with it the happiness of others. Its benefits reiterate and spread like the undulations of the waves. Yet the hags, feudality, hierarchy, privilege and stock, have successively been preferred as regulators of private property, to this charming goddess. The distribution of property by law, first introduces into a government what I shall call an aristocracy of parties; and an appearance of this species of aristocracy, is a proof that its pabulum exists. The few who contend for prizes, arrange a nation into parties, who zealously plead for and against each set of distributees, both having in view the goods and chattels of the infatuated advocates.
The similitude between party and aristocracy, is explained by Mr. Hume’s distinction between an aristocracy of individuals, and one consisting of a separate interest; exemplifying the first by the Polish, and the second by the Venetian nobility. An aristocracy or party of individuals, consists of a few Polish noblemen, at the head of an ignorant and obedient mass of followers. An aristocracy or party of interest, consists of a conclave of individuals, united for the end of defrauding others to enrich themselves. In the same essay Mr. Hume has said, that free governments are most happy for those who partake of their freedom, but most ruinous and oppressive to their provinces. They dispense ruin and oppression to provinces, as the inevitable effect of a separate interest. The certainty of this moral law, is nearly demonstrated in the relation between England and Ireland, and quite so in India. If a free government is converted by a power of distributing wealth by law, into an oppressive aristocracy of its provinces, every species of aristocracy or separate interest, must be guided by the same moral law.
The United States exhibit four parties, the republican, monarchical, stock, and patronage. The two parties of principle, unsophisticated by the parties of separate interest, would discuss with moderation, and decide with integrity; but the two last, accepted on both sides as recruits, by an ardour for victory, though known to be allies who serve for plunder, empoison them by all the contaminations of an interest, distinct from the publick; and by all the animosities, aristocracies of interest inspire. Aristocracy or separate interest in our case, at present takes refuge under one and then under the other of our parties, because it is not yet able to stand alone; but whilst it is fondling first one and then the other of its nurses, it is sucking both into a consumption, and itself towards maturity.
It is thus that patronage transforms any party into an aristocracy of interest. The money dispensed by the executive power of England, creates a powerful aristocracy of interest, unfriendly to the national interest. The patronage of the President of the United States, is aggravated by the temptation to employ it for his re-election. This aristocracy of patronage, arises from a division of property by law, and the only modes of reconciling it with republican government, are, to settle salaries by a standard, too low to create a party of interest; or to divide patronage so widely, as to prevent it from becoming the property of one man, or of one body of men. People will then cease to enlist under some banner to gain an office, to elect partisans, and to raise by their own suffrages a mercenary civil army for the destruction of their own liberties. The effect of the inconsiderable sum laid out by patronage upon Congress, reflects with fidelity, the fatal aristocracy of interest to be expected from the vast sum, distributed by banking among the people.
The enlightened author of the life of General Washington, ascribes the parties in the United States, to the intrigues of Mr. Jefferson, to French influence, and to other transitory and fluctuating causes. If his opinion had been correct, these parties would have disappeared with the supposed causes. But being in truth produced by the mass of property transferred by funding, banking and patronage, creating (to borrow Mr. Hume’s phrase) an aristocracy of interest, they yet exist, because these laws divided the nation into a minority enriched, and a majority furnishing the riches; and two parties, seekers and defenders of wealth, are an unavoidable consequence. All parties, however loyal to principles at first, degenerate into aristocracies of interest at last; and unless a nation is capable of discerning the point where integrity ends and fraud begins, popular parties are among the surest modes of introducing an aristocracy. The policy of protecting duties to force manufacturing, is of the same nature, and will produce the same consequences as that of enriching a noble interest, a church interest, or a paper interest; because bounties to capital are taxes upon industry, and a distribution of property by law. And it is the worst mode of encouraging aristocracy, because, to the evil of distributing wealth at home by law, is to be added the national loss arising from foreign retaliation upon our own exports. An exclusion by us of foreign articles of commerce, will beget an exclusion by foreigners of our articles of commerce, or at least corresponding duties; and the wealth of the majority will be as certainly diminished to enrich capital, as if it should be obliged to export a million of guineas to bring back a million of dollars, or to bestow a portion of its guineas upon this separate interest.
