Historical Reprints History Tyranny Unmasked : New Views of the Constitution

Tyranny Unmasked : New Views of the Constitution

Tyranny Unmasked : New Views of the Constitution
Catalog # SKU1910
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 2.00 lbs
Author Name John Taylor


Tyranny Unmasked

New Views of the Constitution
of the United States

Two Books in One Volume

John Taylor

As the Roman territory increased, republican principles were corrupted; and an absolute monarchy was established long before the republican phraseology was abolished.

From the Introduction

Recently, the failure of a consolidated republican government in France, may probably have been accelerated or caused by the extent of her territory, and the additions she made to it. Shall we profit by so many examples and authorities, or rashly reject them? If they only furnish us with the probability, that a consolidated republic cannot long exist over a great territory, they forcibly admonish us to be very careful of our confederation of republics. By this form of government, a remedy is provided to meet the cloud of facts which have convinced political writers, that a consolidated republic over a vast country, was impracticable; by repeating, an attempt hitherto unsuccessful, we defy their weight, and deride their admonition. I believe that a loss of independent internal power by our confederated States, and an acquisition of supreme power by the Federal department, or by any branch of it, will substantially establish a consolidated republic over all the territories of the United States, though a federal phraseology might still remain; that this consolidation would introduce a monarchy; and that the monarchy, however limited, checked, or balanced, would finally become a complete tyranny. This opinion is urged as the reason for the title of the following treatise. If it is just, the title needs no apology; and a conviction that it is so, at least excuses what that conviction dictated.

From the materials for bringing into consideration this important subject, I have chiefly selected the report of a Committee of Congress upon the protecting-duty policy, for examination; as containing doctrines leading to the issue I deprecate, and likely to terminate in a tyrannical government. In justice, however, to the gentlemen who composed this Committee, and not merely from civility, it is right to say, that I do not believe they imagined their doctrines would have any such consequence. But as I differ from them in this opinion, there can be no good objection against submitting to public consideration, the reasons which have caused that difference.

In doing so, the idea of any compromise with the protecting-duty policy is renounced, because it appears to me to be contrary to the principles of our government; to those necessary for the preservation of civil liberty under any form of government; to true political economy; and to the prosperity of the United States. The evils of the protecting-duty policy, may undoubtedly be graduated by compromises, like those of every other species of tyranny; but the folly of letting in some tyranny to avoid more, has in all ages been fatal to liberty. A succession of wedges, though apparently small, finally splits the strongest timber. I have, therefore, adverted to other innovations, in order to show, that such wedges are sufficiently numerous, to induce the public to consider their effects.


Theoretical and actual tyranny generally subsist together, but they are not inseparable. Actual liberty may subsist with theoretical tyranny, and actual tyranny with theoretical liberty. These States when British Provinces, were a proof of the first position, and revolutionary France of the second. Liberty and tyranny are neither of them inevitable consequences of any form of government, as both depend, to a great extent, upon its operations, whatever may be its form. All that man can accomplish, is to adopt a form, most likely to produce liberty, and containing the best precautions against the introduction of tyranny. An absolute monarch may occasionally dispense liberty and prosperity to a nation, and a representative government may occasionally dispense fraud and oppression. Such events under both forms of government, may be rare, but history proves that they are possible. If liberty consists in cutting off heads, the United States are as free as any other countries, but not more free than some; if in not transferring property by unnecessary taxation and exclusive privileges, they are less free than when they were provinces, and have nothing to boast of when compared with some other countries. As provinces, both their heads and their property were safe for nearly two centuries; in revolutionary France, with a popular representation, neither heads nor property were safe for two years.

A passion for carnage, is the tyranny of savages. Ambition and avarice are the passions which produce civilized tyranny. A policy for encouraging the latter passions, is like one for training savage nations to become bloodhounds. If ambition is cultivated by feeding it with excessive power, it extorts from industry the fruits of its labour; if avarice is cultivated by feeding it with excessive wealth, it acquires political power to pillage industry also. Enormous political power invariably accumulates enormous wealth, and enormous wealth invariably accumulates enormous political power. Either constitutes a tyranny, because the acquisitions of both are losses of liberty and property to nations.

Tithes to established churches have had these effects, although they are far less powerful engines for transferring property and power to a separate combined interest, than exclusive privileges, because they are limited in amount. They are also less pernicious in suggesting new abuses, because the establishment of one church, does not beget an endless establishment of churches, each endowed with tithes; and less injurious to national manners, because opinion, as in the case of female chastity, imposes a demeanour on the ministers of religion favourable to virtue. All other modes of transferring and accumulating wealth by law, are perpetually growing, and inculcate frauds. If they do not usually cut off heads, they invariably combine in themselves two of the three worst characters of tyranny. They transfer property and nurture vice.

By our political theory, the people are supposed to be the patrons of the government, and not the government the patron of the people. A theoretical reversal of this principle, is a theoretical advance towards tyranny; and a practical reversal of it, either by an assumption of power by a government, to prescribe constitutional regulations to the people, or to use their property in donations to individuals or combinations, is in my view, both theoretical and actual tyranny.

Having thus endeavoured to establish an idea of tyranny, theoretical or actual, let us proceed to enquire whether we are verging towards it in one or both forms. In its latter aspect the inquiry is most important, but this importance reflects great weight upon the enquiry as to its theoretical aspect, because tyranny in form is the first step towards tyranny in substance; and because great reliance is reposed on the argument "that our good theoretical system of government is a sufficient security against actual tyranny." Admitting that the argument has great weight, it becomes more material to preserve a theory which is good, and to prevent it from sliding into a theory which is bad. The moment this takes place, the argument fails, because its basis is gone. It even recoils upon those who urge it; since, if a good theory is a probable security for a free government, its gradual change into a bad one, will probably introduce tyranny.

8¼" height 6¾" width - 480+ pages

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