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

Lysander Spooner Quote

“Our constitutions purport to be established by 'the people,' and, in theory, 'all the people' consent to such government as the constitutions authorize. But this consent of 'the people' exists only in theory. It has no existence in fact. Government is in reality established by the few; and these few assume the consent of all the rest, without any such consent being actually given.”

Lysander SpoonerLysander Spooner
~ Lysander Spooner

Ratings and Comments

KS, Queensbury

It's true and well stated and that's why I give it a 5.

Stack, Greenwood

Quote is telling the truth. I did not understand this until I became disabled.

Joanna Parker, Ocean Shores, WA

The truth of Spooner's statement is so obvious that one wonders why so few people seem to have realized this same fact.

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Anonymous    3/8/05

It's Democracy's dirty little secret... ;-)

al baxter, rpv, cal

i like spooner!!!!!!!!!

E Archer, NYC

LOL Yes, I used to ask this of my history teachers. ;-) When do I get to sign on?! I do believe that a declaration of independence should be made by every person who is willing to fight for it -- no matter what nationality.

Mike, Norwalk

Establishing the/any Constitution consists theoretically of more elements than consent (of the each, every, any, all, etc.). When the subject matter is narrowly centered on, or focused to 'consent', the statement is then absolutely correct.

helorat, Milton

Silence is consent. If you are too lazy, stupid or ignorant to care, then you need and deserve to be led. That is life. That is history. That is reality. Democracy is evil. It is dictatorship legitimized by a vote. The opportunity for self-determination in a constitutional republic demands intelligent, educated and involved citizens. There are not many left who fit that qualification. The problem is we have safetynetted the rest to the point of giving them a hammock, and they and others still expect them to act and be treated like citzens instead of the slugs and leeches they really are. There is no place in the world that gives people more opportunity to be competent involved citizens. Few have the courage, or drive to take advantage of it. They prefer to be taken care of and whine they have no voice, when what they really lack is usually found running internally down the back and hanging between the legs of men.

Anonymous, Green, OH

No political system is universally accepted. The concept of a constitutional democracy is majority rule, but a constitution giving the government the responsibility and obligation for protecting minority rights. Spooner was an anarchist who disregarded regulations, such as practicing law without a license, etc.

warren, olathe

Hidden in that quote is an obvious hatred for the U.S. Spooner is very talented at using truth and logic to take you to the wrong conclusion. Talanted scumbag.

Mike, Norwalk

Actually, the Constitution does not purport to be established by 'the people. It is the government that purports to be established by the people, the Constitution is the defined lawful limitation on that people's government. The Constitution is a definition of structure and a Natural law recognition of duty limitations on those in government.

J Carlton, Calgary

One of the greatest illusions ever put forth by government was that the US is a democracy. It isn't. It's (supposed to be) a Constitutional Republic that holds its government to account. Now its just a front for some malignant international bankers. You're not a're "inventory".

jim k, austin

Our congress isn't concerned about "consent" from anyone unless it gets them elected. Getting elected is all most of them care about. A good example is Arlen Specter who switched parties only because polls showed he would lose in 2010.

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RBESRQ    5/11/09

"I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion." AG

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Anon    5/11/09

Anonymous Green OH-----Under natural law we are all born anarchists, it is the responsible self governed individual that respects the rights of others that has actually, by choice, controlled his anarchist tendencies which we all have at birth. What do you think parents spend there lives doing with their children? Taming them of those tendencies to disrespect the rights of others. You can be anarchic all you want if it doesn't interfere with the rights of another. The quote is great and it explains why when individuals agree on self evident common sense laws that exist and are known in spirit, consent is given through that spirit and since our Constitution protects those common sense truths individuals, because they ARE individuals, consent by silence and follow those laws by choice as it is to their benefit. They can also take away that consent and move elsewhere or do so by violating the rights of others and becoming criminals in the process. Morals are our common sense understanding between each other and it is moral to let others lead their lives as it is for them to let others do the same. Ever wonder why individual members of our society take no oath to uphold the Constitution like our servants do? This would violate the right of free choice that document protects as the natural law it is. Consent is a must in our voluntary agreement with our founders or the minority that created our self governing administrative structure.

Mike, Norwalk

Anon, excellent point. In the Constitutional Republic, the servants of the sovereigns take an oath to limit their official activities to those natural laws the Constitution defines as appropriate. Further, even those codes, rules, and statutes that are accurate in their definition of Natural Law, but are not within the confines of the Constitution have no political force or application on the individual sovereign. The individual, as sovereign, has no such limitation of expression.

C. Olson, SLC, Utah

I disagree with Lysander Spooner for that allows encourages people to complain and offers no remedy.. the remedy is in the power of the pen of people to affirm and sustains the rights the government purports to protect.... by seeking recall or injunctive relief for violations of constitutional law by misrepresentative in violation of the sacred trust afforded by the people to standard that protects the rights of people under the governing instrument of law..( Constitutional..) It encourages complaint and apathy... not stewardship and statesmanship.... WE are the people who must stand up united to sustain the governing instrument of constitutional law in protection of the rights of man, to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, ( love, marriage and family, and property stewardship)

A.Jurgensen, Stuart, FL

The people who wrote the constitution were few and included no farmers or teachers or 'ordinary' citizens. The people were, by and large, uneducated or undereducated and so those who were took over. Understandable, of course. But Lysander Spooner was absolutely right in any case.

fiwiki, Austin ,Texas

The real genius behind our form of government, is not in its democratic nature, but in the Republic. The problems all arise from the ignorance of people allowing their representatives to become shills and thieves in the night.

jim k, Austin

"Government is a disease masquerading as its own cure". L. Neal Smith.

E Archer, NYC

Assuming the people DO consent to the Constitution of their republican government, how will that make the government stay within their bounds? As far as I can tell, the government seems to assume that it has been charged with checking itself. Where are the checks against a national central government that assumes powers never granted?

warrdoc, Elk Grove

I think what we should all remember, and a lot of us don't: the moment the constitution was ratified began the movement to undermine it. To my mind, that is why Thomas Jefferson said,"the remedy is to set them right as to facts. Pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is ti's natural manure."


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