As a separate or aristocratical interest, is the cause of party in countries where avarice or reason prevails over superstition and fanaticism, it follows, that instead of party spirit being natural to free governments, it is only natural to those, where aristocracies or parties of interest are artificially created and combined by law; and that by uncreating these causes, such aristocracies and parties naturally die. Ambition itself, in the present state of manners, despairs of gratification, except by the help of a party founded in interest, which it can create by no mode, except by that of invading property by law or force. It must hire an army or a legislature, or both, to gain power. It cannot hire either without money, and it cannot obtain money, without associates. If ambition is unable to form an aristocracy or party, except by violating and transferring property, it follows, that no other means exist for its formation; and of course, that its appearance is a proof that property is violated and transferred. It follows also, that free and fair governments cannot be subject to party, but such only as have ceased to be free and fair by the creation of aristocracy, or a party founded in interest. If this reasoning is true, there is neither wisdom nor policy, in providing constitutional precepts requiring ambition and avarice to be quiet; and yet to nourish them by law. It makes the constitution a blind, from behind which legal parties or aristocracies strike nations.
Orders enslave nations, by making parties; and they are enabled to make them, by laws for transferring property. If such laws make parties, and if the party spirit of orders, is the cause of their oppression; then, though titles are excluded, yet wherever party spirit is created, the oppression produced by orders is secured. Patrician and feudal parties were made by conquered lands; church parties by tythes, offerings and endowments; military parties, by wages; patronage parties, by offices, bribes and sinecures; and paper parties, by stock, interest and dividends. All were made by laws for transferring or invading private property, all are parties or aristocracies of interest, and all are avoided by forbearing to make the laws which make them, and in no other way.
Two causes are adduced to shew, that property and not title, creates the parties or aristocracies which enslave nations. The whig party was made strong in England, by the paper stock with which it was enriched and united. In spite of its principles, it was forced by the regimen of this legal wealth to enslave the nation, by poisoning the principles it professed to nature. Hence a modern whig may believe, that it would have been better for the English nation, had success followed the landed tories, who would have strangled the paper system of the whigs in its infancy. If the stock system of the United States proceeds as it has done for fifty years more, it will give occasion for a similar computation. This case proves, that the present state of England, was caused by a party, formed by a legal and artificial mode of distributing property, and not by a titled order; and that paper stock was this mode. Paper stock can therefore make aristocracies or parties, able to overthrow political principles.
The Cincinnati of the United States could never form a faction or party; because title, without fraudulent laws to transfer property, is incompetent to such an end; but the funding and banking system could; because such laws without title, possess this competency. Even at home we have already learnt, that titles cannot make parties; that laws for distributing property can; and that such laws operate under our political system as they do under all others.
The precise principle we are contending for, is resorted to by the constitution of the United States, to prevent party and faction. But it is applied only to states, and not to individuals. Partialities by law, for increasing or diminishing the taxes of a state, and every species of exclusive privilege, or exclusive burden, between states, is carefully guarded against. This is done, because laws of either complexion, would unexceptionably transfer property from the unfavoured to the favoured states; and would unexceptionably also create the former into an exasperated, and the latter, into a fraudulent party, or an aristocracy. This fraudulent party, could not for a moment deceive states into an opinion, that laws for bestowing exclusive privileges and wealth upon other states, or exclusive burdens upon themselves, would add to their wealth or happiness. A state makes but one moral being; its capacity is equal to the moral beings who would practise this deception; it contains no inimical ingredients, willing to sacrifice it to another state, because of its unity as a moral being; nor has its legislature any interest, to make and hide this sacrifice from the people. It would therefore instantly decide, that all laws for enriching particular states, directly or indirectly, were fraudulent and oppressive.
