Front Page Titles (by Subject) Section V. - A Letter to Grover Cleveland, on his false Inaugural Address, the Usurpations and Crimes of Lawmakers and Judges, and the consequent Poverty, Ignorance, and Servitude of the People
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Section V. - Lysander Spooner, A Letter to Grover Cleveland, on his false Inaugural Address, the Usurpations and Crimes of Lawmakers and Judges, and the consequent Poverty, Ignorance, and Servitude of the People 
A Letter to Grover Cleveland, on his false Inaugural Address, the Usurpations and Crimes of Lawmakers and Judges, and the consequent Poverty, Ignorance, and Servitude of the People (Boston: Benjamin R. Tucker Publisher, 1886).
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Sir, I repeat that individual rights are the only human rights. Legally speaking, there are no such things as “public rights,” as distinguished from individual rights. Legally speaking, there is no such creature or thing as “the public.” The term “the public” is an utterly vague and indefinite one, applied arbitrarily and at random to a greater or less number of individuals, each and every one of whom have their own separate, individual rights, and none others. And the protection of these separate, individual rights is the one only legitimate purpose, for which anything in the nature of a governing, or coercive, power has a right to exist. And these separate, individual rights all rest upon, and can be ascertained only by, the one science of justice.
Legally speaking, the term “public rights” is as vague and indefinite as are the terms “public health,” “public good,” “public welfare,” and the like. It has no legal meaning, except when used to describe the separate, private, individual rights of a greater or less number of individuals.
In so far as the separate, private, natural rights of individuals are secured, in just so far, and no farther, are the “public rights” secured. In so far as the separate, private, natural rights of individuals are disregarded or violated, in just so far are “public rights” disregarded or violated. Therefore all the pretences of so-called lawmakers, that they are protecting “public rights,” by violating private rights, are sheer and utter contradictions and frauds. They are just as false and absurd as it would be to say that they are protecting the public health, by arbitrarily poisoning and destroying the health of single individuals.
The pretence of the lawmakers, that they are promoting the “public good,” by violating individual “rights,” is just as false and absurd as is the pretence that they are protecting “public rights” by violating “private rights.” Sir, the greatest “public good,” of which any coercive power, calling itself a government, or by any other name, is capable, is the protection of each and every individual in the quiet and peaceful enjoyment and exercise of all his own natural, inherent, inalienable, individual “rights.” This is a “good” that comes home to each and every individual, of whom “the public” is composed. It is also a “good,” which each and every one of these individuals, composing “the public,” can appreciate. It is a “good,” for the loss of which governments can make no compensation whatever. It is a universal and impartial “good,” of the highest importance to each and every human being; and not any such vague, false, and criminal thing as the lawmakers—when violating private rights—tell us they are trying to accomplish, under the name of “the public good.” It is also the only “equal and exact justice,” which you, or anybody else, are capable of securing, or have any occasion to secure, to any human being. Let but this “equal and exact justice” be secured “to all men,” and they will then be abundantly able to take care of themselves, and secure their own highest “good.” Or if any one should ever chance to need anything more than this, he may safely trust to the voluntary kindness of his fellow men to supply it.
It is one of those things not easily accounted for, that men who would scorn to do an injustice to a fellow man, in a private transaction,—who would scorn to usurp any arbitrary dominion over him, or his property,—who would be in the highest degree indignant, if charged with any private injustice,—and who, at a moment’s warning, would take their lives in their hands, to defend their own rights, and redress their own wrongs,—will, the moment they become members of what they call a government, assume that they are absolved from all principles and all obligations that were imperative upon them, as individuals; will assume that they are invested with a right of arbitrary and irresponsible dominion over other men, and other men’s property. Yet they are doing this continually. And all the laws they make are based upon the assumption that they have now become invested with rights that are more than human, and that those, on whom their laws are to operate, have lost even their human rights. They seem to be utterly blind to the fact, that the only reason there can be for their existence as a government, is that they may protect those very “rights,” which they before scrupulously respected, but which they now unscrupulously trample upon.