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others, when the pursuit of happiness by one man interferes with the pursuit of happiness by another, or by others.
Next comes Mr. Skidmore's right to property. This also, we presume, is one of the natural, unalienable, indefeasible rights belonging to every human creature born into existence.
Suppose, by way of argument, we grant, as we are nothing loth to grant, that every infant is born with a right to plumporridge for breakfast, peas-pudding for dinner, and gilt gingerbread for supper, we doubt whether this is an unalienable or indefeasible right; for if his elder brother of half a dozen years old, should come and insist upon depriving the possessor of his plum-porridge, may he not be allowed to alien it, to be saved from a drubbing? And so with respect to any other property, the possessor may undoubtedly transfer it on sufficient good causes and considerations, him thereunto moving.
We reverence the character of Mr. Jefferson; we believe he was, upon the whole, second to no ruler that ever lived, either in purity of motive or rectitude of conduct. We know not his superior. But he was not infallible. It is not a conclusive argument to us, (nullius addicti jurare in verba magistri) that a position is laid before us, not to be controverted on the “ AUTOS EQn,” the master has said it. We hold that part of the Declaration of Independence to be mere words without meaning; or untrue in respect of any meaning that can reasonably be attached to them. Let him defend them who can.
Right: what is it? Rectum, directum; from regere, dirigere : that which is commanded by competent authority. In a state of nature there are no rights but the right of the strongest; the only right that pervades the whole animal creation. When communities, societies take place, rights, and their correlatives, duties, are enacted, ordered, commanded, directed by the competent authority of the society; competent, because the force and power of the society is engaged to give them efficacy and sanction.
A savage kills a deer ; another savage, stronger and better armed, comes and takes it from him. I killed the deer, says the first savage; by what right do you take it from me? By the same right you had to kill it, says the other; by the right of force; the right of the strongest.
Societies and communities may reasonably be presumed to be formed originally, to prevent these mutual quarrels and depredations, and to protect each other's persons and acquisitions, by the united force of the society. Rights, therefore, do not exist in a state of nature: they are the very creatures of society; they are what society ordains them to be; wisely or
foolishly, or cautiously, or rashly ordained, according to the experience, the knowledge and the wisdom existing in the lawmakers at the time. To talk, therefore, of natural, unalienable, indefeasible rights belonging to every human creature, is to talk of nonentities-political metaphysics; where one man listens to what he does not comprehend, propounded by another who does not understand a syllable of his own discourse.
Writers on the theory of republican politics, lay it down as an incontrovertible, self-evident maxim that no man ought to be governed but by his own consent, given either by himself or his representative. Hence is deduced the right of universal suffrage. This is manifestly a social right; there is no such thing as a right of voting in a state of nature. If it be a social right, it depends on the good pleasure of the society; if they choose to allow and ordain it, well; if not, whence do you get this right? How will you obtain, how enforce it? Oh! but it is unjust and tyrannical to exact obedience to laws, that the person required to obey, has had no voice in enacting? The reply is, justice and it justice must be practically determined by the voice of the majority, and the sanction of the public force.. It has been so from the beginning, it is so now, here and everywhere. Resist, if you have the force to justify resistance; if not, quit the country or submit. It is entirely a prudential calculation.
The only criterion and rule-the only defensible end and purpose of every public law and measure, is the good of society ; public utility. This, and this only is the rational object of every social, of every political community in every thing they ordain. It is the only rational guide and test of every public proceeding; the greatest good of the greatest number. This will be pursued and attained more steadily and effectually, in proportion to the quantity of knowledge pervading the members of the community. In that proportion will it be a predominant maxim that honesty is the best policy in private and in public; and that injustice never leads to the public good; for wise men know this maxim to be the dictate of universal experience.
But whatever be the measure proposed, by this criterion must it be tried. Will it operate in favour of the public good ? That is the question : to be determined by the circumstances under which it appears, and according to the best lights society possesses. In this manner then, let us try the question of universal suffrage.
Suppose one hundred persons agree to form a book-club; a reading society; and that they contribute annually a certain sum per head, and that they appoint a committee to manage the concerns of the society. Every member will have a vote.
VOL. VI.NO, 11.
Why? because every member is equally interested, and no good reason can be assigned for exclusion or limitation.
Suppose a joint-stock company investing two hundred and fifty thousand dollars in shares of fifty dollars each. One man takes one share, others take ten, twenty, fifty, one hundred each. Is it not the universal practice to adopt some relative proportion between the votes and the shares. So that a man who invests, who risks five thousand dollars in the concern, shall have more influence on the conduct of its affairs than a man who invests but fifty. Why? because the former is far more interested in the prosperity of the company than the latter; and, upon the common chances of human conduct, will be more alive to the good of the concern. Is it not in such a society the universal practice to limit the number of votes any stockholder should be allowed to give? Why? because if unlimited, a few of the great subscribers might make the interest of the company subservient to their own interest. In such an association, is any man permitted to vote in the management of the affairs of the company, who has no share in it, who is not a stockholder at all ?
