Thomas Skidmore, The Rights of Man to Property, 1829.



In support of a General Division of Property, and of the method proposed to be pursued in effecting it.

In offering these reasons, I shall pursue, as far as may be convenient only, the numerical order observed, in the preceding chapter; and in doing so, necessarily am called upon, to say why a State-Convention is requisite. Without much reflection, it might appear, that as the whole question involved, is, whose is this property, and whose this? and who shall have either or both, after the present possessor, or possessors have done with it? that it was simply a question of meum and tuum; of mine and yours, in the first instance; and in the second, another question, of the manner of the descent of estates. Now these are subjects of which the Legislature, have full cognizance, and it would seem, therefore, to be unnecessary to interfere with the present Constitution, to bring about any modification in these particulars that might be desirable. But if my estimation of the rights of property, is correct, it will follow that the general and received opinion is wrong. I admit, even in a State of Society, man's equal right to property, exclusive for all, if it be so for any, and consequent upon this admission, his equal [146] personal rights of every description. But this the present Constitution forbids in various ways, and it is necessary, therefore, to abolish it and make a new one. For example, I propose to put up at public sale, all the public lands belonging to, and within the State, whether those adjacent to, and on which are found our valuable salt-springs; or those that have been pledged by the Constitution to what is called the School-Fund; or those belonging to the Indians. I would give the same rights of suffrage to the red man, the black man and the white man. I would oppose every thing of privilege now disfiguring our present Constitution, in whatever shape it might present itself: for it would be in vain that we should equalize, the first possession of property, as I have heretofore called that to which I afterwards gave the name of "patrimony," if so soon, as we have done so, we set about giving privileges or charters; the direct effect of which is to disturb the equality we have just created, by taking property from some, and giving it to others.

As to the Salt-Springs -- there are those, no doubt, who have made up their minds, from the contemplation of things at they are, that it would be impolicy, ever to suffer them to become private property. They would be in danger, such persons think, from the tendency which wealth, in a long course of time, has, to increase its own amount in the hands of its owners, independent of political power, and for selfish purposes, of coming [147] ultimately into few hands -- and then extortion upon the people, would be the immediate and certain consequence, if interdiction to the existence of such an evil, were not written in our constitution. But here is a new state of things, it may be about to come up. A state of things such, that any one or more, of these Salt-Springs could never remain longer at farthest in any one person's possession, than the mature portion of his life. It reverts then to the public -- and is necessarily transfered to other owners, as many as this kind of property admits of, by the process of subdivision. That enormous and overgrown wealth, which would be sufficient to engross this valuable property of our State, is only to be acquired by transmitting the accumulations of one generation to another, in an hereditary manner; and as the state of society which this work presents to the consideration of the public, is intended to prevent this; there could not exist the remotest possibility of their becoming the property of persons so few in number, as to destroy that competition between them which is so indispensable to the production of any commodity at the lowest price. Besides, it is to be considered, that these springs are not only very abundant, but cover a great extent of country; five counties or more being supplied with them.

If any one can possibly imagine that it is yet practicable for these springs to fall into the possession of a few hands, if the constitutional [148] prohibition were removed; such person may see cause to doubt the truth of his opinion, when he comes maturely to consider the magnitude, even of their present value, and the impossibility there will be of any person whatever, under the proposed change in the affairs of our State, to obtain the means of purchasing them, even if they should all be offered up for sale at a time, (after the first General Division,) a thing which can scarcely happen even perhaps in the course of a hundred generations. For the value of these Springs is already very great; though I have no means of ascertaining with any great accuracy, what that value may be. In twelve years, coming down to the present (1829,) the average duties that have been derived from them by the State, amount to about $75,000 a year. If we take the interest on the capital employed, at this sum also, it will probably be not far from correct: so that this item will afford a tolerably correct criterion, for ascertaining the value of the springs in question, according to the present modes of appreciating property. Now the capital necessary to earn an interest of $75,000 a year, at five per cent, is no less a sum than one million and a half. In the first General Division of Property, if each person, arrived at maturity, should receive $3,000, the aggregate property of the State would amount to about three thousand million of dollars, which is probably above its value. How, then, will it be possible, for a man having only $3,000, to purchase that which will [149] bring a million and a half? Five hundred such men would be requisite. A number perhaps greater than is now engaged in the business of making salt.

Nor can a foreigner, supposing him to have enough to enable him to do so, come among us, and monopolize it. To do this, he must become a citizen, for an alien cannot hold land. And even if our laws, did admit aliens to own land, if would be very easy, as it is also proper, to alter them so as to forbid it. But a foreigner on becoming a citizen, must abide by the duties of a citizen: and of course, must give up all he has over a patrimony equal to that possessed by every other citizen. [Article 14. p. 60, provides; that the children of foreigners emigrating here, and becoming citizens, shall be entitled to patrimony on arriving at the age of maturity; provided they have resided in the State ten years immediately preceding. This is proposed, rather as a principle of good policy, than as a matter of right, in him or her who may receive. And it occurs to me to suggest for inquiry, if it should not be thought worthy of being adopted, how far it would be good policy to supply the deficiency, by bestowing upon poor aliens becoming citizens, or upon their children, born in a foreign country, the excess of property, which by Article 15, is required to be given up, by rich foreigners, on coming here to be citizens.] If, therefore, shortly after having done so, he should go forth and purchase such an immense amount of property as the Springs suppose, it would be evidence, that he had not surrendered up all he had; and such a transgression, would warrant his entire dispossession of his purchase, and punishment in addition. In the [150] ultimate future progress of this System of the Rights of Property; I do not anticipate that it would be correct or proper, thus, to order a foreigner to lay down all that he has, and take up only, so much for his own exclusive use, as would be equal to the patrimony of a person just arrived at maturity. It is proper only, when he comes from a country, which does not acknowledge the equal rights of men to property. Coming from a country which does acknowledge such rights, and which has given him his patrimony, and to which also, it may be, he has added the acquisitions of many years of industry, it would be manifestly improper, and contrary to the intentions of the System recommended in this work, to touch a cent of it, so long as he lived, otherwise than in taxes for the support of government. To do otherwise than this, would contravene the spirit of the 19th article, in the preceding chapter: -- which allows every receiver of his patrimony, to take it, or the avails of it, to whatever country he shall prefer, without molestation or hindrance, there to spend his life, if to him it shall seem good.

There is another objection, which will present itself to some. May not, they will say, a great number of these proprietors, if they shall think proper, combine to demand an extortionate price for salt? I answer, no. For then, as now, will there be severe penal laws against all combinations; but then, more than now, will they be rigidly enforced. Besides, to guard against their [151] ill effects, it will be necessary to limit the number of persons composing associations even. And this will be the principle of limitation : -- no association, or combination of the exertions of any number of individuals, will be allowed at all, for any purpose, where the persons constituting such number, can carry on the business to which the association would direct their efforts, as advantageously for the public benefit, as well without an association, as with it. Thus, it will be allowable for ten men to own a ship in company; for they can own it in no other manner; and can employ it in no other manner; inasmuch as it will cost so much, that no number less than ten perhaps, can command means enough to purchase her. But it would be manifestly improper to allow the combination to extend farther. [Houses, particularly in cities, would be more costly than would comport with the means of a single family to purchase a whole one; but they also, in many instances, contain room enough to accommodate several. They might, therefore, be sold in parts: and each purchaser own such part, as now, he owns the whole.] It would be manifestly dangerous, to admit all ship-owners, to combine, and form a common treaty, to demand such price for freight, as such treaty should require. It would be as improper to allow all the bakers to conspire to fix the price of bread; or all the millers to combine to say how much they would have for their flour. The operation of all these fraternities of trade, would be to obtain more than could be obtained of the whole [152] community, if they did not exist. They would, therefore, be suppressed, by direct and criminal prohibition as well in the case of salt, as in all other things.

