John C. Calhoun Quote

“The government of the absolute majority is but the government of the strongest interests; and when not effectively checked, is the most tyrannical and oppressive that can be devised... [To read the Constitution is to realize that] no free system was ever farther removed from the principle that the absolute majority, without check or limitation, ought to govern.”

~ John C. Calhoun

Speech given in the US Senate against the Force Bill, February 16, 1833
http://www.apstudent.com/ushistory/docs1801/calhoun2.htm

Ratings and Comments


Logan, Memphis, TN

Well said.

Frank Barnett, Oklahoma City, USA

Needs to be quoted in by the networks and newspapers on a daily basis! This and other quotes like it would be very popular and instructive to our society.!

Ken, Allyn, WA

I think Socrates might agree.

warren, olathe

Statement is good on its own but I believe he was using it in defense of the institution of slavery.

Jack, Brussels, Belgium

I believe (subject to correction) that this is an excerpt from a speech that Senator Calhoun made in the Senate in February 1833.

Editor, Liberty Quotes

Thanks, Jack. Yes, the quote is from day 2 of a speech Senator Calhoun from South Carolina gave against the Force Bill in 1833. The source has been updated.

E Archer, NYC

Leaves little room to doubt that the founders knew that the power of the majority must always be checked and limited.

J Carlton, `Calgary

In short, democracy is Mob Rule in a cheap suit....

jim k, austin

Majority rule is fine when electing the high school queen, but becomes tyranny when nations adopt it.

Waffler, Smith

Calhoun was complaining about South Carolina paying or collecting tariffs like the rest of the states. The bill was the first public statement expressing the illegality of the idea of secession. Calhoun was not making a well founded proposition here just saying that South Carolina wanted to do what ever it wanted to do and screw the rest of the states and nation. It was just a self serving statement that probably helped in getting him elected. Read Andrew Jacksons address to the wayward South Carolinians. Warren is quite right on this way, way to go Bud!

Ronw13, Yachats Or

President Andrew Jackson revoked the central banks charter and balanced the budget ! Each state has the right to secession when the government is reduced to despotism. As also the right to declare war when invaded by a hostile foreign nation, Texas and Arizona comes to mind. The word democracy, democ, mob rule, as in the mob rule of ancient Rome under Emperors. They also fell to debauchery and Inordinate affection which destroyed the nation. Bond servants we have always for they fear independence.

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