Posts Tagged With: Government

Hacking Through Partisanship in the U.S. Electoral Scandal……


DECEMBER 13, 2016 | 03:54 GMT

More than a month after the U.S. presidential election, the tumult shows no sign of dying down. In fact, the noise around the roles of hacking and cyber intrusions in the vote rose several decibels Monday, following a weekend of charges that Russia put its thumb on the scales in November’s election. But the resulting political debate, fueled by accusations that President-elect Donald Trump’s supporters and potential Cabinet members were complicit in the hacks or, alternatively, that the Democrats are sore losers trying to undermine the incoming administration, is obscuring the larger geopolitical issues at play. What’s more, it overlooks the fact that cyber intrusions are only the latest tool in a time-honored tradition of electoral meddling.

At issue in the current maelstrom is not the sanctity of the voting process itself, but rather the manipulation of voter sentiment by foreign powers. America’s voting method varies from state to state, or even county to county, and uses hundreds of systems to track millions of paper and digital ballots cast by different means at different times. By inadvertent virtue of this arcane system, U.S. ballot boxes are more resistant to direct hacking than perhaps any other voting platform in the world. But the American electorate is not tamper proof.

The U.S. electoral process, flawed though some claim it is, remains the backbone of the country’s political system. The system is designed to be resilient in its complexity, to avoid (or at least deter) the over-concentration of power, and to enable each to express his or her opinion. At the same time, it is also designed to ensure a level of continuity and stability. Trust in the political process, even when the results are dissatisfactory, is essential to preserving national unity and preempting extra-constitutional attempts to alter the political landscape. If the process is seen as faulty or manipulated, national cohesion and the perceived legitimacy of political power will suffer. Consequently, foreign manipulation of U.S. elections is a serious issue.

It is not unprecedented, however. Foreign powers have long used information campaigns, propaganda and political messaging to try to create doubt around one candidate or another and to shape the narrative ahead of elections. The Iranians may well have delayed the release of hostages in part to create an environment conducive to President Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980, hoping for a better deal. In 1996, Chinese fundraising scandals surrounded the re-election of President Bill Clinton (who later paved the way for China’s entry into the World Trade Organization) and Democratic congressional candidates. In fact, there may even be precedent for a president’s complicity in electoral manipulation; Richard Nixon’s campaign tried to influence the collapse of Vietnamese peace talks to facilitate his own election. Russian disinformation campaigns have also been around for years, from rumors of U.S. chemical and biological weapons during the Korean War to stories, allegedly planted by Moscow, of the FBI’s role in President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. One could even argue that European leaders, or at least media and interest groups, fetted Barack Obama during his first run for the presidency, highlighting his differences with his predecessor, with the clear intention of reshaping U.S. policy direction.

Furthermore, the United States is not always the victim of these tactics. Washington has frequently been accused of interfering, more and less overtly, in other countries’ elections, most recently after the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines made critical remarks about Rodrigo Duterte during his bid for office. From Radio Free Europe to the National Endowment for Democracy, America has an array of “soft power” tools at its disposal to shape not just foreign elections, but foreign political systems as well. Attempts to interfere in, or at least influence, elections are the norm in international politics rather than the exception. Though no one wants to admit that his or her victory may have been shaped in part by foreign powers, the world always seems to have its vote, particularly in U.S. elections.

In addition to trying to influence elections directly, foreign powers are always looking for internal information on candidates and parties that they can use to anticipate shifts in U.S. policy or adjust their language and behavior to shape policies. Compared with older techniques such as wiretapping, bugging, breaking into offices or devising ruses to ply information from insiders, cyber tools are far more expedient and less risky. They are also harder to trace, further adding to the confusion.

Despite the outcry over Russia’s hacking activities, we are not on the cusp of a new Cold War. In many ways, however, the world is far more complex than it was during the Cold War — though, on the plus side, the threat of thermonuclear war no longer looms quite as large. The United States and Russia are once again at odds with each other, divided along an array of geopolitical lines, and the former Soviet periphery is once again the scene of heavy competition between the two. But the ideological, political, economic and security dichotomy of the Cold War has since given way to a more diverse global landscape. Today, power is more diffuse, the lines between friend and foe are blurred, and economic integration often coexists with strategic competition. Each nation still has its own interests, but the global framework of “West” and “East” no longer provides an easy rubric.

There is little doubt that Russia, among other countries, tried to craft information campaigns with the intent to shape the U.S. presidential elections. Moscow may even be said to have actively interfered in the race if it did, in fact, selectively release emails. Still, it is hard to argue that its activities were enough to tip the balance, even in a close race. By politicizing the latest instance of foreign electoral meddling to the point where each side of the political spectrum is reduced to solely accusing the other of lying, we risk misplacing the focus on partisan instead of strategic issues.

Perhaps a more productive way to assess the accusations is to ask a few different questions: Is hacking significantly different from a disgruntled staff member’s leak, from loose talk at a bar, or from stolen or misplaced documents? Is a campaign or political party staff member’s email a national security issue or a matter of basic information management? Is U.S. government information better protected than private information? How quickly and effectively is the U.S. intelligence and counterintelligence community adapting to the changing information landscape? How does one balance privacy, freedom and security (a perennial question in the United States)?

And, maybe most important, are U.S. elections at significant risk of true foreign manipulation, or are they simply vulnerable to attempts at information-shaping? The latter we know how to deal with. The former is a fundamental threat that merits dispassionate investigation.

Categories: CIA, Congress, Democrats, Government Secrets, Law suit, Middle East, Obama, One Government, Saudi Arabia, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Parrot laughs like a super villain…


Categories: 2nd Amendment, adult radio | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ALERT — It’s Official. They are Coming for Our Guns…….


ALERT — It’s Official. They are Coming for Our Guns

(by Michael Connelly, Constitutional Attorney) — It is official. 2015 is the year that progressives will make an all-out push to quash the Second Amendment and disarm the American people. I have been reporting on my blog for the last several years about the ground work that has been laid including the escalating efforts to disarm our veterans, the issuing of illegal Executive Orders by Obama to limit gun rights, the movement to get individual states to pass and enforce unconstitutional limits on gun ownership, and the signing of the UN Small Arms treaty.