It would be easy to show, mathematically, the utter absurdity, of the supposition, that any man could possibly obtain possession of such a vast amount of property as the purchase of the Salt-Works of this State, necessarily implies. In the present state of the world, there are instances enough, of single individuals owning from one to ten and even more millions of dollars. But let the system at present under consideration, be supposed to be introduced every where, and the case would be very different. Although every man, he who now has been able to amass his ten millions, as well as every other, would possess the full exercise of his talents, his genius, knowledge, industry, and economy; yet, no one then could exercise them over the destitution of his fellow-citizens, since such destitution would not exist; and of course, no opportunity would exist to obtain enormous returns, for enterprize and industry. And, even if there were such opportunities, the great number of competitors, which a perpetually equal division of property constantly produces, would narrow down exorbitant profits, to that, which is altogether reasonable. If it be said, that all this is very well, on the supposition that the System is universally introduced, but that it does not apply till that period arrives; I answer, that it applies in part, and probably to a much greater [153] extent than at first thought may be imagined. A cargo of flour, it is true, might be bought in New-York for five dollars a barrel, and conveyed to Lima for instance, where it may be sold for sixty dollars, owing perhaps, to a state of war and consequent famine. Yet, if, in this State, the new System, were introduced, previous to this cargo being taken to Lima, the exorbitant profits, realized in the case before us, would be shared, in all probability, by some ten, twenty, or fifty men.

It should be recollected, that equal property being given to every human being as he arrives at the age of maturity, would necessarily cause equal education, instruction, or knowledge, or nearly so; and, indeed, it is a provision of the system. I support, that such instruction shall be equal, inasmuch as it is to be afforded at the public expense. No one, therefore, could have the power, to make his possessions bear on him who had none, for none such would exist. Nor could there be so much difference in the riches of the mind, as to afford an opportunity to him who should know most, to extract property from him who should know least. Under all these circumstances of equal condition, as regards both property and intellect, no one could by any possibility amass a fortune greater than that of another, by any considerable amount. To suppose the contrary, would be to imagine that a man who begins the world as every other man begins it, both as to property and knowledge, equal with his fellows [154] having, say $3000, could yet, nevertheless, obtain, and obtain, too, from his fellow-beings, for there are none other of whom to obtain it, an increase to this possession, say, if you please, of $3,000,000 dollars. If this were to be estimated, as having been obtained, by labor, at the rate of one dollar a day, over and above his expenditures, for his maintenance, it would be equal to the labor of three million days; or ten thousand years precisely; reckoning 300 working days to the year! Yet, the mature part of such a man's life, cannot be reckoned with any propriety, at more than fifty years; and in many cases, at not so much as half this term. Why, then, let me ask, should the labor of ten thousand years, be given for that of fifty? Why should it be, that the labor of some thirty, or forty, or fifty years, of the life of John Jacob Astor, for instance, should be paid for with the labor of ten thousand years of his contemporaries; and contemporaries, too, of whom it may certainly be said, that their labors, and their lives are quite as valuable, and meritorious in and to Society, as his can pretend to be? Had the system existed, which it is my wish to see introduced, such a thing could never have happened in human society.

Men starting equal in property and knowledge, could never have been cheated or forced into any such enormous injustice, as that of giving the labor of ten thousand years, and more, for that of fifty! Nor, of course, could any man, John Jacob [155] Astor, or any other person; starting with only his equal patrimony, or perhaps with nothing, as he may have done, have come into such enormous possessions! It is only by mankind having suffered governments, to cheat much the greater part of the posterity who succeeded them, out of their rights of property, through the instrumentality of wills, that such enormous wealth in a single individual, has been allowed to accumulate. It is obvious, therefore, I think that no one, under the new arrangement of things, could possibly obtain a monopoly of the Salt Springs, or of any other property, even for a single life-time.

After having thus obviated the objections that may have seemed to oppose themselves to a public Sale of the Salt Springs, thus making them private property; it is proper to state the objections that arise in my mind to the State's retaining them as public property, and leasing them out. In the new order of things, men will be very much disposed as they are now, to have what they may call their own, during their own natural lives, and which they may dispose of, whenever they shall think fit, in, what may be called, perpetuity to them. But if a lease be taken for a term of years, that term may be considered judicious by some, and injudicious by others, and unreasonable by all, as no one can know, whether such term would be the same as, or more, or less than, their natural lives. If a lessee dies, and leaves a portion, of the time of the lease, unexpired; such portion would [156] not so readily obtain a purchaser, as if it were in fee-simple, (be it understood, however, for the term of the purchaser's life, he continuing still keep it:) Nor on the other hand, if the lessee survived the expiration of his lease, would he feel the same disposition to renew it, as he would to keep it, if it had not yet expired. Besides it is easy to imagine that a person, of the age of maturity, may believe that he would best consult his own interest, by investing his patrimony in one or more of these Salt-Springs, and, it may be, for five or ten years, remains, contented with his situation, but at the time alluded to, perhaps, sees that he could improve his condition if he could sell his Springs, as other land-holders sell their estates. But if the man who would otherwise be the purchaser, at a price mutually agreeable, cannot have them, for the term of his (the purchaser's) natural life, it is an impediment in the way of a ready transmission of property from one contemporary to another, frustrating as far as it goes, one of the most important purposes of society; to wit, the entire freedom of exchanges. I lay it down, therefore, that there should be no such thing as public property put out upon lease. 1st. because in the proposed new modification of society, men will stand in situations of equality with each other, which render it incompatible with their private welfare : and 2d. Because it has the unavoidable effect of diminishing the quantity of the public wealth by obstructing the facility of exchanges. [157]

The same, or rather similar objections present themselves in regard to the retension of the public lands, by what is called the School Fund. Education is certainly and deservedly, a most important consideration with the people of this State; and there is no doubt, that the expense of giving it should be borne by the State. But at the same time, it would be manifestly improper to withhold them from the proposed General Division; since this is the best way of bringing settlers upon them, and thus making such of them as are capable of it, valuable; unless, indeed, it be thought best to submit them to the operation of lease; the objections to which apply with the same force here, as to the Salt-Springs. Besides, it is absolutely as ridiculous, for a State which is competent to accomplish what it undertakes to accomplish, to lay by, a certain sum in one place, for one object; and a certain other sum, for another object, in another place; as it would be, for a gentleman who knows himself to be able to pay for whatever he shall call for, at a tavern, to have money in one pocket to pay for his glass of wine, and in another, more of the same, for his crackers and cheese. If the State or Gentleman, are not able to pay for what they order, they should not order at all; but, if they are, there is no occasion for two or more pockets. Let the School-Fund then be annihilated; and let a new and general arrangement take place for providing a Treasury, out of which, all objects are to be paid for [158] which the Legislature shall order to be accomplished, without having so many ridiculous and unmeaning distinctions.

The present Constitution guarantees to the Indians of this State, the entire and exclusive possession, of what they, as well as the State, call their lands. Now, these, on the principles already indicated in this Work, are, of right, to be surrendered up, in order, that if they be more than their equitable proportion, some of them shall be taken from them; if they be less, then, that more may be given to them, so as to place them on a footing of equality with their white brethren, in respect to both real and personal estate. To break, then, this guarantee, it is necessary to remodel the Constitution, and for this, a Convention is the proper instrument.

