Skip to comments.Property
Posted on 02/05/2011 6:18:31 AM PST by Jacquerie
Read this short column and weep, for as a people we have squandered our legacy.
Madison: This term [property] in its particular application means "that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual."
In its larger and juster meaning, it embraces every thing to which a man may attach a value and have a right; and which leaves to every one else the like advantage. In the former sense, a man's land, or merchandize, or money is called his property.
In the latter sense, a man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them.
He has a property of peculiar value in his religious opinions, and in the profession and practice dictated by them.
He has a property very dear to him in the safety and liberty of his person.
He has an equal property in the free use of his faculties and free choice of the objects on which to employ them.
In a word, as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.
Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions. Where there is an excess of liberty, the effect is the same, tho' from an opposite cause.
Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own. According to this standard of merit, the praise of affording a just securing to property, should be sparingly bestowed on a government which, however scrupulously guarding the possessions of individuals, does not protect them in the enjoyment and communication of their opinions, in which they have an equal, and in the estimation of some, a more valuable property.
More sparingly should this praise be allowed to a government, where a man's religious rights are violated by penalties, or fettered by tests, or taxed by a hierarchy.
Conscience is the most sacred of all property; other property depending in part on positive law, the exercise of that, being a natural and unalienable right. To guard a man's house as his castle, to pay public and enforce private debts with the most exact faith, can give no title to invade a man's conscience which is more sacred than his castle, or to withhold from it that debt of protection, for which the public faith is pledged, by the very nature and original conditions of the social pact.
That is not a just government, nor is property secure under it, where the property which a man has in his personal safety and personal liberty, is violated by arbitrary seizures of one class of citizens for the service of the rest.
A magistrate issuing his warrants to a press gang, would be in his proper functions in Turkey or compleat despotism. That is not a just government, nor is property secure under it, where arbitrary restrictions, exemptions, and monopolies deny to part of its citizens that free use of their faculties, and free choice of their occupations, which not only constitute their property in the general sense of the word; but are the means of acquiring property strictly so called.
What must be the spirit of legislation where a manufacturer of linen cloth is forbidden to bury his own child in a linen shroud, in order to favour his neighbour who manufactures woolen cloth; where the manufacturer and wearer of woolen cloth are again forbidden the economical use of buttons of that material, in favor of the manufacturer of buttons of other materials!
A just security to property is not afforded by that government, under which unequal taxes oppress one species of property and reward another species: where arbitrary taxes invade the domestic sanctuaries of the rich, and excessive taxes grind the faces of the poor; where the keenness and competitions of want are deemed an insufficient spur to labor, and taxes are again applied, by an unfeeling policy, as another spur; in violation of that sacred property, which Heaven, in decreeing man to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow, kindly reserved to him, in the small repose that could be spared from the supply of his necessities.
If there be a government then which prides itself in maintaining the inviolability of property; which provides that none shall be taken directly even for public use without indemnification to the owner, and yet directly violates the property which individuals have in their opinions, their religion, their persons, and their faculties; nay more, which indirectly violates their property, in their actual possessions, in the labor that acquires their daily subsistence, and in the hallowed remnant of time which ought to relieve their fatigues and soothe their cares, the influence [inference?] will have been anticipated, that such a government is not a pattern for the United States.
If the United States mean to obtain or deserve the full praise due to wise and just governments, they will equally respect the rights of property, and the property in rights: they will rival the government that most sacredly guards the former; and by repelling its example in violating the latter, will make themselves a pattern to that and all other governments.
The duty of citizenship includes a positive obligation to recognize and respect the Rights of others. Today, much of the electorate selects representatives based on proven ability to plunder or suppress the property of fellow Americans.
The debt of protection, IMHO is a moral debt we owe to God. Along with His given right to self government, we have the duty to govern according to a standard higher than mere human will and whatever political deals our Congressmen can devise. Our federal Government was brought into being to ensure our unalienable rights. Rather, it has clearly sought to crush these rights. There is no moral obligation to obey laws in violation of the rights given to us by God.
Thanks for a MOST EXCELLENT post!!
Oh, how far we have strayed from the path.
When the common American was protective of his Natural Rights, when we sang from the same sheet of music so to speak, our prosperity and general happiness was assured.
Today, I wonder what single digit percentage of Americans even know the purpose of government, to ensure our Natural Rights.
