Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. I.: QUOTATIONS from Mr. Locke. - A Treatise Concerning Civil Government in Three Parts
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
CHAP. I.: QUOTATIONS from Mr. Locke. - Josiah Tucker, A Treatise Concerning Civil Government in Three Parts 
A Treatise Concerning Civil Government in Three Parts (London: T. Cadell, 1781).
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.
The only true Foundation of Civil Government, according to Mr.Lockeand his Disciples:—All Governments whatever being so many Encroachments on, and Violations of, the unalienable Rights of Mankind, if not founded on this Hypothesis.
IN order to shorten this Controversy as much as possible, and to strike every Thing out of it foreign to the Subject, I shall first shew wherein I agree with Mr. Locke and his Followers, and 2dly wherein I differ from them.
First then I agree with him, and his Disciples, that there is a Sense, in which it may be said, that no Man is born the political Subject of another. Insants the Moment they are born, are the natural Subjects of their Parents: They are also entitled by the Law of Nature, as well as by human Laws, to the Protection and Guardianship of that State, within whose Jurisdiction they are born [nay, indeed they are entitled to Protection whilst in Embrio] though they neither did, nor could enter into any Contract with the State for that Purpose. Therefore in this Sense, they-are justly deemed the natural-born Subjects of such a Country. This is the Language of all Laws, and of every Government. But in a metaphysical Sense, a Man cannot be a Subject before he is a Moral Agent; for it is Moral Agency alone, which renders him amenable, or subject to any Law, or Government. However, as he is born with the Instincts and Dispositions of a social Creature, he necessarily becomes a Member of some Society or other, as soon as he has an Opportunity, by the very Impulse of his Nature, if there are any human Beings within his Reach to associate with. But whether this Association must always be formed by Means of an express mutual Compact, Engagement, and Stipulation, or whether it cannot be formed [I mean justly and rightly formed] any other Way, is the important Question now to be determined.
2dly.Let the Mode of entering into this Society be what it may, whether by express Covenant, or otherwise, I perfectly agree with Mr. Locke and his Disciples, that the Government and Direction of such a Society is a Matter of public Trust, and not of private Property:—a Trust to be executed for the Good of the whole, and not for the private Advantage of the Governors and Directors;—any otherwise, than as they themselves will find their own Account in promoting the Prosperity of the Community.
3dly.I very readily allow, that if these Trustees should so far forget the Nature of their Office, as to act directly contrary thereunto in the general Tenor of their Administration;—and if neither humble Petition, nor decent Remonstrance can reclaim, and bring them to a Sense of their Duty;—then Recourse must be had to the only Expedient still remaining, Force of Arms:—And I add further, that the critical Moment for the Application of such a desperate Remedy, seems to be,—when the Evils suffered are grown so great and intolerable, without any reasonable Prospect of Amendment, that, according to the most impartial Calculation, they evidently over-balance those which would be brought on by resisting such evil Governors.
All these Points being previously settled, there can be no Controversy between Mr. Locke’s Disciples and me about the patriarchal Scheme in any of its Branches, or indeed about any Sort of an indefeasible hereditary Right whatever:—Much less about unlimited passive Obedience, and Non-resistance. For I think we are all perfectly agreed, that neither Kings, nor Senators, neither Patrician-Republics, nor Plebean-Republics, neither hereditary, nor elective Governors can, in the Words of the great Poet,
Have any Right divine to govern wrong.
And if Sovereigns have no Right to do wrong, the Subjects must certainly have a Right to prevent them from doing it. For it is clear, that in such a Case the People cannot offend against the righteous Laws of God, or the just Laws of Man, in defending their own Rights.
The Question, therefore, the sole Question now to be decided, is simply this, “Whether that Government is to be justly deemed an Usurpation, which is not founded on the express mutual Compact of all the Parties interested therein, or belonging thereunto?” Usurpation is a Word of a most odious Sound; and Usurpations and Robberies are Things so detestably bad, that no honest, or good Man can wish them Prosperity, or even Existence. It is therefore to be hoped for the Honour of human Nature, and the Good of Mankind, that some Governments or other, besides those of Mr. Locke’s modelling, or approving, may be found in the World, which deserve a better Fate, than that which is due to Robberies and Usurpations.
