Lysander SpoonerLysander Spooner, (1808-1887) Political theorist, activist, abolitionist

Lysander Spooner Quote

“In truth, in the case of individuals, their actual voting is not to be taken as proof of consent, even for the time being. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, without his consent having ever been asked, a man finds himself environed by a government that he cannot resist; a government that forces him to pay money, render service, and forego the exercise of many of his natural rights, under peril of weighty punishments. He sees, too, that other men practise this tyranny over him by the use of the ballot. He sees further that, if he will but use the ballot himself, he has some chance of relieving himself from this tyranny of others, by subjecting them to his own. In short, he finds himself, without his consent, so situated that, if he use the ballot, he may become a master; if he does not use it, he must become a slave. And he has no other alternative than these two. In self-defence, he attempts the former. His case is analogous to that of a man who has been forced into battle, where he must either kill others, or be killed himself. Because, to save his own life in battle, a man attempts to take the lives of his opponents, it is not to be inferred that the battle is one of his own choosing. Neither in contests with the ballot -- which is a mere substitute for a bullet -- because, as his only chance of self-preservation, a man uses a ballot, is it to be inferred that the contest is one into which he voluntarily entered; that he voluntarily set up all his own natural rights, as a stake against those of others, to be lost or won by the mere power of numbers. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, in an exigency, into which he had been forced by others, and in which no other means of self-defence offered, he, as a matter of necessity, used the only one that was left to him.”

Lysander SpoonerLysander Spooner
~ Lysander Spooner

No Treason. No. II The Constitution, (Boston: Published by the Author, 1867)

Ratings and Comments

cal, lewisville, tx

It seems that our vote is our only defense. Usually we are only trying to select the lesser of the two evils and the one we select does not keep his campaign promises. It's time for a tea party revolution so that we have more than just a vote.

Waffler, Smith

Lysander is always in such a conundrum. I don't know why a guy like this just does not put a bullet to his own head. Otherwise I think his statement is true. Those who say voting does not work should read the news about Democrats rethinking their strategy after a few republicans won some governorships. Politics is about public opinion and as Eisenhower said governing from the middle of it. Lysander is correct but I think he and us need to grow up to the real world in which we live. No man is an island unto himself as Lysander appears to wish to be.

E Archer, NYC

Why is it, Waffler, that anyone who protests their oppression should just leave or kill themselves? Typical slave-talk from Waffler. Spooner nails it! We can talk all we want about how it is 'supposed' to be or what the Founders intended, the fact remains we are born into this world, a world that Spooner truthfully describes. He says what many of us do not want to admit, but there it is. Denial is rampant in American culture -- either we start learning hard truths or just roll over and accept our servitude with grace like good little obedient slaves. You know where I stand.

Mike, Norwalk

Placing popular pressure on slave masters is the potion that keeps the truth subdued while cal is right but, the lesser of 2 evils is still evil. Said well Archer. Voting for who will represent the State has only slowed the tyranny down. Taking into account Spooner's sentiment above, if we voted for individuals to represent 'We The People', there would be freedom for all and much less fear based slave mentalities.

Pearl, Oceanside

Well, considering that GW was appointed by the US Supremes and not voted in the second because our ballot system is rampant with corruption or at least possibilities for corruption, the former being the more likely, it seems Spooner did not realize what difficulties the voters in our era would be up against. Given the deal was broken years ago, that we would have a voice, a vote, it is up to the people to clean it up. The crooks sure won't. What that means could be interpreted in numerous way. I am basically a pacifist, scared of guns, and too old to fight. Just leave me in peace until it is time for me to go.

Mike, Norwalk

Pearl, you are probably going to get your wish sooner than you'd hoped for with the planned eugenics that are coming.

Waffler, Smith

Mike is so arrogant to call the people's choice (currently Obama for example) as "who will represent the state" whild his vote is always for "individuals who will represent the people". Mike it is so sad that you cannot see your hypocrisy and dictatorail mind set. You like Archer are not individualist as you dream to be but simple attackers against any vestige of people power or organization represented by the smallest org such as a homeowners org, village, city, state etc. You Mike always claim to be "for the people" while whatever the "people are for" is anathema to you. I know nothing about where Archer stands accept like Spooner he appears to stand four square for misanthropy.