The same eternal and indissoluble rights, exist for all: "all men are created equal:" and neither governments, nor others, have any right, so to speak, to uncreate them. The black man's right to suffrage, being a personal right, is as perfect as the white man's; and, so also is his right of property. But, if the present constitution existed, and the colored citizen were put in possession of his equal portion of the domain of the State, and all its personal effects, he would not have the same right to appear at the ballot boxes, as the white man. It is necessary that he should have such right; for elsewhere there is no power, but unlawful force, with which he may defend his [159] property. Those who could go to the ballot-boxes, and put in their votes, could, by that very act, take it away from him, without his having a chance . . to make reprisal or resistance. It would be nonsense on the one hand to say, "this is your property;" and on the other, to tell him; "but you shall not have the same power to defend it, as belongs to another." Nor, can it be pretended, on any account, that what, some people call policy should sanction the with-holding from the black man, the same right of suffrage, which is extended to the white man, by reason of the former existence of slavery among us. The number of colored people, in the State of New-York, is very small, when compared with the white population. In 1825, the whites were about 1,570,000, and the colored people, about 46,000; so that there are upwards of 34 whites, to one of the African race. A ratio so disproportionate as to banish every thing like objection to give to them a full enjoyment of their rights, from the most fastidious mind.

But if the principle is to prevail, that property is given to any human being, in the right which such being holds to it, in virtue of his existence; and that the right of suffrage, being a personal right, co-existent with the being himself, belongs to him also, as a means of its defence and preservation, as well as of his personal liberty; it follows that woman as well as man, is entitled to the same right of suffrage, and ought, on no [160] consideration to be deprived of it. It is not necessary to say one word on the propriety or utility of its exercise; this is a matter to be left, wholly and exclusively to the judgement and pleasure of her or him to whom such right belongs, independent and regardless, even, of the whole community.

To restore the right of suffrage, to those to whom it has hitherto been denied, but to whom of course it belongs, with as much propriety as it belongs to any one, it is necessary that the State Constitution should be remodelled; and for this, in addition to the reasons already given, it is requisite to assemble a new State Convention.

It will be right and proper to repeal all charters of whatever kind they may be, and thus to consign them to a grave from which there shall be no resurrection. But as I do not undertake to say that any thing ought to be done, without giving a reason why, in any case; I shall not do it, in this.

In the first place, if property be equally divided among all; if all have equal personal rights; if administration of the laws, which of course, are supposed to be made equal, is impartially made; what occasion is there, for charter. Is it that more money, more profit, may be made by the party receiving it, than could be made without it? If not, what is it wanted for all? And if it is wanted for the sake of more profit, than could otherwise be obtained; out of whom, is it to be made? Is it not to be made, before charter be [161] granted, out of the community? And after the charter be given, is it not also to be made, out of the same community? And is it, then, any benefit to any community that such charter should be granted? Besides, where is the right? Where is the correct moral power, to compel any community or any portion of any community, to pay more for a commodity or a service, in the presence of a charter, than in its absence? And if the correct moral power, the honest principle of right, is wanting to grant such charter, how have Legislatures, legitimately done it? How had they the true power to do it? For the true power to grant a charter, or to do any other legislative act, is the good of the whole community. But it is not to the good of the whole community that they should be made to pay more for a commodity or a service, after the granting of a charter, than before it. How then has any Legislature done it, with any authorized power? And if they have granted, what in fact they had no right to grant, is it a legal grant, is it, generated, as it is, in wrong, in power usurped; is it, I ask, any grant at all? Is it not a nullity, which stands self-revoked before an impartial community? Besides if the Legislature had no power to bestow any such supposed charter, what right has the party receiving it, to accept it? Can the thief of power, give a valid title to the receiver of power stolen; any more than he who has stolen goods, can give a valid title to their receiver? Will not an impartial community [162] which punishes crime, and takes charge of public welfare, chastize the criminals on the one hand, and break their charters on the other?

Of course I say nothing of charters, if any such there be, which do not, and are not intended to obtain, more from the community than could or would be obtained without them. These, at least, are harmless to the public, whether they be or be not useful to those who receive them. And to suppose that a people ever intended to sanction any other description of charter, would be to say no less than that they were willing to give an express authorization to others to rob them! No constitution, therefore, whatever it may say, can ever be supposed to have had any such meaning, without supposing a whole people to have lost their senses; and in such case, such constitution would be a very bad fountain from which to derive authority.

But it is said that a charter is, or may be, a contract made between the government, and the Charter-party, for the benefit of the community, and that, therefore, it is not to be broken. This would be strange enough when the breaking of a contract, is a thing which is done every hour of the day. What! May not the Public Authority break its contract, with the Brooklyn Ferry Boats! Why not? Are they not able and willing, too, to make good all damages, which may arise in consequence of any such breach.? Besides, how much damage, does any one think, that it is possible, for their proprietors to prove they sustain, merely [163] because they are deprived of the power of preventing others from carrying passengers cheaper than they do? How much damage could the New-York Gas Light Company show that they suffered, if such were the fact, that others furnished light, of an equal quality and at a lower price? Is an individual, is a company wronged; are they injured, because they are stripped of the power to command greater price, than honester competitors are willing to accept? Moreover, we are told, it is for the benefit of the community. How is this? In a question of damages, between the community on the one hand, and the proprietors of a charter, on the other, might not the community say, show us how much you have received at our hands, over and above what would have been required of us, at other hands, and then we will listen to you with some patience. Till then your charter is revoked, and you must be content to do business on the same terms as other men; that is, you must engage with the competition of your fellow-citizens.

But some charters, it is pretended, have actually done public service for which they have not yet received the promised consideration. The Manhattan Bank, it is said, has furnished water to our citizens! And do not our citizens pay them for it? And if they do not pay them, whose fault is it? Is it because the company is restrained, by their charter from asking such a price for it, as will indemnify them? If so, then, are such of our citizens as thus receive water from this company, [164] receiving it at a price below its worth; and the remainder of the community is making good the deficiency, with profit to the company. Here then are features of iniquity which are sufficient to vitiate the whole charter, if there were no other. Inasmuch as only a few are benefitted, how can it be said that it is for the benefit of the whole community; and if not, why should they be called upon to pay the consideration? In truth, is not the claim for remuneration found to rest with the other party, inasmuch as they have been actually injured instead of being benefitted? If the fact had actually happened, that some Banking Institution, this, for instance, had constructed for the State, the Erie and Champlain Canals, in manner as useful and valuable as they are now, in consideration of receiving a Banking privilege, extending through all time; still it would be competent, and morally correct, in the present or any other generation, or the government which should act for them, to repeal such privilege, and withhold it altogether. And all that justice could require at the hands of the government, in favor of the Bank, whose charter is supposed to be thus repealed, would be simply this: as much as they could possibly have made by an equal application, of industry, talents and resources in any other way. Then justice would be satisfied; for no one would be injured, either by giving too much on the one hand, or receiving too little on the other. For justice does not consist in giving more for a commodity or a service, than an [165] equivalent. A promise to do more is an injustice, if it be fulfilled, to the promisor himself, which he has no more right to inflict on himself, than on another.