Do not such laws operate between individuals, precisely as they operate between states? Being fraudulent and oppressive in relation to individuals, as they are in relation to states, they will also generate party, faction or aristocracy. It is less violent than a party of states would be, because the deceptions used to defend the imposition, have some success among individuals, from their ignorance, and from the arts of those interested. These causes of deception do not apply to factitious modes of transferring property between states, and therefore a state is never deceived, and indignantly resists such laws in every shape.
Suppose, for instance, that congress had invested particular states, with the exclusive privilege of supplying the Union with paper currency by banks, and had prohibited the issuing of any other. Could the states, unpossessed of a share in the privilege, have been persuaded that it would add to their wealth, happiness or prosperity? They would, in the supposed case, have occupied the place with all its consequences, of that entire mass of individuals, unpossessed of bank stock. Yet in an eternity, no civilized state could have been made to believe itself benefited, by having the bank paper of the privileged states circulated within it. An exclusive privilege of furnishing the United States with manufactures would have an equivalent effect.
By excluding partial modes of transferring property by law between states, the constitution designs to deprive ambition and avarice of a handle, by which to work up and manage geographical passions and parties, for their own selfish ends. How can it be just and wise, to offer a like handle to ambition and avarice, in a social union of individuals, by permitting them to transfer and accumulate property by law, if it is unjust and unwise to admit of its existence, in the union between the states? If its exclusion in one case, is calculated to counteract parties, factions or aristocracies, formed of states, its exclusion in the other, would prevent parties, factions or aristocracies, formed of citizens. By excluding it in both, the only tool with which ambition and avarice can undermine and destroy a free government, can no longer be forged.
If there exists no mode under the constitution of the United States, by which the government, or some section of it can exercise partialities between states in relation to property, they will probably escape the evil of geographical aristocracy. Should a statesman, an orator, a hero, or a patriot, begin to draw lines of separate or exclusive interest from north to south, from east to west, along a chain of hills, or from the source of a river to the ocean; like all legal frauds for distributing property; they will be merely designed to enrich some party of interest, at the expense of those whose benefit is pretended; and as these lines drawn by civil law, invariably mean fraud and avarice, they only acquire the additional attributes of ambition and treason, when attempted for political revolution. But if the pretext for such an experiment was ever so preposterous, yet if it was connected with a partial distribution of property by law between the states, it would create a geographical party, as was in some degree illustrated by the effects of the funding system, and may be illustrated by the influence of executive patronage. The richer it becomes, the more zealous will districts be, led by the exertions of fraud which hopes of office of contracts will excite, to gain the presidency.
The artifice of enemies, and the credulity of friends, in fostering an opinion, that party spirit was natural to honest and free government, prevents us from discovering that it is invariably produced by dishonest or ambitious designs, and unexceptionably indicates the existence of an aristocracy of interest. Mr. Adams allows that party spirit is a regular fruit of orders, without deducing it from aristocratical laws for distributing property, allowed also by him to be necessary to the existence of these orders. If then party spirit, orders, or aristocracy, flow from the same cause, whatever will prevent either, will prevent all, and whatever will produce one, will produce the rest. As a distribution of property by law is the common cause, an exclusion of such laws, is the common remedy; and as according to our idea of a republican government, it cannot exist in union with these partial laws, the parties they produce are chargeable to a different form of government, partial to a separate interest, and in principle, aristocratical.
Mr. Godwin has said ‘that all government is founded in opinion, and that publick institutions will fluctuate with the fluctuations of opinion.’ This position assigns the publick approbation to all governments, which have existed or can exist. It bestows upon an aristocracy or party, whose power is planted in self interest, the sanction of publick opinion; and raises the influence of authority to the highest pitch. With equal justice, he might have assigned the same sanction to the power of a disciplined army, over an undisciplined nation. It is never the opinion of nations that slavery is good; yet they are enslaved. Nor is it the opinion of nations that an aristocracy or party of interest is good, but they suffer it, because the individuals of a general interest cannot be cemented in the same way with those of a separate one, as there is none to supply the glue.