Chazz Chance, PHX

I assume that Waffler would call all libertarians/anarchists "isolationist" as well, which is far from the truth. It is true that no man is an island, but to make a logical leap from the need for society to the need for government is absurd! Voluntary interaction is always better than coercive interaction. Regardless of what the public thinks is best, there is a best; it can be measured and tested. Not to mention, the two party system is a laughable gauge for "public opinion". Obama may have beat McCain, but that doesn't mean that a majority, or even a single person, "chose" him for the presidency. Lastly dear Waffler, to say that submission to theft and coercion is "growing up" is very misguided. On the contrary I would call it a evolutionary degeneration. If everyone "grew up" and submitted, America wouldn't exist. Our country was founded because a minority got tired of the overreaching arm of a government that was propped up by corrupt bankers.


Spooner's words contribute more to this discussion; "a man is none the less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years." Buying into the lesser evil false paradigm is akin to embracing the master. Some minor differences are evident between the two candidates for the much maligned presidential office, but in general they offer more of the same. Saying we need to pick one over the other discards the idea that we are consenting to tyranny. Voting is still either an act of aggression or defense, but I can not support it's use either way with a clear conscience. I vote no confidence.

Mike, Norwalk

Waffler, I have said this ad nauseam but, fore those new to here; Liberty is: The power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, except from the laws of nature. (Bouviers Law Dictionary) Liberty is the exemption from extraneous control. The power of the will, in its moral freedom, to follow the dictates of its unrestricted choice, and to direct the external acts of the individual without restraint, coercion, or control from other persons. Liberty is the right which nature gives to all mankind of disposing of their persons and property after the manner they judge most consistent with their happiness, on condition of their acting within the limits of the law of nature, and so as not to interfere with an equal exercise of the same rights by other men. (Blacks Law Dictionary 1st ed.) Liberty: "Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual." (Thomas Jefferson) How strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain Meaning of Words! (Samuel Adams)

In a representative republic where the hired servants (not leaders) represent through administration the individual sovereign's rectitude of be and do, liberty is realized by a natural law "order" which utilizes such tools as, codes, ordinances, regulations, rules, statutes to define the inalienable rights of the noble being - man. Thus a choice (vote) of or for servants and administrative tools has the understanding of a land of liberty with a body politic of 'We The People'.

A vote for tyrant slave masters - where the leader represents the foreign government / NOT 'We The People', is recognized by government administrations of compelled compliance, government licensing, victimless crimes, larceny with impunity (2nd plank of the communist manifesto, Social Security, police State confiscations, funny money, etc.), alienation of nature's endowed rights and all else that is antithetical to the liberty described here above.

Ronw13, Oregon

Now in 2016, votes were used rather than bullets, We the People Do Not consent to Any tyranny by majority or minority as waffler would hope. But in defiance and disdain of a centralized corrupt evil mindset, bent on destroying the Individual Sovereign and State. We the People have been nice up to this point, But, to ignore reality concerning our Declaration and Constitution does not change the outcome when it is attacked domestically. As Obama stumbled around for words, he used " phenomena" to describe the Movement, and the awakening, of We the People, backing our New President Elect. Mr. Trump. With a Firm Reliance in Divine Providence, knowing in whom we have believed, the world is shaking. Now to get to work on the dismantle and reentrenchment of honest governing and economic policy. Austrian School of Economics, Misesian branch. " Only when individuals are given full economic freedom will it be possible to secure political and moral freedom. Restrictions on economic freedom lead, sooner or later, to an extension of the coercive activities of the state into the political domain, undermining and eventually destroying the Essential Liberties which the Capitalist societies were able to obtain in the 19th century" Ludwig Von Mises.

Jim K, Austin

I love Lysander Spooner and doesn't he have a great name.

Howard, Bangkok

Lysander Rocks!!!


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