But, there is a very important reason why a charter, which is pretended to be granted for ever, is one, which, of all others, with the greatest propriety, may be doomed to immediate death. It is because the authority granting, or rather pretending to grant it, has, and can have, by no possibility, a right to make such a grant; and, for the reason that it extends its power over the succeeding generation; whereas it might at least seem to be more plausible, if it only affected to extend power over the generation then in being, and for whom it pretends to act. But as to enforce the truth of this remark, even with reference to governments as they are now constituted, I cannot use language or argument more appropriate, than the following quotation, I shall use it, instead of my own.

"There never did, there never will, and there never can exist a parliament, or any description of men, or any generation of men, in any county, possessed of the right, or the power of binding and controlling posterity to the end of time, or of commanding for ever how the world shall be governed, or who shall govern it. And, therefore, all such clauses, acts, or declarations, by which the makers of them attempt to do, what they have neither the right nor the power to [166] to do, nor the power to execute, are in themselves, null and void. Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself, in all cases, as the ages and generations which preceded it. The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave, is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies. Man has no property in man; neither has any generation a property in the generations which are to follow." -- Paine's Works, v. 2, p. 30 -- Rights of Man.

If it were not arguing the question with too little respect to the dead; we might say, to all those who are dissatisfied with the arguments against the validity of charters granted in perpetuity, which have, on a multitude of occasions, been urged, by a multitude of writers of the greatest talents;

"inasmuch as it is neither the people of the present day; nor their government, who have granted you this ancient charter; go ye to your grantors; go ye even to them; awake them from their graves; and demand of them, either the fulfilment of their grants, or restitution in damages therefor; for it is to these, if to any, that you have a right to look for the realization of your claims; and not to the living. These have their own happiness to consult, and know nothing of those, from whom you pretend to derive your claims."

One of the most common objects for which Charters are solicited is that of carrying on Banking operations; and as these, in the way in which [167] are conducted, are political machines by which more interest is obtained for the use of money, than they could otherwise receive, (otherwise they would not be wanted), they are objectionable for the same reason, that charters for ferries, for Gas Light, and for other purposes are. But as to accomplish their object they contrive, through the assistance of Legislatures, who are often and probably always bribed in some way or other, to a greater or less extent, to obtain possession, in whole or in part, of so much of the Sovereign Power as is exercised through the coinage or the Mint; and as the real nature, of the use they make, of such possession, is not so well understood as it ought to be, it may not be amiss, that it be examined a little more in detail. It will serve to make more heeded the warning which this work gives, not to suffer such institutions as those I am considering, to have existence in the system proposed therein to the consideration of the reader.

In understanding this subject, as well as any other, it is only necessary to dig deep enough to discover the foundation; to go back far enough, to arrive at first principles; and then, the plainest intellect may be sure he does not deceive himself. Let us now suppose the people of this State, to be organized in manner -- such as I have already suggested; that each has his equal value of property; that they are all exercised in the different arts, trades and occupations, which they intend to pursue; that they need perhaps, Roads and Canals, [168] which are not yet constructed, but simply laid out ready to be completed: and that they have no money. What is to be done? I suppose them to be well aware of the use, and importance of money, in effecting exchanges, by substituting its agency, for the troublesome and almost ineffectual operation of barter. How may it be introduced? In one way, thus:

Government would possess, it may be supposed. a given quantity of silver which it would cause to be made into coin of various sizes, such as we see now issue from the United States' Mint. And no other than the government is supposed or allowed to have any of this metal. So soon as this coin is made in sufficient quantity, in the judgment of the government, conveniently to answer its intended purpose, the operation of introducing it begins. The public authority now addresses each and every individual thus:

"You are all equal, in rights of person and property; you have each an equal interest in cutting these Canals, and making these Roads; for, they are for the common benefit; now, provide, each of you, yourselves, with your own provisions, implements, &c. -- and come and labor on these public works, each an equal number of days, until they be completed; and then receive, each of you, an equal share, by weight, of these pieces of silver, large and small, and take them home with you; and, thereafter as you have received them, as it were, in satisfaction of your labor, [169] direct or indirect, on these Public Works -- though they are in truth, your joint property, and as such are their own reward; yet let these pieces of silver, pass from one to another, in lieu of barter, which you have heretofore practised, as a full satisfaction, to which, be it understood you all agree, for what you wish to obtain or have to dispose of."
In this way, may we suppose, probably however contrary to the fact; that money was introduced among men.

Being once introduced, and each having an equal quantity, the natural operation of the diversity of occupations pursued by the different members of the community, would be, immediately to render it unequal. One perhaps is an agriculturalist, and must wait the progress of the seasons, for the return of his industry. In the mean time, he pays away all the money he has, and perhaps contracts debts, for articles of necessity. Others prosecute the arts from which returns are had, hourly, daily, monthly and yearly. So that it is impossible, after the reception, each of his own equal share of his money, from the Public Authority, that it should ever be equal again, among men, at any one period of time; though the total quantity which each may possess in any one, two, or three years will be as nearly equal as may be. At least such is the purpose of every well founded society.

Suppose, now, some sagacious, but avaricious beings, finding how much the possession of money [170] is rendered unequal, by the natural and unavoidable operation of inevitable causes; and seeing how eminently beneficial it is, in the transacts of exchanges, over that of barter; and having also, in their own hands, by the very action of the causes which they so well understand, an unequal possession, for the time being, of the coin of the country, should, by any means that they may find sufficient to delude the judgement, or corrupt the integrity of the government; obtain a charter to deal in the precious metals. What might not be expected to take place? To what calamities to the public, would not such an assemblage of nearly all the coin of the community, into the possession, and under the management, of a few hands, inevitably lead? Would it not amount, in fact, to a destruction of the coinage; to its utter banishment from the community; and to a consequent return to a state of barter; or, in order to avoid such an alternative, would it not lead, to the negotiation of a treaty between each individual of the community not interested in such Charter, and the Bank itself, as it would be called, whereby a price would be given, for the use of that which belongs to the public; which was made at their expense; and which price, but for this unlawful combination of accidental holders of the coin in question; could not, by any possibility be obtained. I say unlawful combination, notwithstanding it has a charter from the Government. For it is evidently of that description [171] which goes to injure the great majority of the community, for the benefit, the iniquitous and guilty benefit, of a few; and it is this feature which makes it unlawful. It is as much unlawful in its operation, though not in its form; as a combination, by agreement, of the same holders for the same purposes would be; and combinations of this kind, all governments have not failed to punish. The principal reason, why charters are sought, is, that government having authorized a combination, the same in principle as a private combination cannot consistently punish a transgression, in which they themselves are, in law language, particeps criminis; or in other words, partakers; though stern and rigorous justice demands, that they should punish those who receive an iniquitous charter, even, though it be from themselves, as readily as they would any other offence. But the government, if strict justice were done, ought also to be punished in a similar way. For the term government, in this case., means simply the public servants. These latter, therefore, as richly deserve punishment, as would the butler of a gentleman, who should give away his master's wine, without authority to do so, to some acquaintance or companion; and it would he singular enough, if this latter should undertake to detain it, from the butler's master, and that on the plea of contract! Nor would the matter appear any better, if another of the gentleman's servants, the hostler for instance, should undertake to play the Judge; and to decide against his [172] master, in favor of the illegal holder of the wine. Yet a transaction of this sort, exhibits all the features of chartered rights and privileges.

I trust, then, it is apparent to the reader, where society begins as it ought to do; that Charter or combination, is the only means whereby can be obtained a price for the use of money; in other words, interest. And these being both illegal and improper, interest is also.