All these cases are settled in smaller associations, upon the same common-sense inquiry that ought to guide the conduct of every association, large or small; viz. what regulations are likely to be most conducive to the common good, upon the best lights that can be afforded to determine this point ?
Society--political communities are established for mutual defence against a common enemy, and for the preservation of peace and order within the community, by equal protection afforded to persons and to property, by laws operating equally on every member of the coinmunity.
The members of every community, the inhabitants of every civilized country, are divided into those who do, and those who do not possess manifest, visible, located property ; property taxed for its protection in proportion to its amount.
Have the inhabitants, the working and labouring classes those who are sojourners only, who have no visible, permanent stake in the country, no fixed, located, taxed property—a right to legislate over the property of those who have earned, acquired and possess it? If they have that right, whence do, whence can they derive it, but from the concessions of the community wherein they reside!
Is it expedient to make this concession ? to allow those who have no property of their own, to legislate over the property of others? That is, to extend the right of voting to every human being, whether he possesses property in the community, whether
he contributes to its revenue by the payment of taxes, whether he has any visible, ascertainable stake in the country to bind him to the community, or not? The right of voting for those who are to legislate, and the right of legislating, are, manifestly, not natural but social rights; they exist if the community confers them, they have no existence if it does not. The only question is, will it conduce to the common good to allow of universal suffrage ?
It.is conceded, that all laws respecting persons, shall operate on all persons equally. So that the men of no property are, in this respect, equally guarded and protected, with the possessor of the greatest property. But as society was instituted principally to protect every member in the lawful acquisition of property, and to protect that property when acquired, those who have none of their own, can have no well-founded claims to dispose of the property of others, whether by legislation or in any other compulsory way. What right of control can the day labourer honestly claim over the house I inhabit, the land I cul. tivate, or the money in my desk ? Is he injured if I say, let those make laws about property who have property of their own to be protected? Let those legislate who have a common interest in the laws enacted.
The right of voting has long been exercised in Great-Britain. We understand in this country all the details of it in that; and, in considering a question of expedience, we are not to throw aside all the knowledge of analogous facts that the experience of other communities holds out to us. In that country, the privilege of voting is a farce. Those who are needy, sell it to the highest bidder. “Seats in Parliament (said Horne Tooke) are bought and sold as openly and notoriously as stalls for cattle at a fair.” Who ever pretended to contradict him? “I am much obliged to you, gentlemen, for your instructions,” said a worthy member to a committee of his constituents, “but I bought you, and by I'll sell you."
Mr. Elliot, some years ago, was summoned before a committee of the House of Commons, on a contested election; he appeared as witness for the petitioner against the sitting member.
“ Mr. Elliot, (says a member of the committee) you were agent on this election for the petitioner ?" Mr. Elliot. “I was, sir."
Question. “The charge is bribery and corruption. Pray, sir, did your party bribe none of the voters?”
Mr. Elliot.“ Most certainly, sir; we bribed every man whom we could persuade to take a bribe."
Question. “Very extraordinary indeed, sir, that you should come here as witness for the petitioner, and acknowledge this?"
Mr. Elliot. “Not at all, sir; it is quite in the regular course; too true for me or any one else to deny or conceal it.”
Question. “Pray, then, sir, how came you not to succeed?" Mr. Elliot. “The other party oul-bribed us, sir.”
In this country, the candidates are too poor to distribute money : but it is a practice, far too common, to distribute whiskey to the rabble, and accept without scruple the votes thus disgracefully obtained.
In that country, it is notorious that from three-fourths to fourfifths of all the members of the House of Commons are put in by great landholders, by government influence, by boroughpurchase, or by direct, open, unconcealed bribery. Four-fifths of all the voters in the kingdom are either commanded like slaves, or paid to vote as others direct. They are no more represented, so far as their own wills and inclinations are concerned, than the coach-horses of the sitting member. Not only all the great landholders exercise a despotic control over the votes of their tenantry, but all the great manufacturers do the same over the operatives they employ. The fact is so notorious, so undeniable, that we shall take for granted, that not one reader of this review will be hardy enough to deny that the whole system of British suffrage and parliamentary election, is a system of barefaced bribery and corruption ; so much so, that in the valuation of landed property in a reported case, Lord Thurlow took into consideration the borough interest attached to it.
Persons employed by the wealthy, and who are themselves poor, and dependent on such employment, will be apt to vote as their employers direct. Their vote, in such a case, is not their own : they enjoy a nominal right only—a right really exercised under the command of their masters or employers. At the last election for President, was not General Jackson opposed by northern manufacturers, who, to ensure the votes of their operatives, had the candidates' names printed on calico ? Persons who are thus dependent, ought not to be permitted the exercise of a privilege which they possess only in name, and which others can so extensively and so effectually control. Allow it, and the effect will be not to promote the influence or increase the privileges of the poor, but to add enormously to the power of the rich and powerful. Hence in England, the Duke of Richmond's plan of universal suffrage has never been countenanced by the friends of the people: the advocates of