Now they are ready to make their move and I predict it will consist of a number of assaults on the American people. In fact, some of them are already in the works:

  1. The DOJ is floating the claim that the UN Small Arms Treaty is now the law of the land despite the fact that it has never been submitted to the U.S. Senate for ratification by a two thirds majority as required by the U. S. Constitution. This means that Obama plans to enforce the provisions of the treaty without ratification and despite the fact that in 1957 the Supreme Court ruled that no treaty, even if signed by the President and ratified by the Senate can override the protection of individual rights guaranteed to Americans in the Constitution.
  2. Obama’s enforcement of the UN treaty will include prohibiting the importation of firearms or replacement parts from other countries into the U.S, and providing a list to the UN of all American gun owners, importers, and exporters. In order to legally facilitate this, Congress would have to repeal the ban on funding of a national gun registration. However, I believe Obama plans on doing this by another illegal and unconstitutional Executive Order.
  3.  To continue and escalate the effort to disarm American veterans. The private medical records of veterans are being turned over illegally to the FBI so that they can be put on the NICS list of people who cannot legally purchase firearms because of mental illness. However, mental illness of these veterans is based on minor PTSD, suffering from minor depression, or even letting their spouses pay the family bills. There is no adjudication of mental illness to the point of being a danger to themselves or others as required by law.
  4. Veterans are also being required to tell the VA if they own firearms, how they feel about the federal government and/or the Obama administration and in some cases forced to submit to a strip search to determine if they have any “radical tattoos”. No definition of what constitutes a radical tattoo is provided.
  5. Obama has by an illegal and unconstitutional amendment to the Affordable Care Act overridden the prohibition on doctors to question their patients about gun ownership. Obama has called on pediatricians to question children about whether their parents have a gun in their home. Just recently I have also learned that seniors newly enrolling in Medicare are being required, when they go to a doctor for a routine physical, to take a test to determine if they are showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease. The questions include repeating a sequence of numbers and letters and other memory type questions and then there is the question about whether they own a firearm. Obviously, this information is then sent to the Federal government.
  6. Obama has also issued an Executive order that is being enforced by new HHS regulations that virtually set aside the HIPP law that protects the privacy of medical records. Under these new regulations, if your records contain anything indicating you have ever been depressed, had PTSD or taken certain medications your records will be turned over to the FBI and you will be put on the NICS list. This will apply to everyone, not just veterans.
  7. Obama also has the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms changing the definition of mental illness to provide that anyone can be declared mentally ill to the point of being a danger to themselves or others for any reason without an adjudication of any kind, and therefore can be prohibited from owning firearms. This is already happening in states like New York that have adopted similar laws and regulations. A citizen of New York has been declared mentally ill and had his guns seized because he was seeking treatment for insomnia.
  8. In the meantime, we have a Republican Senator casting the deciding vote to confirm Obama’s appointment of a Surgeon General who believes that gun ownership constitutes a health threat. We have the EPA moving to control the manufacture of ammunition because it claims that the use of lead in ammo produces a threat to the environment.
  9. The Department of Justice will continue its campaign to force banks to deny loans and even bank accounts to firearms dealers and will continue to harass them in other ways to force them out of business.

In other words, multiple resources of the Federal Government and some state governments are going to be used to take our firearms, but we can and must fight back. As the Executive Director of the United States Justice Foundation (www.usjf.net) I plan on taking the following actions to:

  1. Contact members of the U.S. Senate and urge them to refile the “Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act” that will stop the efforts of the VA to disarm America’s heroes. This law was previously defeated by Democrats in the Senate.
  2. Continue our representation of individual veterans in their fights to reverse declarations that they are incompetent to handle their own financial affairs and cannot own firearms. We have won some recent victories in this effort.
  3. File suits against the VA, FBI, DHS, and DOD to force them to comply with our Freedom of Information Act requests to gain documents about the attacks on veterans by these agencies.
  4.  Continue our involvement in lawsuits against states that are implementing and enforcing unconstitutional gun control laws.
  5. Offer our support to any members of Congress who file suit against Obama to stop his use of illegal Executive Orders to implement gun control and other unconstitutional actions.
  6. Continue to support the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) in their efforts to recruit law enforcement leaders around the country to pledge that they will not allow unconstitutional laws or regulations to be enforced in their jurisdictions.
Categories: 2nd Amendment, Politics, Strange News | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Do you still think Gun Registration is a good idea and will not be miss-used by the Government??????


http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/10/20/uk-gun-owners-now-subject-to-warrantless-home-searches/

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UFOs in West Virginia: 10 witnesses, 4 low-flying UFOs, 3 big as football fields…….


A UFO sighting in southern West Virginia has been reported that not only presents multiple witnesses of the objects in question but also the witnessing of multiple unidentified flying objects during the sighting. Open Minds reported Oct. 17 that ten men working at a coal plant in Marmet, West Virginia, saw the four flying objects as a collective. Three of the UFOs were massive, the size of football fields. They were all flying extremely low to the ground — and deathly silent.

Read more:…..http://www.examiner.com/article/ufos-over-west-virginia-10-men-4-low-flying-ufos-3-large-as-football-fields

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Famous sheriff: Feds now strategize for ‘raid’ on ranch…not over yet


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The executive director of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association says his sources inside the federal government warn that Washington’s weekend retreat in a dispute over grazing land in Nevada was only a move to distract attention and diffuse tensions, because a raid on the family’s ranch still is planned.

“I don’t think it would be possible” to launch a raid without violence, he told WND Monday. “I don’t think the Bundys would lie down and be taken.”

He cited the vow by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., that the confrontation was far from over, despite the weekend’s retreat by armed gunmen working for federal agencies.

Reid on Monday told KRNV-TV in Reno: “It’s not over. We can’t have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it. So it’s not over.

Cliven Bundy, who ranches in Clark County, and members of his extended family have grazed cattle on land there for more than a century. He stopped paying federal grazing fees years ago, contending his operation existed before the federal government was there.

But the standoff reached a boiling point one week ago as hundreds of federal agents and allies surrounded Bundy’s ranch and were faced with citizen resistance, both armed and unarmed.

The Associated Press said the U.S. Bureau of Land Management decided over the weekend to stop rounding up Bundy’s cattle and release animals agents already had seized.

BLM chief Neil Kornze said in a statement: “Based on information about conditions on the ground and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concerns about the safety of employees and members of the public.”

Mack, a longtime sheriff, told WND that Reid’s statements are beyond the pale.

“That kind of stupidity, where he puts federal regulations and policies of bureaucrats ahead of a family in his state that has done no wrong or committed a crime,” Mack said.

He charged that it is Reid who is destroying his own state’s ranching industry as well as the U.S. Constitution. The sheriff chided the senator for making statements about abiding by laws.

“Isn’t that amazing? The biggest crook in Washington,” Mack said.

On the issue of a raid, he said: “That’s what we have heard. It’s not confirmed. People we had on the inside told us the BLM still is considering raiding the Bundy ranch. We’re going to keep in touch with them, protect them, pray for them.”

Details that are uncovered will be posted on the CSPOA website, he said.

Mack said his organization is part of an effort to save America.

“Yes, America is in deep, deep trouble. The good news is that there is hope,” Mack said. “We do not have to stand by and watch while America is destroyed from within. If our counties, cities, and states and all local officers keep their oaths to protect us from tyranny, we can win this battle to take our country back.”

As reported, an estimated 200 armed officers of the BLM had been deployed to Bundy’s property in Bunkerville, Nev., 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, charging the rancher has been in violation of a law that aims to protect an endangered desert tortoise. The BLM also said Bundy owes more than $1 million in grazing fees to the federal government.

But Bundy found support from the governor and other prominent political leaders along with a host of protesters from other states, including fellow cattle ranchers and private armed militias.

A Montana militia member, Jim Lardy, told KLAS-TV in Las Vegas his group, Operation Mutual Aid, was prepared to “provide armed response.”