Let it not be said, that the holder of a piece of coin, is therefore, owner, absolute owner, and has an absolute right to do with it as he pleases; to withhold it from circulation, if he chooses; to destroy it. No such thing. He is absolute owner of it, only within certain limits; and these limits are prescribed by his relation with his fellow-beings, through their common government. This coin was made at the expense of the whole community; and was and is therefore, their sole property. The holder has only the use of it. And this use is, to supercede the necessity of barter in exchanges. To destroy it, then, or what is the same thing, to keep it where it cannot be used at all, is to prevent such use, and to frustrate the purpose, the declared and agreed purpose of its creation. Who, then, has this right thus to counteract, thus to defeat, the intentions of society? No one. But it may be asked, may not the holder of a piece of coin, keep it by him, for any length of time, without use, with the same propriety that the owner of a plantation may refuse or neglect, for any indefinite period, no [173] matter how long, to cultivate it? I answer, certainly. But I reply, also, that neither has this right. The common property of mankind, whenever it is divided equally among them, I mean substantially so, is divided for some purpose; otherwise it would continue to be held in common. What is that purpose? Why, simply, this: that each for himself may employ his industry to greater advantage, by consenting to such division of the common property; and agreeing, one to follow one occupation; another, another; and so on; than he could possibly realize, in any other state of things. Without such agreement, he would necessarily be compelled to supply all his own wants, by direct application of his own industry; and this would leave him in a condition wretched enough. To avoid such an extravagant waste of his labor, he comes into society; and agrees to make hats; if another will make shoes; a third produce wheat; a fourth, bar-iron, &c. &c. and of all these and more, each a quantity, of the articles he produces, beyond his own wants, sufficient for the supply of the wants of others. Here then, is a contract, the fulfilment of which, requires, that each make use of his faculties and resources for the benefit of others. How then shall it be said, as a matter of right, that any one may leave his possessions, or his industry, unproductive? It cannot be. Substantially, every man, upon entering into society, agrees, to make his industry and his property, productive of a superfluity, for the use of [174] others; and others, in like manner, for his use. The obligation on any particular person, is not specific, it is true, as to the objects to which the application of such industry and possession is to be made; and the reason for this, is obvious enough; but it is nevertheless imperious, it is substantial; and for no cause whatever, can it in justice, be suffered to be evaded. This it is, which is the true Social Contract. "You shall supply some one of my wants; I will supply some one of yours;" and so each one speaks to every member of the community. Nor was it ever intended that there should be one among them, who should supply no body's wants; no not even his own. Money is necessary to transfer these supplies, from their producers to their consumers; therefore was it invented and prepared by society; and therefore, also is the purpose for which it was made, a reason sufficient to forbid its destruction or retirement from use.

But if all these arguments are not competent to satisfy any one's doubts, as to the right he may fancy himself to possess, to destroy, for example, a dollar, which he has honestly acquired, let me present him with another. I have supposed, in the formation of the State in question, that a certain quantity of money was created and issued; and that, thereafter, no more was introduced into the community. Whatever the quantity might be, prices would soon find their level, and maintain it, until some cause should disturb it. If we [175] go a step further, and imagine that our State has no connection with any other State or nation, we shall perceive that prices would remain without fluctuation; they would be steady; and being so, circulation would perform the greatest service for the community, and all its members, of which it is capable. Let us now imagine, that some one, secretly and unknown to the government, obtains, it may be, silver quite as pure as that which the government has issued, and makes an amount equal to it, of other coin, so exactly resembling it, that it is not possible to detect any difference. It passes, therefore, as government-coin. What would be the effect of so doing? Would it not transfer, speedily, immense possessions into the hands of such a person? Would it not be precisely the same thing, as if such possessions, were divided off to him in the original instance? Yet, we all know, in the original instance, the great majority of the community, would not suffer such person, or any other, to have them assigned to him. Nor does the real silver, in this case, happen to have an effect, in any manner different, from that which would be produced, by an equally successful imitation of it by some base metal. It may be more rare, more difficult to be obtained, and thus it may be rendered less practicable, clandestinely to increase the circulating medium, but it would not be the less counterfeit, in all the effects which it would produce, and which go to distinguish it from the legitimate coinage, first issued [176] by the government. Nor, is this transfer of possessions, to the spurious and unauthorized manufacturer and issuer of the coin in question, the only evil attendant upon the illegal introduction of it. By continually varying the quantity of the circulating medium from less to more, after prices have once fixed themselves and found their level; it disturbs such level, and brings about, in the minds of the community, a constant uncertainty of price; and this is, always, seriously detrimental to the progress of the labors of industry.

If, then, the addition; the unauthorized addition of coin, which in every other intrinsic requisite, except that it is not issued by the Sovereign Power, is as good as that of the government, produces such effects, what will not be produced by a contrary procedure? Will it not unfix prices, to diminish the circulating medium, as readily, as it will, to augment it? If so, no one can have the right, so to speak, to annihilate his own dollar. It is true, by so doing, he does not, as in the former instance, augment his own possessions; but he diminishes them; and transfers the amount of such diminution to the remainder of the community; and this he has no right to do, more than he has to do the contrary. Justice belongs as much to himself as to another; and he has no better right to be its violator to the injury of himself, than he has to be its violator in the person of another.

If these observations, upon the theory of the [177] operation of money, and, particularly, of augmentations to, and diminutions of, its amount, are well founded; it would seem, that all the governments in the world, if they had truly understood their duties, in relation to it, would have declared the precious metals, wherever found, to be public property. In part, such declarations have been issued, and acted upon; whether from a principle of avarice, or from an enlightened understanding of the propriety of doing so; it is not now worthy of inquiry. Spain, subsequent to her discovery of Mexico and South America, at one time appropriated, to herself, one half of the nett proceeds of all gold and silver mines wrought in these countries; afterwards one third was accepted instead of one half; and ultimately one fifth, at which it continued to remain, until she lost her dominion over them. But the scarcity of these metals, all over the globe, compared with the other metals; the cost, hazard, and uncertainty of working the mines that produce them; the diminutions consequent upon wear, losses in the ocean and other places, where it is irrecoverable; the appropriation of them to purposes of plate, and other utensils; the multiplied demands for them by modern commerce, though a greatly augmented power of production, by means of labor-saving-machines and processes; together with the additional fact, that while the precious metals are increasing, the population of the world is increasing also; all these have conspired to render it impossible, in [178] any period other than a very long one, consisting of some hundred years perhaps, to produce an augmentation of any more than a trifling comparative amount. Had circumstances been otherwise, government would have found it necessary to have interfered; and to have declared, that they belong inalienably to the sovereign authority; and of course, that they were incapable of private appropriation or possession; or to have fixed upon some other material, as the basis of the circulating medium.

It results then from this discussion, that banks even for the safe keeping of coins of gold and silver, for these only are money, are institutions not to be tolerated in any community, unless it be that they be wholly divested of all private control or management; and have over them, officers appointed by the government, as is the case in Amsterdam; whose duty it should be to receive all gold and silver, which any person may wish to leave for safe keeping; to keep it safe; to enter the amount to the credit of such person on the books of the bank; and to pay it, in whole or in part as the case may be, forthwith to his order, or to transfer the credit of its amount, to him who bears the order, on the same books, and for similar purposes. [Hamilton's Report on the subject of the National Bank, 1790, p. 34.]