On the bright side, I think a real awakening is taking place. Perhaps because of the Obamamao’s daily assault on our liberties, the people are starting to notice and refer to our founding principles.
Excellent find. Thanks for posting it.
From the article:
Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions.
THAT ladies and gentlemen is why we simply MUST rid ourselves of the yoke placed on us in 1913 under Woodrow Wilson! I refer here to the communist inspired, class warfare inducing, progressive income tax!
What person can feel TRULY free to express himself in the public square while we have an organization called the IRS which can utterly destroy that person at a mere whim? In fact, what person can feel secure in ANY of the things Madison refers to under that condition?
PLEASE join me in the effort rid our nation of this curse and return taxation to a form much more in keeping with what our founders envisioned!
Thanks for the ping.
More activity, no weeping.
Thanks for the ping.
More activity, no weeping.
Not any more!
Kill the outrageous business killing Estate Tax!!
Families work their butts off to accumulate base for their business (farms, buildings, businesses) only to be screwed by hungry prostitucians out of their livelihood.
Next to the right of liberty, the right of property is the most important individual right guaranteed by the Constitution and the one which, united with that of personal liberty, has contributed more to the growth of civilization than any other institution established by the human race.
If I have the timeline right, he wrote this after an intense period of study in 1791. He dove into political philosophy and history, including Xenophon, Plato, Aristotle, Thucydides, Strabo, Dionysius Halicarnassus, Livy, and Plutarch. His modern sources included Montesquieu, Gibbon.
Anyway, he came away agreeing with Aristotle that the preservation or destruction of the constitution depended on the maintenance and renewal of its principles.
Especially as Madison defined property.
Couldn't be a more timely, or important, statement than that.
Thanks for the ping!
The fairtax would do this permanently!
The right to property IS the right to liberty! Without the former it is not possible to have the latter!
With regard to your quote on the "idea" vs. the "real estate," Madison pointed out that same concept in the following observation:
"The enviable condition of the people of the United States is often too much ascribed to the physical advantages of their soil & climate .... But a just estimate of the happiness of our country will never overlook what belongs to the fertile activity of a free people and the benign influence of a responsible government." - James Madison
May we take the Madisonian wisdom and contrast it with the prevailing wisdom (ignorance) of today?
The American idea, as encapsulated in its Declaration of Independence and structured into a Constitution for self-government, more liberty and opportunity, more productivity, and more goods and services than the world ever has seen.
To utilize Madison again, it happened under what he called "the benign influence of a responsible government."
While Europe struggled with oppressive government intervention, the genius Founders of America recognized enduring truths about human nature, the human tendency to abuse power, and the possibilities of liberty for individuals. Richard Frothingham's 1872 "History of the Rise of the Republic of the United States," Page 14, contained the following footnote item on the condition of citizens of France:
"Footnote 1. M. de Champagny (Dublin Review, April, 1868) says of France, 'We were and are unable to go from Paris to Neuilly; or dine more than twenty together; or have in our portmanteau three copies of the same tract; or lend a book to a friend: or put a patch of mortar on our own house, if it stands in the street; or kill a partridge; or plant a tree near the road-side; or take coal out of our own land: or tench three or four children to read, . .. without permission from the civil government.'
Clearly the government of France laid an oppressive regulatory and tax burden on citizens, robbing them of their Creator-endowed liberty and enjoyment thereof. Frothingham observed that such coercive power constituted "a noble form robbed of its lifegiving spirit."
Thomas Jefferson warned Americans:
"To preserve [the] independence [of the people,] we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debts as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our callings and our creeds, as the people of England are, our people, like them, must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give the earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses, and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live, as they now do, on oatmeal and potatoes, have no time to think, no means of calling the mismanagers to account, but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816. ME 15:39
Note Jefferson's very last thought here. He declares that when government taxing and debt have reached certain levels, in order for individuals to survive, then their chosen "employment" becomes "hiring ourselves to rivet their (the government's) chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers."
Think about it: in the Year 2011, where are America's levels of employment highest? Is it in the once-thriving private sector, or in the ever-increasing government sector? Have we reached that final phase of what Jefferson described as a logical end to what begins as letting "our rulers load us with perpetual debt"--a state where we actually become participants by "hiring ourselves" to make slaves of our fellow citizens?
Madison's "National Gazette" remarks are pertinent for today. Thank you for highlighting them, for they highlight and distinguish America's founding ideas from those of all regimes who deny the concept of God-given individual rights.
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