He said he was not afraid to shoot, if necessary.

“They have guns. We need guns to protect ourselves from the tyrannical government,” Lardy said.

Other militia members were joining him, he said: “There is many more coming.”

Nevada’s Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval said the federal government’s tactics allowed the tensions to nearly erupt in armed violence.

“No cow justifies the atmosphere of intimidation which currently exists nor the limitation of constitutional rights that are sacred to all Nevadans,” Sandoval said. “The BLM needs to reconsider its approach to this matter and act accordingly.”

Cliven Bundy’s son, Ammon Bundy, told WND earlier that federal authorities had not been merely relocating the cattle but were engaged in actions that killed some animals.

“They are flying helicopters over the herd to chase them,” Ammon Bundy said. “It was over 90 degrees here today, and the cattle can’t run very far in this heat before collapsing. This is especially true for the young calves. We have a lot of them being born because it is springtime, and they don’t have the strength to keep up with their mothers when they are running. The cattle then become overheated and die.”

Cliven Bundy is the last rancher operating in Clark County, where he’s been grazing his cattle on a 600,000-acre portion of land managed by the BLM called Gold Butte. His family, whose ties to the land go back to the 1880s, has been engaged in a dispute since 1993 with the Bureau of Land Management over long-established cattle-grazing rights.

After years of wrangling in the courts, BLM last week secured a federal court order declaring Bundy’s herd to be “trespass cattle” and began removing the animals.

Ammon Bundy said he was with a group of about 50 people “peacefully protesting the removal of the cattle” when “suddenly, 14 units with Rangers came off the mountain – 13 of them were armed ranger vehicles with two rangers per unit.”

He said the protesters went over to see what was in a dump truck, “because we were afraid this might have been a rendering vehicle, and we wanted to know what was in the back of the truck.”

The rangers got out of their vehicles and the conflict escalated, he said.

“Things got pretty ugly for awhile. They threw a 65-year-old woman on the ground, they tased me twice and they had dogs out there.”

 

 

Categories: 2nd Amendment, Strange News, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Your font is showing: Student comes up with plan to save U.S. big bucks….


Change type style on government documents and use less ink

Politicians on both sides of the aisle like to talk about cutting costs in Washington. But few, if any, have ever come up with an idea as simple as the one recently proposed by 14-year-old student Suvir Mirchandani.

Change the font.

Suvir’s story was recently reported on CNN.com. The Pittsburgh-area student began his quest by trying to think of ways to save his school district a few bucks. After examining different handouts provided by teachers in different classes, he noticed that the fonts varied and some seemed to require a lot more ink than others.

Suvir, whom we hope got extra credit for his impressive work, discovered that the most commonly used letters on handouts seemed to be r, a, e, o and t. Armed with that information, he set to work looking at how different fonts treated each letter, CNN reports. Suvir found that of the fonts he tested, Garamond (named after Claude Garamond, the original designer of the typeface) would require the least amount of ink and could save his school district as much as $21,000 per year.

Helvetica who?

But that isn’t all. Suvir reached out to the Journal of Emerging Investigators (JEI), “an open-access journal that publishes original research in the biological and physical sciences that is written by middle and high school students.”

Workers at the journal were reportedly impressed by Suvir’s work and asked him to apply his findings to the entire United States government. Now we really hope he got extra credit.

Claude Garamond (Wikimedia Commons)

After tracking down what the government is estimated to spend on ink per year ($467 million),  Suvir found that that Uncle Sam could save around $136 million per year by switching to Garamond exclusively. In addition, he found state governments that made the change could pull in $234 million in savings, according to CNN’s report.

So is the government going to make the switch? Gary Somerset, PR manager for the U.S. Government Printing Office, praised Suvir’s works as “remarkable,” according to CNN, but he also said the government is focusing its reduction efforts on getting things on the Web.

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The Failure of Obama Economics…..


You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.

You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.

You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.

You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.

You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence.

You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.”

              …………Abraham Lincoln

 

“Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him had better take a closer look at the American Indian.” – Henry Ford

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If Money is Property By Michael Bargo Jr.


The most important issue facing all Americans in their battle against the regulatory power of a growing central government is a very simple one: whether money is property.

In recent decades the federal government has grown at a much faster rate than the economy as a whole. And the power enabling it to affect — and often devastate — the finances of Americans is dependent upon the idea that local, state and Federal agencies can seize the wealth of Americans without any due process.

Due process may seem a distant and innocuous concept, yet its connection to the ability of government to regulate the lives of Americans is a crucial one, one that must be revisited soon if Americans are to live in an environment of free choice.

This is because the ability to levy fines — to take money away from citizens — is the lifeblood of most federal agencies. Here’s a simple comparison that illustrates the point: if a police officer gives you a ticket for a parking violation, the ticket has a court date on it. This court date allows you the opportunity to exercise your right to dispute the traffic violation. And the most important aspect of this is that you are automatically given this “due process,” the opportunity to challenge the parking violation, by the police department and local government. But an EPA official can fine a farmer $10,000 for spraying pesticide too close to a wetland, and there is no automatic hearing. Without due process there is no presumption of innocence.

The Constitution clearly states in Article V: “No person may… be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Due process means a hearing before a jJudge where the accused has the right to the presumption of innocence, legal notice of the hearing, discovery, and so on. No branch of government; local, state, or federal can take your property first and then allow you the opportunity for a hearing. The word “without” clearly means that a person may only be deprived of property after having been given due process safeguards.

If the Constitution were to state that no one could be deprived of liberty or money without due process, then the distinction would be more obvious. Right now bureaucracies confuse the issue and treat money as if it were not property.

That money does not seem to be property at this time has led to some conduct by government that the Constitution was written to prevent. In the state of Idaho a couple named the Sacketts obtained all the local permits necessary to build a house. Everything was properly done, according to the local building code. But the EPA noted that the couple raised the level of the site by adding dirt and stones, and fined the couple $75,000 per day until they complied with EPA guidelines. What made the Sackett case more disturbing is that the EPA refused to give the Sacketts a hearing. They had no way to challenge the EPA finding in court.

It is this loophole, the issue of “who decides” if due process takes place and when, that is the unconstitutional aspect. In the Sackett case the infamous Ninth Circuit Court ruled that the Clean Air Act precluded “pre-enforcement judicial review” and that such preclusion did not violate due process. The Fifth Amendment clearly does not allow any preclusions, and the Clean Air Act, or any other Congressional Act, cannot ban judicial review. All Congressional Acts must allow citizens the protection of the Constitution per the supremacy clause of the Constitution.

If I leave my wallet and pair of gloves on a bench seat of a restaurant, and somebody takes it, no one would argue that he could claim that the gloves and wallet were his property. And if the wallet is my property then all the contents of the wallet, including the money inside, is my property.

So it seems that the concept that money is property is well established in the understanding of property and possessions by the American people. But the real question is, is money “property” in the constitutional sense, and does it deserve Fifth Amendment protection?

If money is property, then the EPA cannot take money without due process. This would almost put the EPA out of business since many of their fines are outrageous. And if the EPA’s fines had to be approved by juries, very few juries composed of homeowners or farmers would allow Americans to suffer the EPA’s bureaucratic abuse.