But we live at present under governments which [179] allow of the receipt of money, for the use of money; in common language, interest. That this is altogether, an injustice done to him who pays it, and a crime in him who receives it, will be evident enough, if it is not so already, in the further progress of this work. But as there are too many who suffer under the grinding oppressions which Banking Institutions are inflicting upon them; and who yet consider, for reasons, which, for the moment are satisfactory to them, that they are a blessing to them, rather than otherwise; and as it is both necessary and proper to undeceive them, it is expedient therefore, to investigate the operation which Banks infallibly have to make worse even the present condition of things.

To understand this operation, we must go back to a period anterior to the creation of any Bank, and compare the state of things then existing to the state subsequent to such creation. If, in that early state, comparatively speaking, (for banks are of quite modern invention, and as far as it regards the greater part of the world, are utterly unknown to them, even now) the rate of interest was allowed to fix itself, as now, in commercial transactions, commodities find their own price; then it would manifestly be an inroad upon the fair principles of trade, to allow the lenders, by means of a charter, or any other process, to combine themselves together, for the purpose of destroying their own competition; and thus enabling them, to obtain more of the borrowers, than they otherwise could. Such [180] a combination I have already shewn, whether with charter for its protection, or without it, is as just a subject for punishment, as would be any similar combination of freighters, bakers, butchers, clothiers, &c.; inasmuch as they are all conspiracies for extorting more from the community than the they could otherwise obtain. In their effects and character, they do not differ from a man who should make a garment at a price, such as equal competition compels him to accept, and who afterwards should way-lay his customer, and with a pistol at his breast, compel him to hand forth as much more as would make him the master of as much money for the making the garment, as he could have obtained by being one of the combination. And as one is punishable, so ought the other to be, in an equal degree.

But Banks exist, as it regards ourselves, in a country where the rate of interest is fixed by law; and where, in name, they do not dare to take more than the legal rate of interest; but where in fact, they do. How is all this accomplished?

It is sometimes attempted by unthinking men, to say, in relation to the interest taken by Banks, that it is not usurious; that it does not exceed the limits of the law. Why then, I ask is a Charter wanted? Is it to allow them to take less? Are the money lenders, when the rate of interest is fixed at, say, seven per cent, apprehensive of insulting the majesty of the law; of trampling upon the rights of others; if they should happen to take three [181] per cent? The matter must be explained on other principles, before an inquiring mind is satisfied.

The truth is, they issue notes or an amount greater than they have gold and silver to redeem with; and yet promise to pay such notes on demand! On these notes which they so issue, they receive interest, as though they actually were so much gold and silver: whereas, if they were called upon to loan this quantity of gold and silver, they would be obliged to say; "We have it not; we have only so much." The usury consists, then, in drawing interest on that which is not money, and is lent; together with that which is both lent, and is real money, in effect; inasmuch as there is specie ready for its redemption.

Thus all the Banks, in the State of Rhode Island, collectively, as appears by some late returns, have lent out, their own notes and have of them, now in circulation to

the amount of - - $887,969.17
Whereas their specie to redeem with, is only - 357,512.07
Thus drawing interest on the sum of - - $530,357.10

more than they actually have it in their power to lend; and of course, more than they have lent.

The banks in the State of Georgia, by some late returns, appear, collectively to have in circulation, and of course are drawing interest upon them.


notes of the amount of $2,243,482.44 While their specie to redeem with is only 662,087.65

Thus in this instance drawing interest on the sum of $1,571,394.79

over and above what the borrowers actually receive at their hands.

The Chemical Bank in this city, presents greater enormities; and the Dry Dock Bank, still greater yet.

The former, that is the Chemical, is drawing interest on notes of its own, lent out to its customers, and which are now in circulation, to the amount of ... $155,164.00

And its specie to redeem with amounts only to 20,094.47

The excess is - - - $135,069.53

The Dry Dock Bank has notes in circulation, on which it is likewise drawing interest, to the amount of - - - $158,100.00

Whereas its redeeming specie is only - - - 8,476.55

Leaving an excess of - - $149,623.45

Who is it, that would not understand this usury, if it were presented to him, in the following manner? [183] That is: let him go in the name and behalf of the whole community, and borrow, of the Dock Bank, their $8,476, and 55 cents in specie, and give his note for the return of it at a future day; and another note also for the payment of interest, not on the specie borrowed, but on a greater sum, in paper, in promises; a sum amounting to $158,100. As it regards all the interest which the Bank would have in such a transaction, it would be altogether a matter of indifference, with them, whether the paper, the promises, or any part of them were ever taken out of the Bank at all, or not. They, on $8,476, and 55 cents, would receive the interest which would become due, on $158,100; more than eighteen times the amount of money, which they actually lend! Thus, while this company is doing a portion of the ordinary business of life, connected with the commercial marine of the country, and so far as this goes, performing the duty, and nothing more than the duty of good, and useful citizens, on the one hand, yet on the other, they are receiving over 18 times the legal interest on a sum of gold and silver which they happen to have in their possession!

Let him go in the same way to the Chemical Bank, and on their $20,094 and 47cts. in gold and silver, pay the interest, (more than seven times what it should be,) accruing on $155,164. Let him borrow of the Banks of Georgia, their specie $672,087 and 65cts: but pay them interest on more than three times its amount; say, on, [184] $2,243,482 and 44cts. Let him last of all proceed to Rhode Island and borrow their specie: say $357,612 and 7cts. and paying interest on $887,969 and 17cts. come home again, and ask himself, if he does not understand how this usury is obtained?

It would be no denial of all this usury, to say that no one is obliged to pay it. As long as it is paid or received, usury exists. And, besides, it is a compulsory usury; inasmuch as all the money of the community, that is the gold and silver, is in the hands of these incorporations, or nearly so: and there are but two things to be done; one is to go without money altogether, resorting to barter again; and the other is, to take the false money with the genuine, and pay interest on both.

And now that he has done all this; let him reflect that it is precisely the course a private usurer pursues, when he wishes to obtain more interest than the law allows him; except, that two notes are drawn instead of one. He gives for example, his thousand dollars in gold and silver; and takes, privately and secretly takes, in the absence of all witnesses, a note of the borrower, for some twelve or fifteen hundred; as may be agreed on; paying interest on the whole. It matters not to the merit of the question, in what form or shape it is accomplished. The same effect being produced, the same character attaches. Nor does it alter any thing, to say that the private [185] usurer's note, which he receives of his borrower, does not enter into circulation. For the public good, it is not necessary; although, even for that, its intrinsic worth is such, as equally to entitle it. Without it, and without also, any of the notes now in circulation, suns would rise and set; the wants of hunger and thirst be satisfied; all the transactions of man, would go on, as well without, as with them; and the proof of this, is, that before Banks existed, such was the fact; and that where Banks do not exist, such is the fact now. A Bank, therefore, which lends more of money, than it actually has, or pretends to do so, for it is of such Banks that I complain even as regards the present condition of things, is actually contravening all laws which go to restrain usury; and ought to be punished, and have its charter broken.

But, the want of circulation, need not be an objection to the private usurer's transaction being considered as of the same character, with the transactions of ordinary Banking. Let now, a Bank be supposed to be authorized, the Chemical Bank, for example, to take its $20,094 and 47cts. in specie, and add thereto enough of base metal, to make of it, an amount equal to their notes in circulation, to wit, $155,164. Let these be lent to the Community; let interest be paid on the counterfeit dollars; let them circulate from and to hand; and, the effect is precisely the same as the present paper system of Banking. [186] In both these cases it is expected, and the result is almost uniformly so, that the borrowers bring them in again, and pay the interest thereon; and there is no occasion for the issuers, to provide good money with which to exchange them, on demand, if it were even to be admitted they had the ability to do so. Here, also, usury is as plain as the sun at noon-day; and here, there is no want of circulation.

