Front Page Titles (by Subject) OBJECTS OF THE EVENING POST - Democratick Editorials: Essays in Jacksonian Political Economy
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OBJECTS OF THE EVENING POST - William Leggett, Democratick Editorials: Essays in Jacksonian Political Economy 
Democratic Editorials: Essays in Jacksonian Political Economy, Foreword by Lawrence H. White (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1984).
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OBJECTS OF THE EVENING POST
January 3, 1835.
Title added by Sedgwick.
Those who only read the declamations of the opponents of the Equal Rights of the people, may be induced to believe that this paper advocates principles at war with the very existence of social rights and social order. But what have we asked in the name of the people, that such an interested clamour should be raised against them and us? What have we done or said, that we should be denounced as incendiaries, striking at the very roots of society and tearing down the edifice of property? It may be useful to recapitulate what we have already done, in order that those who please may judge whether or not we deserve these reproaches, from any but the enemies of the equal rights of person and property.
In the first place, in designating the true functions of a good government, we placed the protection of property among its first and principal duties. We referred to it as one of the great objects for the attainment of which all governments were originally instituted. Does this savour of hostility to the rights of property?
In the second place, we maintained that all grants of monopolies, or exclusive or partial privileges to any man, or body of men, impaired the equal rights of the people, and was in direct violation of the first principle of a free government. Does it savour of hostility to the rights of property to maintain that all property has equal rights, and that exclusive privileges granted to one class of men, or one species of property, impair the equal rights of all the others?
As a deduction from these principles, we draw the conclusion that charters conferring partial or exclusive monopolies on small fractions of society, are infringements on the general rights of society, and therefore that the system ought to be abandoned as soon as possible, as utterly at war with the rights of the people at large. It is here that the shoe pinches, and here the clamour against us will be found to originate. Thousands and tens of thousands of influential individuals, at the bar, on the bench, in our legislative bodies, and everywhere, are deeply interested in the continuance of these abuses. Lawmakers, law-expounders and law executors, have invested either their money or their credit in corporations of every kind, and it is not to be wondered at that they should cry out against the abandonment of a system from whence they derive such exorbitant gains.
We are accused of violating vested rights when we ask, in the name of the people, that no more be created, and that all those possessing the means and the inclination, may be admitted, under general regulations, to a participation in the privileges which hitherto have been only enjoyed through the caprice, the favour, the policy, or the corruption, of legislative bodies. We never even hinted at touching those vested rights, until the period to which they had been extended by law had expired, and till it could be done without a violation of legislative faith. We defy any man to point out in any of our arguments on this subject a single idea or sentence that will sustain the charge of hostility to actually vested rights. Our opposition was prospective, not retroactive; it was not to present, but to future vested rights.
In attacking a course of policy in the future, do we make war on the past? In pointing out what we believe errors in former legislation, and recommending their abandonment in future, do we violate any right of property, or recommend any breach of public faith? Or, in advocating the equal rights of all, do we impair the constitutional rights of any? It might be well for the clamourous few who assail our principles and our motives with opprobrious epithets, which, though they do not understand their purport themselves, they mean should convey the most dishonourable imputations—it might be well for them to answer these questions before they resort to railing.
One of the greatest supports of an erroneous system of legislation, is the very evil it produces. When it is proposed to remedy the mischief by adopting a new system, every abuse which has been the result of the old one becomes an obstacle to reformations. Every political change, however salutary, must be injurious to the interests of some, and it will be found that those who profit by abuses are always more clamourous for their continuance than those who are only opposing them from motives of justice or patriotism, are for their abandonment. Such is precisely the state of the question of monopoly at this moment.
Under the abuses of the right to grant exclusive privileges to the few, which is a constructive, if not a usurped power, a vast and concentrated interest and influence has grown up among us, which will undoubtedly be seriously affected in its monopoly of gain from that source, by the discontinuance of their chartered privileges, when they shall expire by their own limitation. The admission of all others having the means and the inclination to associate for similar purposes, by destroying the monopoly at one blow, will in all probability diminish the prospect of future gains; and these will be still further curtailed, by at first restricting banks in their issues of small notes and in the amount of notes they are permitted to put into circulation, and finally by repealing the restraining law,1 and throwing banking open to the free competition of the whole community. These may prove serious evils to the parties concerned; but it is a poor argument to say that a bad system should be persevered in, least a small minority of the community should suffer some future inconvenience. The magnitude of the evils produced by an erroneous system of legislation, far from being a circumstance in favour of its continuance or increase, is the strongest argument in the world for its being abandoned as soon as possible. Every reformation may in this way be arrested, under the pretence that the evils it will cause are greater than those it will cure. On the same principle the drawing of a tooth might be opposed, on the ground that the pain is worse than that of the tooth-ache, keeping out of sight the fact that the one is a lasting and increasing, the other a momentary evil.
It is the nature of political abuses, to be always on the increase, unless arrested by the virtue, intelligence and firmness of the people. If not corrected in time, they grow up into a gigantic vigour and notoriety which at length enables them to wrestle successfully with the people, and overthrow them and their rights. The possessors of monopolies and exclusive privileges, which form the essence of every bad government, pervert a long perseverance in the wrong, into a political right; abuses grow venerable by time; usurpation matures into proscription; distinctions become hereditary; and what cannot be defended by reason, is maintained on the ground that a long continuance of wrongs, and a long possession of rights, are equally sacred.
[1 ]This law prohibited banks not expressly chartered by the New York State legislature.—Ed.