Right now there is a long established and intimate connection between property and money. After all, County tax assessors use money as the measure of the value of real property. Nothing other than money is used as the basis of a valuation of property.

In fact, there are only two measures that define property: its physical location and money. Now the discussion starts to close in on an interesting distinction: the EPA cannot seize the physical location of the property without due process, yet it can seize the money of the owners and that does not always need due process.

If the location of a piece of real estate and its monetary value are so intimately connected then it would seem that money is property, and that fines cannot be levied by the EPA, IRS, or any other agency without a court hearing. Yet every day in every part of the U.S. local officials issue building code violation fines, etc. without court hearings. This is particularly true of Federal officials, who do not derive their authority locally but from a distant, national authority.

One may argue that fines are acceptable, since taxes, which are also money, are levied without due process. But taxation is a different administrative issue: taxes are applied equally to everyone. A fine is applied to only one specific person or corporation at a time.

And taxes cannot be written to target individual persons or individuals. They must be generally applied. A new hamburger franchise, for example, cannot be taxed differently than existing hamburger franchises. No unit of government can tax one person or entity uniquely.

If this entire discussion seems rather tedious, it is only because government, and in particular the federal government, has entangled its administrative power with Constitutional corruption to enable themselves to dominate America’s social and political fabric.

The tendency of governments to seize property without court hearings is one of the three abuses of individual rights that motivated the Fifth Amendment. As government grows and encroaches upon individual rights there is no doubt that while it may not yet be able to seize property without due process, every day more regulations are written by the Obama Administration that allow it to seize money without due process.

Legal foundations should take it upon themselves to challenge federal administrative guidelines and bring this issue to the Supreme Court. If the time ever comes when money is defined as property by the Supreme Court bureaucratic powers will be greatly weakened. The government’s ability to seize the wealth of Americans and transfer it to themselves will be severely curtailed.

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History of Today from 150 years ago……On the Duty of Civil Disobedience….1860


Henry David Thoreau
1849
[1849, original title: Resistance to Civil Goverment]

I heartily accept the motto, “That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe–“That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. The objections which have been brought against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve to prevail, may also at last be brought against a standing government. The standing army is only an arm of the standing government. The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Witness the present Mexican war, the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool; for in the outset, the people would not have consented to this measure.

This American government–what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instant losing some of its integrity? It has not the vitality and force of a single living man; for a single man can bend it to his will. It is a sort of wooden gun to the people themselves. But it is not the less necessary for this; for the people must have some complicated machinery or other, and hear its din, to satisfy that idea of government which they have. Governments show thus how successfully men can be imposed upon, even impose on themselves, for their own advantage. It is excellent, we must all allow. Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way. It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not educate. The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way. For government is an expedient, by which men would fain succeed in letting one another alone; and, as has been said, when it is most expedient, the governed are most let alone by it. Trade and commerce, if they were not made of india-rubber, would never manage to bounce over obstacles which legislators are continually putting in their way; and if one were to judge these men wholly by the effects of their actions and not partly by their intentions, they would deserve to be classed and punished with those mischievious persons who put obstructions on the railroads.

But, to speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at one no government, but at once a better government. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.

After all, the practical reason why, when the power is once in the hands of the people, a majority are permitted, and for a long period continue, to rule is not because they are most likely to be in the right, nor because this seems fairest to the minority, but because they are physically the strongest. But a government in which the majority rule in all cases can not be based on justice, even as far as men understand it. Can there not be a government in which the majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience?–in which majorities decide only those questions to which the rule of expediency is applicable? Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? WHy has every man a conscience then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation on conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience. Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents on injustice. A common and natural result of an undue respect for the law is, that you may see a file of soldiers, colonel, captain, corporal, privates, powder-monkeys, and all, marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills, ay, against their common sense and consciences, which makes it very steep marching indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart. They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which they are concerned; they are all peaceably inclined. Now, what are they? Men at all? or small movable forts and magazines, at the service of some unscrupulous man in power? Visit the Navy Yard, and behold a marine, such a man as an American government can make, or such as it can make a man with its black arts–a mere shadow and reminiscence of humanity, a man laid out alive and standing, and already, as one may say, buried under arms with funeral accompaniment, though it may be,

“Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note, As his corse to the rampart we hurried; Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot O’er the grave where out hero was buried.”

The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies. They are the standing army, and the militia, jailers, constables, posse comitatus, etc. In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgement or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well. Such command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt. They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs. Yet such as these even are commonly esteemed good citizens. Others–as most legislators, politicians, lawyers, ministers, and office-holders–serve the state chiefly with their heads; and, as the rarely make any moral distinctions, they are as likely to serve the devil, without intending it, as God. A very few–as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers in the great sense, and men–serve the state with their consciences also, and so necessarily resist it for the most part; and they are commonly treated as enemies by it. A wise man will only be useful as a man, and will not submit to be “clay,” and “stop a hole to keep the wind away,” but leave that office to his dust at least:

“I am too high born to be propertied, To be a second at control, Or useful serving-man and instrument To any sovereign state throughout the world.”

He who gives himself entirely to his fellow men appears to them useless and selfish; but he who gives himself partially to them in pronounced a benefactor and philanthropist.

How does it become a man to behave toward the American government today? I answer, that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it. I cannot for an instant recognize that political organization as my government which is the slave’s government also.

All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable. But almost all say that such is not the case now. But such was the case, they think, in the Revolution of ’75. If one were to tell me that this was a bad government because it taxed certain foreign commodities brought to its ports, it is most probable that I should not make an ado about it, for I can do without them. All machines have their friction; and possibly this does enough good to counter-balance the evil. At any rate, it is a great evil to make a stir about it. But when the friction comes to have its machine, and oppression and robbery are organized, I say, let us not have such a machine any longer. In other words, when a sixth of the population of a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are slaves, and a whole country is unjustly overrun and conquered by a foreign army, and subjected to military law, I think that it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize. What makes this duty the more urgent is that fact that the country so overrun is not our own, but ours is the invading army.

Paley, a common authority with many on moral questions, in his chapter on the “Duty of Submission to Civil Government,” resolves all civil obligation into expediency; and he proceeds to say that “so long as the interest of the whole society requires it, that it, so long as the established government cannot be resisted or changed without public inconveniencey, it is the will of God. . .that the established government be obeyed–and no longer. This principle being admitted, the justice of every particular case of resistance is reduced to a computation of the quantity of the danger and grievance on the one side, and of the probability and expense of redressing it on the other.” Of this, he says, every man shall judge for himself. But Paley appears never to have contemplated those cases to which the rule of expediency does not apply, in which a people, as well and an individual, must do justice, cost what it may. If I have unjustly wrested a plank from a drowning man, I must restore it to him though I drown myself. This, according to Paley, would be inconvenient. But he that would save his life, in such a case, shall lose it. This people must cease to hold slaves, and to make war on Mexico, though it cost them their existence as a people.