Opinion may in one sense be correctly considered as the foundation of all governments. They are all derived from general or partial opinion; from the opinion of the nation, or of some party of interest; but as general and party opinion, are opposite and contradictory sources of government, one must be bad. As moral enemies, they cannot unite. Mingled; commotion or death ensues, as in the case of poison mingled with wholesome drugs. Milton could not bring back Satan to heaven by the benignity of the Almighty, because good and evil are incapable of associating. Even the license of poetry does not extend to a fable contrary to nature. Mr. Adams contends for this mixture, in the very act of proving that it has universally failed.
General, and not party opinion, is the principle of our policy. All our constitutions contain efforts in favour of one, and no efforts in favour of the other. Laws which have the effect of mixing party opinion with general opinion, correspond with Mr. Adams’s policy, and have ever been fatal to such a policy as ours. They introduce party interest into the departments of government, and create intrigues against the general interest; exactly as Mr. Adams proves orders to have universally done. A stock or patronage interest will be as selfish, as a noble or religious interest. The publick interest and the party interest, commence hostilities and continue the war, until one of them is vanquished; and as defeat has hitherto pursued the publick interest, it is unaccountable that it should be persuaded to create a foe, before whose prowess it is destined to fall.
A separate interest, drawing wealth from a nation, and able to gain an influence in a government, cannot be a republican, any more than an individual nobleman in the same situation. To the term ‘republican,’ the Americans have annexed the modern meaning of general good. The opinion, that parties were natural to republicks is the creature of the old idea, that republicks could be constituted of orders or parties. Parties are indeed natural to governments made of parties. But if we reject this old construction of the term, which makes it to mean any thing or nothing; we ought also to reject the old errour, that parties were natural to republicks, as arising from the errour, which considered governments formed of parties or orders as republicks.
The antipathy of party spirit to publick spirit, sophisticated terms, for the purpose of deceiving nations, so that old as the world is, we still want a political word, to express the idea of national self government, unadulterated by orders or parties of interest. If republicanism is allowed to convey the idea of a government guided by publick opinion and operating for publick good, then wherever a legislature is guided or influenced by the opinion of a banking party, the government has ceased to be a republick, as completely as if it was influenced by a king.
Despotisms are more lasting than free governments, because, as they do not suffer an order or a party possessed of exclusive power and privileges to exist, they are not subject to party spirit. By making free governments as little subject to party spirit, they will probably become more permanent than despotisms. It is excluded from despotisms, by excluding separate interests, calculated to plunder, and then dethrone the monarch with his own wealth; and it will be excluded from free governments, by forbearing to create these separate interests, still more dangerous to national wealth and sovereignty.
The appearance of parties of interest under a despotick government, is a proof that a new power has crept in, aspiring to the control of the despotism. A conflict of course commences, which ends in the destruction of one of the combatants. The appearance of such an aristocracy, under a free government, or one founded on common interest, indicates also the existence of a new power, and a similar conflict is unavoidable. Despotism will seldom create and nurture its own foe; free government is frequently seduced to do so. A despotick sovereignty keeps patronage in its own hands, and never confers privileges independent of its own will. A national sovereignty surrenders patronage to an individual, and charters away exclusive rights and emoluments. The consequences which would result to a despotick sovereignty from such a policy, do result to a national sovereignty. Reasoning is at an end, if the same moral causes, are not allowed to produce the same effects. If parties under despotisms are in collision with despotick sovereignty; parties under free governments must be in collision with national. And if the suppression of a party interest, is necessary to save a despotism, it must be necessary to save a free government. The appearance of party is a beacon proclaiming a tendency, which instantly alarms despotism; and it brings back the government to its principle by suppressing the inimical tendency. Free government has only to be equally vigilant against these inimical tendencies, to live longer than despotism; for as party interest is unnatural to one in a state of purity, so is it to the other.
