Front Page Titles (by Subject) Section VI. - 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 VI. - 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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But you evidently believe nothing of what I have now been saying. You evidently believe that justice is no law at all, unless in cases where the lawmakers may chance to prefer it to any law which they themselves can invent.
You evidently believe that a certain paper, called the constitution, which nobody ever signed, which few persons ever read, which the great body of the people never saw, and as to the meaning of which no two persons were ever agreed, is the supreme law of this land, anything in the law of nature—anything in the natural, inherent, inalienable, individual rights of fifty millions of people—to the contrary notwithstanding.
Did folly, falsehood, absurdity, assumption, or criminality ever reach a higher point than that?
You evidently believe that those great volumes of statutes, which the people at large have never read, nor even seen, and never will read, nor see, but which such men as you and your lawmakers have been manufacturing for nearly a hundred years, to restrain them of their liberty, and deprive them of their natural rights, were all made for their benefit, by men wiser than they—wiser even than justice itself—and having only their welfare at heart!
You evidently believe that the men who made those laws were duly authorized to make them; and that you yourself have been duly authorized to enforce them. But in this you are utterly mistaken. You have not so much as the honest, responsible scratch of one single pen, to justify you in the exercise of the power you have taken upon yourself to exercise. For example, you have no such evidence of your right to take any man’s property for the support of your government, as would be required of you, if you were to claim pay for a single day’s honest labor.
It was once said, in this country, that taxation without consent was robbery. And a seven years’ war was fought to maintain that principle. But if that principle were a true one in behalf of three millions of men, it is an equally true one in behalf of three men, or of one man.
Who are ever taxed? Individuals only. Who have property that can be taxed? Individuals only. Who can give their consent to be taxed? Individuals only. Who are ever taxed without their consent? Individuals only. Who, then, are robbed, if taxed without their consent? Individuals only.
If taxation without consent is robbery, the United States government has never had, has not now, and is never likely to have, a single honest dollar in its treasury.
If taxation without consent is not robbery, then any band of robbers have only to declare themselves a government, and all their robberies are legalized.
If any man’s money can be taken by a so-called government, without his own personal consent, all his other rights are taken with it; for with his money the government can, and will, hire soldiers to stand over him, compel him to submit to its arbitrary will, and kill him if he resists.
That your whole claim of a right to any man’s money for the support of your government, without his consent, is the merest farce and fraud, is proved by the fact that you have no such evidence of your right to take it, as would be required of you, by one of your own courts, to prove a debt of five dollars, that might be honestly due you.
You and your lawmakers have no such evidence of your right of dominion over the people of this country, as would be required to prove your right to any material property, that you might have purchased.
When a man parts with any considerable amount of such material property as he has a natural right to part with,—as, for example, houses, or lands, or food, or clothing, or anything else of much value,—he usually gives, and the purchaser usually demands, some written acknowledgment, receipt, bill of sale, or other evidence, that will prove that he voluntarily parted with it, and that the purchaser is now the real and true owner of it. But you hold that fifty millions of people have voluntarily parted, not only with their natural right of dominion over all their material property, but also with all their natural right of dominion over their own souls and bodies; when not one of them has ever given you a scrap of writing, or even “made his mark,” to that effect.
You have not so much as the honest signature of a single human being, granting to you or your lawmakers any right of dominion whatever over him or his property.
You hold your place only by a title, which, on no just principle of law or reason, is worth a straw. And all who are associated with you in the government—whether they be called senators, representatives, judges, executive officers, or what not—all hold their places, directly or indirectly, only by the same worthless title. That title is nothing more nor less than votes given in secret (by secret ballot), by not more than one-fifth of the whole population. These votes were given in secret solely because those who gave them did not dare to make themselves personally responsible, either for their own acts, or the acts of their agents, the lawmakers, judges, etc.
These voters, having given their votes in secret (by secret ballot), have put it out of your power—and out of the power of all others associated with you in the government—to designate your principals individually. That is to say, you have no legal knowledge as to who voted for you, or who voted against you. And being unable to designate your principals individually, you have no right to say that you have any principals. And having no right to say that you have any principals, you are bound, on every just principle of law or reason, to confess that you are mere usurpers, making laws, and enforcing them, upon your own authority alone.
A secret ballot makes a secret government; and a secret government is nothing else than a government by conspiracy. And a government by conspiracy is the only government we now have.
You say that “every voter exercises a public trust.”
Who appointed him to that trust? Nobody. He simply usurped the power; he never accepted the trust. And because he usurped the power, he dares exercise it only in secret. Not one of all the ten millions of voters, who helped to place you in power, would have dared to do so, if he had known that he was to be held personally responsible, before any just tribunal, for the acts of those for whom he voted.
Inasmuch as all the votes, given for you and your lawmakers, were given in secret, all that you and they can say, in support of your authority as rulers, is that you venture upon your acts as lawmakers, etc., not because you have any open, authentic, written, legitimate authority granted you by any human being,—for you can show nothing of the kind,—but only because, from certain reports made to you of votes given in secret, you have reason to believe that you have at your backs a secret association strong enough to sustain you by force, in case your authority should be resisted.
Is there a government on earth that rests upon a more false, absurd, or tyrannical basis than that?