In their practice, nations agree with Paley; but does anyone think that Massachusetts does exactly what is right at the present crisis?

“A drab of stat, a cloth-o’-silver slut, To have her train borne up, and her soul trail in the dirt.”

Practically speaking, the opponents to a reform in Massachusetts are not a hundred thousand politicians at the South, but a hundred thousand merchants and farmers here, who are more interested in commerce and agriculture than they are in humanity, and are not prepared to do justice to the slave and to Mexico, cost what it may. I quarrel not with far-off foes, but with those who, neat at home, co-operate with, and do the bidding of, those far away, and without whom the latter would be harmless. We are accustomed to say, that the mass of men are unprepared; but improvement is slow, because the few are not as materially wiser or better than the many. It is not so important that many should be good as you, as that there be some absolute goodness somewhere; for that will leaven the whole lump. There are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery and to the war, who yet in effect do nothing to put an end to them; who, esteeming themselves children of Washington and Franklin, sit down with their hands in their pockets, and say that they know not what to do, and do nothing; who even postpone the question of freedom to the question of free trade, and quietly read the prices-current along with the latest advices from Mexico, after dinner, and, it may be, fall asleep over them both. What is the price-current of an honest man and patriot today? They hesitate, and they regret, and sometimes they petition; but they do nothing in earnest and with effect. They will wait, well disposed, for other to remedy the evil, that they may no longer have it to regret. At most, they give up only a cheap vote, and a feeble countenance and Godspeed, to the right, as it goes by them. There are nine hundred and ninety-nine patrons of virtue to one virtuous man. But it is easier to deal with the real possessor of a thing than with the temporary guardian of it.

All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions; and betting naturally accompanies it. The character of the voters is not staked. I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority. Its obligation, therefore, never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men. When the majority shall at length vote for the abolition of slavery, it will be because they are indifferent to slavery, or because there is but little slavery left to be abolished by their vote. They will then be the only slaves. Only his vote can hasten the abolition of slavery who asserts his own freedom by his vote.

I hear of a convention to be held at Baltimore, or elsewhere, for the selection of a candidate for thePresidency, made up chiefly of editors, and men who are politicians by profession; but I think, what is it to any independent, intelligent, and respectable man what decision they may come to? Shall we not have the advantage of this wisdom and honesty, nevertheless? Can we not count upon some independent votes? Are there not many individuals in the country who do not attend conventions? But no: I find that the respectable man, so called, has immediately drifted from his position, and despairs of his country, when his country has more reasons to despair of him. He forthwith adopts one of the candidates thus selected as the only available one, thus proving that he is himself available for any purposes of the demagogue. His vote is of no more worth than that of any unprincipled foreigner or hireling native, who may have been bought. O for a man who is a man, and, and my neighbor says, has a bone is his back which you cannot pass your hand through! Our statistics are at fault: the population has been returned too large. How many men are there to a square thousand miles in the country? Hardly one. Does not America offer any inducement for men to settle here? The American has dwindled into an Odd Fellow–one who may be known by the development of his organ of gregariousness, and a manifest lack of intellect and cheerful self-reliance; whose first and chief concern, on coming into the world, is to see that the almshouses are in good repair; and, before yet he has lawfully donned the virile garb, to collect a fund to the support of the widows and orphans that may be; who, in short, ventures to live only by the aid of the Mutual Insurance company, which has promised to bury him decently.

It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even to most enormous, wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support. If I devote myself to other pursuits and contemplations, I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue them sitting upon another man’s shoulders. I must get off him first, that he may pursue his contemplations too. See what gross inconsistency is tolerated. I have heard some of my townsmen say, “I should like to have them order me out to help put down an insurrection of the slaves, or to march to Mexico–see if I would go”; and yet these very men have each, directly by their allegiance, and so indirectly, at least, by their money, furnished a substitute. The soldier is applauded who refuses to serve in an unjust war by those who do not refuse to sustain the unjust government which makes the war; is applauded by those whose own act and authority he disregards and sets at naught; as if the state were penitent to that degree that it hired one to scourge it while it sinned, but not to that degree that it left off sinning for a moment. Thus, under the name of Order and Civil Government, we are all made at last to pay homage to and support our own meanness. After the first blush of sin comes its indifference; and from immoral it becomes, as it were, unmoral, and not quite unnecessary to that life which we have made.

The broadest and most prevalent error requires the most disinterested virtue to sustain it. The slight reproach to which the virtue of patriotism is commonly liable, the noble are most likely to incur. Those who, while they disapprove of the character and measures of a government, yield to it their allegiance and support are undoubtedly its most conscientious supporters, and so frequently the most serious obstacles to reform. Some are petitioning the State to dissolve the Union, to disregard the requisitions of the President. Why do they not dissolve it themselves–the union between themselves and the State–and refuse to pay their quota into its treasury? Do not they stand in same relation to the State that the State does to the Union? And have not the same reasons prevented the State from resisting the Union which have prevented them from resisting the State?

How can a man be satisfied to entertain and opinion merely, and enjoy it? Is there any enjoyment in it, if his opinion is that he is aggrieved? If you are cheated out of a single dollar by your neighbor, you do not rest satisfied with knowing you are cheated, or with saying that you are cheated, or even with petitioning him to pay you your due; but you take effectual steps at once to obtain the full amount, and see to it that you are never cheated again. Action from principle, the perception and the performance of right, changes things and relations; it is essentially revolutionary, and does not consist wholly with anything which was. It not only divided States and churches, it divides families; ay, it divides the individual, separating the diabolical in him from the divine.

Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men, generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority toalter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to put out its faults, and do better than it would have them? Why does it always crucify Christ and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels?

One would think, that a deliberate and practical denial of its authority was the only offense never contemplated by its government; else, why has it not assigned its definite, its suitable and proportionate, penalty? If a man who has no property refuses but once to earn nine shillings for the State, he is put in prison for a period unlimited by any law that I know, and determined only by the discretion of those who put him there; but if he should steal ninety times nine shillings from the State, he is soon permitted to go at large again.

If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth–certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.

As for adopting the ways of the State has provided for remedying the evil, I know not of such ways. They take too much time, and a man’s life will be gone. I have other affairs to attend to. I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad. A man has not everything to do, but something; and because he cannot do everything, it is not necessary that he should be petitioning the Governor or the Legislature any more than it is theirs to petition me; and if they should not hear my petition, what should I do then? But in this case the State has provided no way: its very Constitution is the evil. This may seem to be harsh and stubborn and unconcilliatory; but it is to treat with the utmost kindness and consideration the only spirit that can appreciate or deserves it. So is all change for the better, like birth and death, which convulse the body.

I do not hesitate to say, that those who call themselves Abolitionists should at once effectually withdraw their support, both in person and property, from the government of Massachusetts, and not wait till they constitute a majority of one, before they suffer the right to prevail through them. I think that it is enough if they have God on their side, without waiting for that other one. Moreover, any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one already.