Besides, a word more may be added as to this matter, of the circulation of Bank notes; since the apologists of Banking Institutions, when hard pressed for argument, do not fail to resort to it. Let it be understood, then, that interest is not paid to them for their notes, merely because they are circulated; but, because they are loaned. The borrower may, if he pleases, lock them up in his bureau; but the Bank of whom he borrowed them, will nevertheless, demand their interest. Besides, if any one is to be paid any thing on account of the circulation of the notes; it is the borrower who is to receive it, and not the Institution of whom he borrowed: for, he it is who circulates them; and who borrowed them for that very purpose. Otherwise, he would not have borrowed them at all.

But, some are ready to say: "well, it is in part as you represent; but, may not a Bank loan out its credit, and draw interest on that?" I answer, no. But if one Bank, or one person, is entitled to draw interest on credit, so also, does the right [187] to do so, belong to another. Now, if John Jacob Astor, who is able, any day, to buy five Banks like the Chemical, should go to it, and say, "lend me $155,164;" there is no doubt, they would accommodate him; that is, they would lend him their notes; and he, in return, would give them his note, payable at a future day. Now, I ask, why should not John Jacob Astor, receive interest on the note which he gives to the Bank, as well as pay interest, on the notes they give him? Because, it is said, they are payable on demand. So far as $20,094 and 47cts, will go, they are; but no farther; all else is simply a promise to pay on demand; but a promise, likewise, which can never be realized; and, therefore, a false promise. It is manifestly a false promise, inasmuch as, if the same demand were made on all the Banks, at one and the same time, they could not help one another, to make good the promises of any one of them; and for the single reason that the enemy would be at their own doors too. If, therefore, there is any good reason why John Jacob Astor should not receive interest, on all but the $20,094 and 47cts. it is certainly, because of this false promise; for a true one, it never can, and never was intended to be.

So the laborer, for example, or any one else who should have transactions with him, to whom John Jacob Astor should give one or more of these paper dollars, in payment for some service: might say, "Sir, this is not money; it is only a [188] promise of money; it is something to which I may give the credit of its being money; but nevertheless, until I have it actually converted into money, I expect interest in return, to be allowed to me on its amount." No one could object to the propriety of this expectation. For as John Jacob Astor pays extravagant and usurious interest to the Chemical Bank; so all who transact any money business with him, must expect to pay a portion of it. If they do not then, John Jacob must pay it all; and in this event, he would not long remain solvent; he must soon become reduced to poverty. It is thus we see how every man is made to pay a share of this usury.

It is evident, therefore, in whatever view we contemplate Banking operations; that they aggravate the evils of the present system of things; and that of course, they are more particularly to be excluded from admission into any system which looks, in the first place, to the propriety of giving to all men, their equal share of the property of the State; in the second place, to the transmission of the same equal share to posterity; and in the third, to their preservation from all disturbing causes. A State-Convention, therefore, would have the power of expunging all permission to any Legislature to erect any chartered corporation within the limits of the State.

It may be said that the exception I make to all Chartered Corporations, would go to divest even our City Corporations, of the power, of repairing [189] our streets, or even locating a lamp-post. There is no doubt very great propriety, in hesitating to give any such body any considerable exercise of power. If it had not been felt to be so, our State Authorities would have given to our Common Council, the power to have collected taxes, from the citizens; to cut through private property for the purpose of making new streets; and to have done many other things, which they cannot now do, without first obtaining the consent of the State Authority. Our Common Council, now, in all the most important subjects of legislation, is nothing more than a large committee, as it were, appointed by our citizens, to investigate public affairs; to report what is or is not expedient to be done; and to ask of the public power, to give to their requests, their approbation. That they may yet have too much power in their hands, for the public good, I do not doubt. But the view I have been taking of Charters, is of a description dissimilar to these. It was, of Charters, which undertake to give exclusive privileges that I spoke, and not of those which delegate, as it were, to a County, that portion of the Sovereign Power, which takes due care of the roads passing through it, &c. &c. though even, here, care should be taken that such delegation be very limited and judicious. I even venture to hazard an opinion, though I have not I confess, reflected very maturely on the subject, that it would be quite as beneficial under certain circumstances, to maintain the Legislature in [190] perpetual session, to dispose of even all our County matters; as it is to have them managed as they now are. I know, it would be objected that they could never have time. Nor indeed, would they, if a whole winter's Session, were to be absorbed by discussions on Bank Bills -- and such other subjects as are intended to give exclusive privileges: -- But if these, which absorb so very great a portion of the public time, were by our State Constitution to be interdicted, even from discussion there, as it is very proper they should be, the case would be very different.

In relation to Charters, Mr. Paine says,

"It is a perversion of terms to say, that a Charter gives rights. It operates by a contrary effect, that of taking rights away. Rights are inherently in all the inhabitants; but charters, by annulling those rights in the majority, leave the right by exclusion in the hands of a few. If charters were constructed so as to express in direct terms, that every inhabitant who is not a member of a corporation, shall not exercise the right of voting; such charters, would in the face be charters, not of rights, but of exclusion. The effect is the same under the form they now stand; and the only persons on whom they operate, are the persons whom they exclude. Those whose rights are guaranteed, by not being taken away, exercise no [191] other rights, than as members of the community they are entitled to without a Charter; and, therefore, all charters have no other than an indirect negative operation." [Rights of Man, page 202 vol. 2, of his Works, published in Philadelphia, 1797.]

I may apply these remarks and illustrate them by examples very near home. The Brooklyn Ferry Boats or rather their owners, by means of their Charter, prevent others from carrying passengers; whereas they could and would do it, without obstruction, and at a cheaper rate; but for this Charter. The New-York Gas Light Company, supply gas-light to citizens, within certain limits, and have a charter to prevent any one else from doing it within such limits; although but for this, the consumers of that article, would be furnished with it, for less money. The Dry Dock Bank has, among others, an exclusive right to combine for the purpose of drawing interest, at the rate of one hundred and twenty or thirty per cent per annum, upon its gold and silver money, while private persons cannot combine, and can only receive seven per cent. Nor can this institution pretend that it is justly invested with that portion of the Sovereignty of the State, which resides in the mint, even supposing our State Government to have any sovereignty in the matter at all; because to furnish the community with a paper, medium in this way, even allowing the State, for its own sake, to desire such medium, is to do it under circumstances, which give one lender of money only seven per cent. per annum, and another, one hundred and [192] twenty or thirty; a feature of injustice, which goes at once to declare the Charter null and void. Besides, if we ask this company, what is the consideration on which they pretend they have the right to draw from this Community, interest on a gratuitous and false sum of nearly $150,000; what will they say? Why, that in order to make these notes for the benefit of the community as they are falsely pretended to be, they have gone in the first instance to the enormous expense, in paper, plates, &c. &c, of $2,776, and 32 cents, with, in addition, a few annual contingencies; and that for this, they are to receive, by way of interest, above $10,000 a year, forever! [See their Report made to the Legislature, lately, where their contingencies are put down at $1,730, and 77 cents, and the other item as above.]