Instances without number might be adduced, to shew, that separate interest is a thermometer accurately disclosing the progress of a revolution, both in property and principles; and that the latter are modelled by fraudulent dispositions of the first. In England, though titles remain, patrician and plebeian parties have yielded to a party or aristocracy of interest. Whigs and tories are melted into one mass, by the same crucible. This crucible is made of paper stock and patronage. The property it invades, plunders, and distributes, has begotten new parties, and abolished old principles. In the United States, no parties of importance have ever appeared, except such as arose from paper stock and patronage; and by this transfer of property, old principles, as in England, will unquestionably be altered or destroyed.
If the term ‘patronage’ was limited to wages for publick service, legislative, executive or judicial, yet should those wages be made so high as to produce detriment to the publick, the surplus beyond the sum required by publick good is fraudulently transferred by law. In computing them, every consideration in relation to the receiver of the wages, ought to be excluded, because they are bestowed to benefit, not him, but the nation. Even legislative wages, capable of protracting sessions for the sake of transferring a greater mass of property, from the payer to the receiver, or of exciting election frauds may form a secret and mischievous party of interest, under its own patronage.
The argument, by which plentiful wages are defended, is, the tendency of law to expel merit and talents from legislatures, and to throw government into the hands of a wealthy order. This argument can only be of force in countries, where legal means are used to create wealthy separate interests. Where wealth is distributed by industry and talents, and not by law, it will nearly cover the merit and talents of a country, and no wealthy order can usurp the legislative power, because none will exist. And high wages, far from enabling merit and virtue to curb a wealthy separate interest, are only another motive, and new means, for enabling them to gain possession of legislatures, by corrupting election.
It is said that Doctor Franklin, convinced that the evils of patronage outweighed the benefits of wages to publick officers, would not receive any as chief magistrate of Pennsylvania. Nations require civil and military services. Militia services are rendered to great extent without wages, and those paid for them in war, are regulated by the idea of publick benefit, and not of adequate compensation. Parsimony, applied to civil duties, would not fall heavier on the rich, than it does on the poor, when applied to military duties. If the chief burden of military service is inflicted on one class, as a duty, because it is most capable from its number of discharging it; ought not the chief burden of civil service to be inflicted on the other, as a duty also, because it chiefly possesses the talents for discharging that? A standing army of mercenary civil officers, being as fatal to free government, as an army of soldiers, the militia principle may be as useful and necessary in the one case, as in the other.
Wages sufficiently high to protect legislative sessions, are a sinecure paid by the publick to corrupt the department of government, which ought to be the purest. They excite official fraud and artifice, and subject members to executive influence for the sake of re-election; and tend in this way towards an aristocracy of interest, of the species most malignant to free and fair government; namely, that compounded of legislative corruption and executive influence.
We ought fully to comprehend the distinction between a personal aristocracy, and an aristocracy of interest, lest we should be surprised by the one, whilst we are watching the other. Hume’s illustration of the latter by the Spartan aristocracy, would have been as apt, had that aristocracy extracted its subsistence form the mechanicks and cultivators, or Helots, by paper stock, as by the mode it pursued. It had no titles, and was one interest living on another. The impossibility of providing a balance of property in the United States, for a personal aristocracy, was explained, to shew that an aristocratical principle cannot be introduced in that mode, and if not in that, it can only be introduced in the mode of an aristocracy of interest. Through principles, and not names, this species of political power, becomes real and oppressive. Was any person ever weak enough to discern hierarchy, aristocracy, or monarchy, in Scotch bishops, the American Cincinnati, or Theodore king of Corsica? Wealth is indispensable to sustain both a personal aristocracy, and an aristocracy of interest. The first can never obtain this indispensable principle in the United States, except they should be subdued by an invading or a native army, and divided among its chieftains. The second may obtain it, by means of patronage, corruption, privilege, and paper stock. It may steal into sovereignty with great rapidity, by selling its influence in society to the personal or disinterested parties alternately. Every aristocracy of interest is ardent in this traffick, and a love of power unhappily induces all political parties (unless they are controlled by nations) to bestow wealth and credit upon this species of aristocracy, until their own principles are lost in the corruption they have countenanced to preserve them, and they themselves sink into a state of subjection to their own instruments.
[∗]Vol. 3. p. 360.