I meet this American government, or its representative, the State government, directly, and face to face, once a year–no more–in the person of its tax-gatherer; this is the only mode in which a man situated as I am necessarily meets it; and it then says distinctly, Recognize me; and the simplest, the most effectual, and, in the present posture of affairs, the indispensablest mode of treating with it on this head, of expressing your little satisfaction with and love for it, is to deny it then. My civil neighbor, the tax-gatherer, is the very man I have to deal with–for it is, after all, with men and not with parchment that I quarrel–and he has voluntarily chosen to be an agent of the government. How shall he ever know well that he is and does as an officer of the government, or as a man, until he is obliged to consider whether he will treat me, his neighbor, for whom he has respect, as a neighbor and well-disposed man, or as a maniac and disturber of the peace, and see if he can get over this obstruction to his neighborlines without a ruder and more impetuous thought or speech corresponding with his action. I know this well, that if one thousand, if one hundred, if ten men whom I could name–if ten honest men only–ay, if one HONEST man, in this State of Massachusetts, ceasing to hold slaves, were actually to withdraw from this co-partnership, and be locked up in the county jail therefor, it would be the abolition of slavery in America. For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever. But we love better to talk about it: that we say is our mission. Reform keeps many scores of newspapers in its service, but not one man. If my esteemed neighbor, the State’s ambassador, who will devote his days to the settlement of the question of human rights in the Council Chamber, instead of being threatened with the prisons of Carolina, were to sit down the prisoner of Massachusetts, that State which is so anxious to foist the sin of slavery upon her sister–though at present she can discover only an act of inhospitality to be the ground of a quarrel with her–the Legislature would not wholly waive the subject of the following winter.

Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. The proper place today, the only place which Massachusetts has provided for her freer and less despondent spirits, is in her prisons, to be put out and locked out of the State by her own act, as they have already put themselves out by their principles. It is there that the fugitive slave, and the Mexican prisoner on parole, and the Indian come to plead the wrongs of his race should find them; on that separate but more free and honorable ground, where the State places those who are not with her, but against her–the only house in a slave State in which a free man can abide with honor. If any think that their influence would be lost there, and their voices no longer afflict the ear of the State, that they would not be as an enemy within its walls, they do not know by how much truth is stronger than error, nor how much more eloquently and effectively he can combat injustice who has experienced a little in his own person. Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence. A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight. If the alternative is to keep all just men in prison, or give up war and slavery, the State will not hesitate which to choose. If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible. If the tax-gatherer, or any other public officer, asks me, as one has done, “But what shall I do?” my answer is, “If you really wish to do anything, resign your office.” When the subject has refused allegiance, and the officer has resigned from office, then the revolution is accomplished. But even suppose blood shed when the conscience is wounded? Through this wound a man’s real manhood and immortality flow out, and he bleeds to an everlasting death. I see this blood flowing now.

I have contemplated the imprisonment of the offender, rather than the seizure of his goods–though both will serve the same purpose–because they who assert the purest right, and consequently are most dangerous to a corrupt State, commonly have not spent much time in accumulating property. To such the State renders comparatively small service, and a slight tax is wont to appear exorbitant, particularly if they are obliged to earn it by special labor with their hands. If there were one who lived wholly without the use of money, the State itself would hesitate to demand it of him. But the rich man–not to make any invidious comparison–is always sold to the institution which makes him rich. Absolutely speaking, the more money, the less virtue; for money comes between a man and his objects, and obtains them for him; it was certainly no great virtue to obtain it. It puts to rest many questions which he would otherwise be taxed to answer; while the only new question which it puts is the hard but superfluous one, how to spend it. Thus his moral ground is taken from under his feet. The opportunities of living are diminished in proportion as that are called the “means” are increased. The best thing a man can do for his culture when he is rich is to endeavor to carry out those schemes which he entertained when he was poor. Christ answered the Herodians according to their condition. “Show me the tribute-money,” said he–and one took a penny out of his pocket–if you use money which has the image of Caesar on it, and which he has made current and valuable, that is, if you are men of the State, and gladly enjoy the advantages of Caesar’s government, then pay him back some of his own when he demands it. “Render therefore to Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God those things which are God’s”–leaving them no wiser than before as to which was which; for they did not wish to know.

When I converse with the freest of my neighbors, I perceive that, whatever they may say about the magnitude and seriousness of the question, and their regard for the public tranquillity, the long and the short of the matter is, that they cannot spare the protection of the existing government, and they dread the consequences to their property and families of disobedience to it. For my own part, I should not like to think that I ever rely on the protection of the State. But, if I deny the authority of the State when it presents its tax bill, it will soon take and waste all my property, and so harass me and my children without end. This is hard. This makes it impossible for a man to live honestly, and at the same time comfortably, in outward respects. It will not be worth the while to accumulate property; that would be sure to go again. You must hire or squat somewhere, and raise but a small crop, and eat that soon. You must live within yourself, and depend upon yourself always tucked up and ready for a start, and not have many affairs. A man may grow rich in Turkey even, if he will be in all respects a good subject of the Turkish government. Confucius said: “If a state is governed by the principles of reason, poverty and misery are subjects of shame; if a state is not governed by the principles of reason, riches and honors are subjects of shame.” No: until I want the protection of Massachusetts to be extended to me in some distant Southern port, where my liberty is endangered, or until I am bent solely on building up an estate at home by peaceful enterprise, I can afford to refuse allegiance to Massachusetts, and her right to my property and life. It costs me less in every sense to incur the penalty of disobedience to the State than it would to obey. I should feel as if I were worth less in that case.

Some years ago, the State met me in behalf of the Church, and commanded me to pay a certain sum toward the support of a clergyman whose preaching my father attended, but never I myself. “Pay,” it said, “or be locked up in the jail.” I declined to pay. But, unfortunately, another man saw fit to pay it. I did not see why the schoolmaster should be taxed to support the priest, and not the priest the schoolmaster; for I was not the State’s schoolmaster, but I supported myself by voluntary subscription. I did not see why the lyceum should not present its tax bill, and have the State to back its demand, as well as the Church. However, as the request of the selectmen, I condescended to make some such statement as this in writing: “Know all men by these presents, that I, Henry Thoreau, do not wish to be regarded as a member of any society which I have not joined.” This I gave to the town clerk; and he has it. The State, having thus learned that I did not wish to be regarded as a member of that church, has never made a like demand on me since; though it said that it must adhere to its original presumption that time. If I had known how to name them, I should then have signed off in detail from all the societies which I never signed on to; but I did not know where to find such a complete list.

I have paid no poll tax for six years. I was put into a jail once on this account, for one night; and, as I stood considering the walls of solid stone, two or three feet thick, the door of wood and iron, a foot thick, and the iron grating which strained the light, I could not help being struck with the foolishness of that institution which treated my as if I were mere flesh and blood and bones, to be locked up. I wondered that it should have concluded at length that this was the best use it could put me to, and had never thought to avail itself of my services in some way. I saw that, if there was a wall of stone between me and my townsmen, there was a still more difficult one to climb or break through before they could get to be as free as I was. I did nor for a moment feel confined, and the walls seemed a great waste of stone and mortar. I felt as if I alone of all my townsmen had paid my tax. They plainly did not know how to treat me, but behaved like persons who are underbred. In every threat and in every compliment there was a blunder; for they thought that my chief desire was to stand the other side of that stone wall. I could not but smile to see how industriously they locked the door on my meditations, which followed them out again without let or hindrance, and they were really all that was dangerous. As they could not reach me, they had resolved to punish my body; just as boys, if they cannot come at some person against whom they have a spite, will abuse his dog. I saw that the State was half-witted, that it was timid as a lone woman with her silver spoons, and that it did not know its friends from its foes, and I lost all my remaining respect for it, and pitied it.