But let us now hear the Opinion of this great Man himself, and of the most eminent of his Followers, concerning the Origin, and only true Foundation, of Civil Government, according to their System.
QUOTATIONS from Mr.Locke.
Mr. Locke, in his 2d. Treatise concerning Government, Chap. viii. of the Beginning of political Societies, delivers himself in these Words:
“§ 95. Men being, as hath been said, [in the former Chapters] all free, equal, and independent,—no one can be put out of this Estate, and subjected to the political Power of another, without his own Consent: The only Way, whereby any one divests himself of his natural Liberty, and puts on the Bonds of Civil Society, is by agreeing with other Men to join and unite in a Community, for their comfortable, safe, and peaceable Living one among another, in a secure Enjoyment of their Properties, and a greater Security against any that are not of it. This any Number of Men may do, because it injures not the Freedom of the rest: They are left as they were, in the Liberty of a State of Nature. When any Number of Men have so consented to make one Community, or Government, they are thereby presently incorporated, and made one Body politic, wherein the Majority have a Right to act.
“§ 98. And thus, that which begins, and actually concludes any political Society, is nothing but the Consent of a Number of free Men, capable of a Majority to unite, and incorporate into such a Society. And this is that and that only, which did, or could give Beginning to any lawful Government in the World.
“§ 116. ’Tis true, that whatever Engagements or Promises any one has made for himself, he is under the Obligation of them, but cannot by any Compact whatever bind his Children, or Posterity. For his Son, when a Man, being altogether as free as the Father, any Act of the Father can no more give away the Liberty of the Son, than it can of any Body else. He may indeed annex such Conditions to the Land he enjoyed, as a Subject of any Common-Wealth, as may oblige his Son to be of that Community, if he will enjoy those Possessions, which were his Father’s:—Because that Estate being his Father’s Property, he may dispose, or settle it as he pleases.
“§ 119. Every Man being, as hath been shewn, naturally free, and nothing being able to put him into Subjection to any earthly Power, but his own Consent, it is to be considered, what shall be understood to be a sufficient Declaration of a Man’s Consent to make him subject to the Laws of any Government. There is a common Distinction of an express, and a tacit Consent, which will concern our present Case. Nobody doubts, but an express Consent of any Man entering into any Society, makes him a perfect Member of that Society, a Subject of that Government. The Difficulty is, what ought to be looked upon as a tacit Consent, and how far it binds; i. e. how far any one shall be looked on to have consented, and thereby submitted to any Government, where he has made no Expressions of it at all. And to this I say, that every Man, that hath any Possession or Enjoyment of any Part of the Dominions of any Government, doth thereby give his tacit Consent, and is as far forth obliged to Obedience to the Laws of that Government, during such Enjoyment, as any one under it, whether this his Possession be of Land to him, and his Heirs for ever;—or a Lodging only for a Week, or whether it be barely travelling freely on the High Way: And it in Effect reaches as far as the very being of any one within the Territories of that Government.
“§ 120. To understand this the better;—Whosoever therefore from thenceforth by Inheritance, Purchase, Permission, or other-ways, enjoys any Part of the Land so annexed to, and under the Government of that Common-Wealth, must take it with the Condition it is under; that is, of submitting to the Government of the Common-Wealth, under whose Jurisdiction it is, as far forth as any Subject of it.
“§ 121. But since the Government has a direct Jurisdiction only over the Land, and reaches the Possessor of it (before he has actually incorporated himself in the Society) only as he dwells upon, and enjoys that, the Obligation any one is under by Virtue of such Enjoyment, to submit to the Government, begins and ends with the Enjoyment: So that whenever the Owner, who has given nothing but such tacit Consent to the Government, will by Donation, Sale, or otherways quit the said Possession, he is at Liberty to go, and incorporate himself into any other Common-Wealth, or to agree with others, to begin a new one in vacuis locis, in any Part of the World they can find free, and unpossessed.
“§ 122. Butsubmitting to the Laws of any Country, living quietly, and enjoying Privileges and Protection under them, ☞ makes not a Man a Member of that Society:—Nothing can make a Man so, but his ☞ actually entering into it by positive Engagements, and express Promise and Compact.