Front Page Titles (by Subject) Section XI. - 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 XI. - 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 perhaps the most brilliant idea in your whole address, is this:
Every citizen owes the country a vigilant watch and close scrutiny of its public servants, and a fair and reasonable estimate of their fidelity and usefulness. Thus is the people’s will impressed upon the whole framework of our civil policy, municipal, State, and federal; and this is the price of our liberty, and the inspiration of our faith in the republic.
The essential parts of this declaration are these:
“Every citizen owes the country a vigilant watch and close scrutiny of its public servants, . . . . . and this is the price of our liberty.”
Who are these “public servants,” that need all this watching? Evidently they are the lawmakers, and the lawmakers only. They are not only the chief “public servants,” but they are absolute masters of all the other “public servants.” These other “public servants,” judicial and executive,—the courts, the army, the navy, the collectors of taxes, etc., etc.,—have no function whatever, except that of simple obedience to the lawmakers. They are appointed, paid, and have their duties prescribed to them, by the lawmakers; and are made responsible only to the lawmakers. They are mere puppets in the hands of the lawmakers. Clearly, then, the lawmakers are the only ones we have any occasion to watch.
Your declaration, therefore, amounts, practically, to this, and this only:
Every citizen owes the country a vigilant watch and close scrutiny of ITS LAWMAKERS, . . . . . and this is the price of our liberty.
Sir, your declaration is so far true, as that all the danger to “our liberty” comes solely from the lawmakers.
And why are the lawmakers dangerous to “our liberty”? Because it is a natural impossibility that they can make any law—that is, any law of their own invention—that does not violate “our liberty.”
The law of justice is the one only law that does not violate “our liberty.” And that is not a law that was made by the lawmakers. It existed before they were born, and will exist after they are dead. It derives not one particle of its authority from any commands of theirs. It is, therefore, in no sense, one of their laws. Only laws of their own invention are their laws. And as it is naturally impossible that they can invent any law of their own, that shall not conflict with the law of justice, it is naturally impossible that they can make a law—that is, a law of their own invention—that shall not violate “our liberty.”
The law of justice is the precise measure, and the only precise measure, of the rightful “liberty” of each and every human being. Any law—made by lawmakers—that should give to any man more liberty than is given him by the law of justice, would be a license to commit an injustice upon one or more other persons. On the other hand, any law—made by lawmakers—that should take from any human being any “liberty” that is given him by the law of justice, would be taking from him a part of his own rightful “liberty.”
Inasmuch, then, as every possible law, that can be made by lawmakers, must either give to some one or more persons more “liberty” than the law of nature—or the law of justice—gives them, and more “liberty” than is consistent with the natural and equal “liberty” of all other persons; or else must take from some one or more persons some portion of that “liberty” which the law of nature—or the law of justice—gives to every human being, it is inevitable that every law, that can be made by lawmakers, must be a violation of the natural and rightful “liberty” of some one or more persons.
Therefore the very idea of a lawmaking government—a government that is to make laws of its own invention—is necessarily in direct and inevitable conflict with “our liberty.” In fact, the whole, sole, and only real purpose of any lawmaking government whatever is to take from some one or more persons their “liberty.” Consequently the only way in which all men can preserve their “liberty,” is not to have any lawmaking government at all.
We have been told, time out of mind, that “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” But this admonition, by reason of its indefiniteness, has heretofore fallen dead upon the popular mind. It, in reality, tells us nothing that we need to know, to enable us to preserve “our liberty.” It does not even tell us what “our liberty” is, or how, or when, or through whom, it is endangered, or destroyed.
1. It does not tell us that individual liberty is the only human liberty. It does not tell us that “national liberty,” “political liberty,” “republican liberty,” “democratic liberty,” “constitutional liberty,” “liberty under law,” and all the other kinds of liberty that men have ever invented, and with which tyrants, as well as demagogues, have amused and cheated the ignorant, are not liberty at all, unless in so far as they may, under certain circumstances, have chanced to contribute something to, or given some impulse toward, individual liberty.
2. It does not tell us that individual liberty means freedom from all compulsion to do anything whatever, except what justice requires us to do, and freedom to do everything whatever that justice permits us to do. It does not tell us that individual liberty means freedom from all human restraint or coercion whatsoever, so long as we “live honestly, hurt nobody, and give to every one his due.”
3. It does not tell us that there is any science of liberty; any science, which every man may learn, and by which every man may know, what is, and what is not, his own, and every other man’s, rightful “liberty.”
4. It does not tell us that this right of individual liberty rests upon an immutable, natural principle, which no human power can make, unmake, or alter; nor that all human authority, that claims to set it aside, or modify it, is nothing but falsehood, absurdity, usurpation, tyranny, and crime.
5. It does not tell us that this right of individual liberty is a natural, inherent, inalienable right; that therefore no man can part with it, or delegate it to another, if he would; and that, consequently, all the claims that have ever been made, by governments, priests, or any other powers, that individuals have voluntarily surrendered, or “delegated,” their liberty to others, are all impostures and frauds.
6. It does not tell us that all human laws, so called, and all human lawmaking,—all commands, either by one man, or any number of men, calling themselves a government, or by any other name—requiring any individual to do this, or forbidding him to do that—so long as he “lives honestly, hurts no one, and gives to every one his due”—are all false and tyrannical assumptions of a right of authority and dominion over him; are all violations of his natural, inherent, inalienable, rightful, individual liberty; and, as such, are to be resented and resisted to the utmost, by every one who does not choose to be a slave.
7. And, finally, it does not tell us that all lawmaking governments whatsoever—whether called monarchies, aristocracies, republics, democracies, or by any other name—are all alike violations of men’s natural and rightful liberty.
We can now see why lawmakers are the only enemies, from whom “our liberty” has anything to fear, or whom we have any occasion to watch. They are to be watched, because they claim the right to abolish justice, and establish injustice in its stead; because they claim the right to command us to do things which justice does not require us to do, and to forbid us to do things which justice permits us to do; because they deny our right to be, individually, and absolutely, our own masters and owners, so long as we obey the one law of justice towards all other persons; because they claim to be our masters, and that their commands, as such, are authoritative and binding upon us as law; and that they may rightfully compel us to obey them.
“Our liberty” is in danger only from the lawmakers, because it is only through the agency of lawmakers, that anybody pretends to be able to take away “our liberty.” It is only the lawmakers that claim to be above all responsibility for taking away “our liberty.” Lawmakers are the only ones who are impudent enough to assert for themselves the right to take away “our liberty.” They are the only ones who are impudent enough to tell us that we have voluntarily surrendered “our liberty” into their hands. They are the only ones who have the insolent condescension to tell us that, in consideration of our having surrendered into their hands “our liberty,” and all our natural, inherent, inalienable rights as human beings, they are disposed to give us, in return, “good government,” “the best form of government ever vouchsafed to man”; to “protect” us, to provide for our “welfare,” to promote our “interests,” etc., etc.
And yet you are just blockhead enough to tell us that if “Every citizen”—fifty millions and more of them—will but keep “a vigilant watch and close scrutiny” upon these lawmakers, “our liberty” may be preserved!
Don’t you think, sir, that you are really the wisest man that ever told “a great and free people” how they could preserve “their liberty”?
To be entirely candid, don’t you think, sir, that a surer way of preserving “our liberty” would be to have no lawmakers at all?