Thus the state never intentionally confronts a man’s sense, intellectual or moral, but only his body, his senses. It is not armed with superior with or honesty, but with superior physical strength. I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest. What force has a multitude? They only can force me who obey a higher law than I. They force me to become like themselves. I do not hear of men being forced to live this way or that by masses of men. What sort of life were that to live? When I meet a government which says to me, “Your money our your life,” why should I be in haste to give it my money? It may be in a great strait, and not know what to do: I cannot help that. It must help itself; do as I do. It is not worth the while to snivel about it. I am not responsible for the successful working of the machinery of society. I am not the son of the engineer. I perceive that, when an acorn and a chestnut fall side by side, the one does not remain inert to make way for the other, but both obey their own laws, and spring and grow and flourish as best they can, till one, perchance, overshadows and destroys the other. If a plant cannot live according to nature, it dies; and so a man.

The night in prison was novel and interesting enough. The prisoners in their shirtsleeves were enjoying a chat and the evening air in the doorway, when I entered. But the jailer said, “Come, boys, it is time to lock up”; and so they dispersed, and I heard the sound of their steps returning into the hollow apartments. My room-mate was introduced to me by the jailer as “a first-rate fellow and clever man.” When the door was locked, he showed me where to hang my hat, and how he managed matters there. The rooms were whitewashed once a month; and this one, at least, was the whitest, most simply furnished, and probably neatest apartment in town. He naturally wanted to know where I came from, and what brought me there; and, when I had told him, I asked him in my turn how he came there, presuming him to be an honest an, of course; and as the world goes, I believe he was. “Why,” said he, “they accuse me of burning a barn; but I never did it.” As near as I could discover, he had probably gone to bed in a barn when drunk, and smoked his pipe there; and so a barn was burnt. He had the reputation of being a clever man, had been there some three months waiting for his trial to come on, and would have to wait as much longer; but he was quite domesticated and contented, since he got his board for nothing, and thought that he was well treated.

He occupied one window, and I the other; and I saw that if one stayed there long, his principal business would be to look out the window. I had soon read all the tracts that were left there, and examined where former prisoners had broken out, and where a grate had been sawed off, and heardthe history of the various occupants of that room; for I found that even there there was a history and a gossip which never circulated beyond the walls of the jail. Probably this is the only house in the town where verses are composed, which are afterward printed in a circular form, but not published. I was shown quite a long list of young men who had been detected in an attempt to escape, who avenged themselves by singing them.

I pumped my fellow-prisoner as dry as I could, for fear I should never see him again; but at length he showed me which was my bed, and left me to blow out the lamp.

It was like travelling into a far country, such as I had never expected to behold, to lie there for one night. It seemed to me that I never had heard the town clock strike before, not the evening sounds of the village; for we slept with the windows open, which were inside the grating. It was to see my native village in the light of the Middle Ages, and our Concord was turned into a Rhine stream, and visions of knights and castles passed before me. They were the voices of old burghers that I heard in the streets. I was an involuntary spectator and auditor of whatever was done and said in the kitchen of the adjacent village inn–a wholly new and rare experience to me. It was a closer view of my native town. I was fairly inside of it. I never had seen its institutions before. This is one of its peculiar institutions; for it is a shire town. I began to comprehend what its inhabitants were about.

In the morning, our breakfasts were put through the hole in the door, in small oblong-square tin pans, made to fit, and holding a pint of chocolate, with brown bread, and an iron spoon. When they called for the vessels again, I was green enough to return what bread I had left, but my comrade seized it, and said that I should lay that up for lunch or dinner. Soon after he was let out to work at haying in a neighboring field, whither he went every day, and would not be back till noon; so he bade me good day, saying that he doubted if he should see me again.

When I came out of prison–for some one interfered, and paid that tax–I did not perceive that great changes had taken place on the common, such as he observed who went in a youth and emerged a gray-headed man; and yet a change had come to my eyes come over the scene–the town, and State, and country, greater than any that mere time could effect. I saw yet more distinctly the State in which I lived. I saw to what extent the people among whom I lived could betrusted as good neighbors and friends; that their friendship was for summer weather only; that they did not greatly propose to do right; that they were a distinct race from me by their prejudices and superstitions, as the Chinamen and Malays are that in their sacrifices to humanity they ran no risks, not even to their property; that after all they were not so noble but they treated the thief as he had treated them, and hoped, by a certain outward observance and a few prayers, and by walking in a particular straight through useless path from time to time, to save their souls. This may be to judge my neighbors harshly; for I believe that many of them are not aware that they have such an institution as the jail in their village.

It was formerly the custom in our village, when a poor debtor came out of jail, for his acquaintances to salute him, looking through their fingers, which were crossed to represent the jail window, “How do ye do?” My neighbors did not this salute me, but first looked at me, and then at one another, as if I had returned from a long journey. I was put into jail as I was going to the shoemaker’s to get a shoe which was mender. When I was let out the next morning, I proceeded to finish my errand, and, having put on my mended show, joined a huckleberry party, who were impatient to put themselves under my conduct; and in half an hour–for the horse was soon tackled–was in the midst of a huckleberry field, on one of our highest hills, two miles off, and then the State was nowhere to be seen.

This is the whole history of “My Prisons.”

I have never declined paying the highway tax, because I am as desirous of being a good neighbor as I am of being a bad subject; and as for supporting schools, I am doing my part to educate my fellow countrymen now. It is for no particular item in the tax bill that I refuse to pay it. I simply wish to refuse allegiance to the State, to withdraw and stand aloof from it effectually. I do not care to trace the course of my dollar, if I could, till it buys a man a musket to shoot one with–the dollar is innocent–but I am concerned to trace the effects of my allegiance. In fact, I quietly declare war with the State, after my fashion, though I will still make use and get what advantages of her I can, as is usual in such cases.

If others pay the tax which is demanded of me, from a sympathy with the State, they do but what they have already done in their own case, or rather they abet injustice to a greater extent than the State requires. If they pay the tax from a mistaken interest in the individual taxed, to savehis property, or prevent his going to jail, it is because they have not considered wisely how far they let their private feelings interfere with the public good.

This, then is my position at present. But one cannot be too much on his guard in such a case, lest his actions be biased by obstinacy or an undue regard for the opinions of men. Let him see that he does only what belongs to himself and to the hour.

