Front Page Titles (by Subject) X. - Address of the Free Constitutionalists to the People of the United States
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X. - Lysander Spooner, Address of the Free Constitutionalists to the People of the United States 
Address of the Free Constitutionalists to the People of the United States (Boston: Thayer & Eldridge, 1860).
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There is still another point of great practical importance to be considered. It is this: If those now held in bondage in this country are, in the view of “the supreme law of the land,” citizens of the United States, entitled to the full privileges of citizenship equally with all the other citizens of the United States, then it is not only the constitutional right and duty of both the general and State governments to protect them in the enjoyment of all their rights as citizens, but it is also not merely a moral duty, but a strictly legal and constitutional right, of all the other citizens of the country to go, in their private capacity as individuals, to the rescue of those enslaved.
It is as much a legal right of one citizen to rescue another from the hands of a kidnapper, as to rescue him or her from a robber, ravisher, or assassin. And all the force necessary for the accomplishment of the object may be lawfully used.
When the government fails to protect the people against robbers, kidnappers, ravishers, and murderers, it is not only a legal right, but an imperative moral duty, of the people to take their mutual defence into their own hands. And the constitution recognizes this right, when it declares that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed;” for “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” implies their right to use them when necessary for their protection.*
We claim it as a legal and constitutional right to travel in all parts of our common country, and to perform the common offices of humanity towards all whom we may find needing them. And if, in our travels, we chance to see a fellow-man in the hands of a kidnapper or slaveholder, we claim the right to rescue him, at any necessary cost to the kidnapper. And, if any part of our country be unsafe for single travellers, or small companies of travellers, we claim the right to go in companies numerous enough to make ourselves safe, and to enable us to rescue all whom we may find needing our assistance.
And it is the legal duty of both the United States and all State courts—judges and juries—to protect us in the exercise of these rights.
[* ] If, instead of going to the rescue of a fellow-citizen, whom we see set upon by a robber, ravisher, kidnapper, or murderer, we connive at the crime, either by declaring the act legal, or encouraging the idea that it can be committed with impunity, we thereby make ourselves accomplices in the crime. By this rule, if the persons enslaved in this country are, in the view of the United States Constitution, citizens of the United States, equally with the other citizens of the United States, and we nevertheless connive at and encourage their enslavement, either by declaring it legal, or by holding out the hope that it can be done with impunity, we are, not merely in the view of the moral law, but in the view of the constitution of the United States, criminal accomplices in their enslavement.