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A Letter to Thomas F. Bayard   By: (1808-1887)

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A LETTER

TO

THOMAS F. BAYARD

CHALLENGING HIS RIGHT AND THAT OF ALL THE OTHER SO CALLED SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES IN CONGRESS

TO EXERCISE ANY LEGISLATIVE POWER WHATEVER OVER THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES.

BY LYSANDER SPOONER.

BOSTON, MASS.: PUBLISHED BY THE AUTHOR. 1882.

A Letter to Thomas F. Bayard

" Challenging his right and that of all the other so called senators and representatives in Congress to exercise any legislative power whatever over the people of the United States. "

by Lysander Spooner

To Thomas F. Bayard, of Delaware:

Sir I have read your letter to Rev. Lyman Abbott, in which you express the opinion that it is at least possible for a man to be a legislator (under the Constitution of the United States) and yet be an honest man.

This proposition implies that you hold it to be at least possible that some four hundred men should, by some process or other, become invested with the right to make laws of their own that is, laws wholly of their own device , and therefore necessarily distinct from the law of nature, or the principles of natural justice; and that these laws of their own making shall be really and truly obligatory upon the people of the United States; and that, therefore, the people may rightfully be compelled to obey them.

All this implies that you are of the opinion that the Congress of the United States, of which you are a member, has, by some process or other, become possessed of some right of arbitrary dominion over the people of the United States; which right of arbitrary dominion is not given by, and is, therefore, necessarily in conflict with, the law of nature, the principles of natural justice, and the natural rights of men, as individuals. All this is necessarily implied in the idea that the Congress now possesses any right whatever to make any laws whatever, of its own device that is, any laws that shall be either more, less, or other than that natural law, which it can neither make, unmake, nor alter and cause them to be enforced upon the people of the United States, or any of them, against their will.

You assume that the right of arbitrary dominion that is, the right of making laws of their own device, and compelling obedience to them is a "trust" that has been delegated to those who now exercise that power. You call it "the trust of public power."

But, Sir, you are mistaken in supposing that any such power has ever been delegated, or ever can be delegated, by any body, to any body.

Any such delegation of power is naturally impossible, for these reasons, viz:

1. No man can delegate, or give to another, any right of arbitrary dominion over himself; for that would be giving himself away as a slave. And this no one can do. Any contract to do so is necessarily an absurd one, and has no validity. To call such a contract a "constitution," or by any other high sounding name, does not alter its character as an absurd and void contract.

2. No man can delegate, or give to another, any right of arbitrary dominion over a third person; for that would imply a right in the first person, not only to make the third person his slave, but also a right to dispose of him as a slave to still other persons. Any contract to do this is necessarily a criminal one, and therefore invalid. To call such a contract a "constitution" does not at all lessen its criminality, or add to its validity.

These facts, that no man can delegate, or give away, his own natural right to liberty, nor any other man's natural right to liberty, prove that he can delegate no right of arbitrary dominion whatever or, what is the same thing, no legislative power whatever over himself or anybody else, to any man, or body of men.

This impossibility of any man's delegating any legislative power whatever, necessarily results from the fact that the law of nature has drawn the line, and the only line and that, too, a line that can never be effaced nor removed between each man's own interest and inalienable rights of person and property, and each and every other man's inherent and inalienable rights of person and property... Continue reading book >>




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