I think sometimes, Why, this people mean well, they are only ignorant; they would do better if they knew how: why give your neighbors this pain to treat you as they are not inclined to? But I think again, This is no reason why I should do as they do, or permit others to suffer much greater pain of a different kind. Again, I sometimes say to myself, When many millions of men, without heat, without ill will, without personal feelings of any kind, demand of you a few shillings only, without the possibility, such is their constitution, of retracting or altering their present demand, and without the possibility, on your side, of appeal to any other millions, why expose yourself to this overwhelming brute force? You do not resist cold and hunger, the winds and the waves, thus obstinately; you quietly submit to a thousand similar necessities. You do not put your head into the fire. But just in proportion as I regard this as not wholly a brute force, but partly a human force, and consider that I have relations to those millions as to so many millions of men, and not of mere brute or inanimate things, I see that appeal is possible, first and instantaneously, from them to the Maker of them, and, secondly, from them to themselves. But if I put my head deliberately into the fire, there is no appeal to fire or to the Maker for fire, and I have only myself to blame. If I could convince myself that I have any right to be satisfied with men as they are, and to treat them accordingly, and not according, in some respects, to my requisitions and expectations of what they and I ought to be, then, like a good Mussulman and fatalist, I should endeavor to be satisfied with things as they are, and say it is the will of God. And, above all, there is this difference between resisting this and a purely brute or natural force, that I can resist this with some effect; but I cannot expect, like Orpheus, to change the nature of the rocks and trees and beasts.

I do not wish to quarrel with any man or nation. I do not wish to split hairs, to make fine distinctions, or set myself up as better than my neighbors. I seek rather, I may say, even an excuse for conforming to the laws of the land. I am but too ready to conform to them. Indeed, I have reason to suspect myself on this head; and each year, as the tax-gatherer comes round, I find myself disposed to review the acts and position of the general and State governments, and the spirit of the people to discover a pretext for conformity.

“We must affect our country as our parents, And if at any time we alienate Out love or industry from doing it honor, We must respect effects and teach the soul Matter of conscience and religion,And not desire of rule or benefit.”

I believe that the State will soon be able to take all my work of this sort out of my hands, and then I shall be no better patriot than my fellow-countrymen. Seen from a lower point of view, the Constitution, with all its faults, is very good; the law and the courts are very respectable; even this State and this American government are, in many respects, very admirable, and rare things, to be thankful for, such as a great many have described them; seen from a higher still, and the highest, who shall say what they are, or that they are worth looking at or thinking of at all?

However, the government does not concern me much, and I shall bestow the fewest possible thoughts on it. It is not many moments that I live under a government, even in this world. If a man is thought-free, fancy-free, imagination-free, that which is not never for a long time appearing to be to him, unwise rulers or reformers cannot fatally interrupt him.

I know that most men think differently from myself; but those whose lives are by profession devoted to the study of these or kindred subjects content me as little as any. Statesmen and legislators, standing so completely within the institution, never distinctly and nakedly behold it. They speak of moving society, but have no resting-place without it. They may be men of a certain experience and discrimination, and have no doubt invented ingenious and even useful systems, for which we sincerely thank them; but all their wit and usefulness lie within certain not very wide limits. They are wont to forget that the world is not governed by policy and expediency. Webster never goes behind government, and so cannot speak with authority about it. His words are wisdom to those legislators who contemplate no essential reform in the existing government; but for thinkers, and those who legislate for all tim, he never once glances at the subject. I know of those whose serene and wise speculations on this theme would soon reveal the limits of his mind’s range and hospitality. Yet, compared with the cheap professions of most reformers, and the still cheaper wisdom an eloquence of politicians in general, his are almost the only sensible and valuable words, and we thank Heaven for him. Comparatively, he is always strong, original, and, above all, practical. Still, his quality is not wisdom, but prudence. The lawyer’s truth is not Truth, but consistency or a consistent expediency. Truth is always in harmony with herself, and is not concerned chiefly to reveal the justice that may consist with wrong-doing. He well deserves to be called, as he has been called, the Defender of the Constitution. There are really no blows to be given him but defensive ones. He is not a leader, but a follower. His leaders are the men of ’87. “I have never made an effort,” he says, “and never propose to make an effort; I have never countenanced an effort, and never mean to countenance an effort, to disturb the arrangement as originally made, by which various States came into the Union.” Still thinking of the sanction which the Constitution gives to slavery, he says, “Because it was part of the original compact–let it stand.” Notwithstanding his special acuteness and ability, he is unable to take a fact out of its merely political relations, and behold it as it lies absolutely to be disposed of by the intellect–what, for instance, it behooves a man to do here in American today with regard to slavery–but ventures, or is driven, to make some such desperate answer to the following, while professing to speak absolutely, and as a private man–from which what new and singular of social duties might be inferred? “The manner,” says he, “in which the governments of the States where slavery exists are to regulate it is for their own consideration, under the responsibility to their constituents, to the general laws of propriety, humanity, and justice, and to God. Associations formed elsewhere, springing from a feeling of humanity, or any other cause, have nothing whatever to do with it. They have never received any encouragement from me and they never will. [These extracts have been inserted since the lecture was read -HDT]

They who know of no purer sources of truth, who have traced up its stream no higher, stand, and wisely stand, by the Bible and the Constitution, and drink at it there with reverence and humanity; but they who behold where it comes trickling into this lake or that pool, gird up their loins once more, and continue their pilgrimage toward its fountainhead.

No man with a genius for legislation has appeared in America. They are rare in the history of the world. There are orators, politicians, and eloquent men, by the thousand; but the speaker has not yet opened his mouth to speak who is capable of settling the much-vexed questions of the day. We love eloquence for its own sake, and not for any truth which t may utter, or any heroism it may inspire. Our legislators have not yet learned the comparative value of free trade and of freed, of union, and of rectitude, to a nation. They have no genius or talent for comparatively humble questions of taxation and finance, commerce and manufactures and agriculture. If we were left solely to the wordy wit of legislators in Congress for our guidance, uncorrected by the seasonable experience and the effectual complaints of the people, America would not long retain her rank among the nations. For eighteen hundred years, though perchance I have no right to say it, the New Testament has been written; yet where is the legislator who has wisdom and practical talent enough to avail himself of the light which it sheds on the science of legislation.

The authority of government, even such as I am willing to submit to–for I will cheerfully obey those who know and can do better than I, and in many things even those who neither know nor can do so well–is still an impure one: to be strictly just, it must have the sanction and consent of the governed. It can have no pure right over my person and property but what I concede to it. The progress from an absolute to a limited monarchy, from a limited monarchy to a democracy, is a progress toward a true respect for the individual. Even the Chinese philosopher was wise enough to regard the individual as the basis of the empire. Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government? Is it not possible to take a step further towards recognizing and organizing the rights of man? There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly. I please myself with imagining a State at last which can afford to be just to all men, and to treat the individual with respect as a neighbor; which even would not think it inconsistent with its own repose if a few were to live aloof from it, not meddling with it, nor embraced by it, who fulfilled all the duties of neighbors and fellow men. A State which bore this kind of fruit, and suffered it to drop off as fast as it ripened, would prepare the way for a still more perfect and glorious State, which I have also imagined, but not yet anywhere seen.

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