Lysander Spooner

Lysander Spooner

No Treason #1

But to say that the consent of either the strongest party, or the most numerous party, in a nation, is a sufficient justification for the establishment or maintenance of a government that shall control the whole nation, does not obviate the difficulty. The question still remains, how comes such a thing as "a nation" to exist? How do many millions of men, scattered over an extensive territory---each gifted by nature with individual freedom; required by the law of nature to call no man, or body of men, his masters; authorized by that law to seek his own happiness in his own way, to do what he will with himself and his property, so long as he does not trespass upon the equal liberty of others; authorized also, by that law, to defend his own rights, and redress his own wrongs; and to go to the assistance and defense of any of his fellow men who may be suffering any kind of injustice---how do many millions of such men come to be a nation, in the first place? How is it that each of them comes compressed, compacted, and consolidated into a mass with other men, whom he never saw; with whom he has no contract; and towards many of whom he has no sentiments but fear, hatred, or contempt? How does he become subjected to the control of men like himself, who, by nature, had no authority over him; but who command him to do this, and forbid him to do that, as if they were his sovereigns, and he their subject; and as if their wills who compel him to submission under peril of confiscation, imprisonment, or death? Clearly all this is the work of force, fraud, or both.

By what right, then, did we become "a nation?" By what right do we continue to be "a nation?" And by what right do either the strongest, or the most numerous, party, now existing within the territorial limits, called "The United States," claim that there really is such "a nation" as the United States? Certainly they are bound to show the rightful existence of "a nation," before they can claim, on that ground, that they themselves have a right to control it; to seize, for their purposes, so much of every man's property within it, as they may choose; and, at their discretion, to compel any man to risk his own life, or take the lives of other men, for the maintenance of their power.

To speak of either their numbers, or their strength, is not to the purpose. The question is by what right does the nation exist? And by what right are so many atrocities committed by its authority? or for its preservation?

The answer to this question must certainly be, that at least such a nation exists by no right whatsoever.We are, therefore, driven to the acknowledgment that nations and governments, if they can rightfully exist at all, can exist only by consent.


No Treason - Introduction
No Treason #1, Chapter IV

No Treason #2 (1867)
No Treason #6 (1870)

NOTICE: Lysander Spooner is not affiliated with Freedom School.
NOTICE: If anything in this presentation is found to be in error a good faith effort will be made to correct it in timely fashion upon notification.
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