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Lysander Spooner
1808 - 1887

American lawyer, philosopher, abolitionist, libertarian, author of No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority


Click here for essays by Lysander Spooner
A man is none the less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years.

1870 - from No Treason
The principle that the majority have a right to rule the minority, practically resolves all government into a mere contest between two bodies of men, as to which of them shall be masters, and which of them slaves; a contest, that -- however bloody -- can, in the nature of things, never be finally closed, so long as man refuses to be a slave.

1870 - from No Treason
... justice is an immutable, natural principle; and not anything that can be made, unmade, or altered by human power. ... It does not derive its authority from the commands, will, pleasure, or discretion of any possible combination of men, whether calling themselves a government, or by any other name.

from a letter to U.S. president Grover Cleveland
All restraints upon man's natural liberty, not necessary for the simple maintenance of justice, are of the nature of slavery, and differ from each other only in degree.

1852 - from An Essay On Trial By Jury
All governments, the worst on earth and the most tyrannical on earth, are free governments to that portion of the people who voluntarily support them.

1870 - from No Treason
For more than six hundred years -- that is, since Magna Carta, in 1215 -- there has been no clearer principle of English or American constitutional law, than that: in criminal cases, it is not only the right and duty of juries to judge what are the facts, what is the law, and what was the moral intent of the accused; but that it is also their right, and their primary and paramount duty, to judge the justice of the law, and to hold all laws invalid that are, in their opinion, unjust or oppressive, and all persons guiltless in violating, or resisting the execution of such laws.

1852 - from An Essay On Trial By Jury
No government knows any limits to its power except the endurance of the people.

1852 - from An Essay On Trial By Jury