It is against Charters such as this, that my remarks have been directed; and not against City or County Corporations; which being confined within very narrow limits, are meant to act on subjects of general interest; and never on those of private and personal concern; though, as said before, even this is not to be done, if the sovereign Power, can as conveniently do it, in its own right and action; and such will probably be the case, whenever men shall have been made equal, as well in property as in other things; for then, will any and all perceive that it would be, even if they desired it, out of their power to obtain the wealth of [193] others by any indirect exertion, and of course the time of our Legislatures, would not be taken up as is now, in discussing subjects; which could not then be allowed to result in any ultimate existence. All incipient operations, for improper objects, and the time they now consume, would therefore, be superseded by occupations directed to honest and useful legislation. And it can scarcely, I think, be doubted, that our Legislative agents, would then find time enough to do, all that is wanted to be done. Government would then be a plain thing, as Swift says, and fitted to the capacity of many heads.

Nor can it be said, I apprehend, that because I allow ten or twenty men, as the case may be, to own a ship, or a steamboat jointly, that I contradict my own arguments, against the propriety of allowing charters of incorporation. These associations, it will be said, are essentially institutions of that description. This, however, is a mistake. In the first place, if we are to have an equal possession of property, at all, in what may be called the morning of life, it will happen, that we must own property jointly on many occasions, or cease to have, existing among us, many kinds of property, which we now consider as of the utmost importance. It results, then, of necessity, that these Associations should exist. And, of the kind I am now speaking of, a Dry Dock, such as has a Bank Charter attached to it, and whose operations, in this city, I have made the subject of observation. [194] is an example. All that we have to do, in grafting these small associations into our political fabric, is to see, that we obtain all the good effects we desire of them, and that we take care that they produce injury to no one.

And in relation to the necessity of owning many kinds of property jointly, through the agency of Associations; it may not be without its use, before going any farther, to remark, that there is, perhaps, no kind of business now carried on in human society, in which the number of persons employed therein, would not possess, if the proposed new order of things was established, a sufficiency of property to make themselves, the owners of all that is necessary to carry it on. Thus, a ship has such a number of men, that they, with their amount of property, would be able to purchase and own it. A steam-boat, would, most likely be in the same situation; more particularly if all the persons who are immediately connected with it, by their daily occupations were taken into the account. The Dry Dock, already referred to, often employing its hundred men and more, would be in the same situation. A ship-yard also, and so of large mercantile establishments, with their clerks, porters, and cartmen, and of any other pursuit. And it will not fail to add strength to this opinion, to reflect that the wives of all these men will possess as much of property as their husbands, and that this doubles the amount. The persons following any of these various employments; would [195] most naturally and rationally invest their property, where they meant to exert their industry. And as it is, more or less, necessary, in all pursuits conducted through the aid of Association, that there should be a Principal, a Manager, an Agent, a Captain, &c. &c. these will all be selected by such Association; obey its instructions; and be subject to be superseded by better men, whenever they shall disobey them. I return now to the political features of these Associations.

In contemplating their character, we are to consider them, as having two relations; one with themselves individually; another, as acting on, and acted upon by, the community, in which they exist. First, that the Community, or any portion thereof, may receive no injury from them, they are not to be too numerous; that is to say; if the wants of this City, required the use of two dry docks; the same association should not be authorized to own them both. I know there are many who will object to such restrictions on property held by associations; but, if such persons will consider, that by allowing them to hold property, without limit, it would, in fact, be authorizing all bakers, for example, to associate their business under the control of one common head and direction; and thus to combine to fix the price of bread; it will be obvious, that such unnecessarily large associations, would be adverse to the interests of society. These remarks will apply also, to all other occupations; and, if they [196] were to be allowed at all, would lead to reprisals by one occupation upon another, extending in their operation, even into new aggressions upon the community. If two or more, dry docks were wanted in this City, as already supposed, there should be two or more associations. Nor should the members thereof, so far be composed, of the same individuals, as that the operations of the two or more associations could he controlled or governed by them. Nor, would it be allowable, on the supposition that they were composed in whole or in part of different individuals, to come into any understanding, or contract, therefore, as to prices, to be charged or received by either, from their customers. To suffer a contrary course of proceeding, would be to subject the community, to all the evils arising from conspiracy or combination.

Secondly, these associations must not injure the public by their debts. Every member must be answerable to the full extent of all his property, for the debts contracted on account of the association. But, if a member contract debts, in his own behalf, and not for the objects of the association, only his share or interest in the association is made responsible for their payment. The other members of the association, are to be kept harmless of him.

Thirdly, as it regards the members of the Association internally, that is, among themselves the majority is to respect the rights of the minority; [197] if they do not; the Great Common Authority, that presides over all, will have the proper power to require it at their hands; and so of any member.

Organized in this manner, associations could not fail to be productive of all the good effects which we might have a right to expect of them, and to be divested of all the evils that an abuse of power might be fraught with. Sale would be made of the entire property of an association, whenever all the shares were purchased; and to do this, would require the consent of each and every member. Majorities could not make transfer; they could only direct the method of employing, and using the property, and this only, with strict regard to the rights of all, and subject to the supervision, whenever any one of the association should require it, of the supreme power.

The present Constitution, is objectionable on another ground. It undertakes to give privileges, and inflict disqualifications on religious considerations. It is necessary, therefore, that a new State-Convention to remodel it, in this respect, should be assembled. If there is any propriety m considering all mankind as equal in the estimation of the Creator who made all, it is certainly of importance, that the work of man, for such is government, should not contradict this equality. He who causes "rain to fall on the just, and on the unjust," who has made this earth alike for all, could not certainly, be expected to sanction such a [198] constitution of government, as on the one hand, would give to every man his equal share in the property of the globe on which he dwells; and on the other; take it away by the operation of exemption from contribution, and equal contribution, too, to the public wants of that very community, which guarantees to him the possession of his just rights in society. In a community of men of equal possessions, and who hold them by rights inherent in their very existence, how absurd, how revolting it would be, to see a Constitution, as the present one does, speaking of exempting men of a certain description, from bearing arms; and of paying an equivalent to the State in money! In the name of all that humanity can invoke, what is the sum which is the equivalent for life and blood? How strangely, how shockingly perverted does the human understanding exhibit itself, when such a comparative appreciation of money on the one hand, with life on the other, is found on the pages of the Constitution of a free people!

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in all this business, is this: That there is no natural reason why any particular person should receive his equal portion of this world's property, in any particular section of it, in the State of New-York, for example, more than elsewhere: but, or the other hand, there is no natural or reasonable power to forbid his proportion being given to him here, provided he is willing to do his equal share of public duty, in kind and quantity, in treasure and danger. [199] Otherwise there is. Otherwise there would be hazard of injury, even to subjugation, not only to him who fails in this duty, but also to all others. These others, therefore, have manifestly the right to expel him from their society, who will not contribute to the public defence with his blood, if need be, and to associate with them, another in his place, who will. They possess this right, on the principle of self-defence. And, if on the same principle of self-defence, against a foreign enemy, a man is unwilling from any motive, to fight for his property and his liberty, he cannot have much cause to complain that his countrymen have dispossessed him, and ordered him out of the country, before the enemy has had time or an opportunity to do it, for him. To him it can make little difference, by whom the deed is done. He who will not defend his property; and in such manner as the government of his country prescribes, has abandoned it already. Tell us not of the rights of conscience. He has no conscience, who, in the first place, would abandon that which is truly his own to the invader, and then, after it has been defended against the enemy, by the blood of others, would come and claim it again! He has no conscience, who desires to hold his own at the expense of the blood and treasure of another; and is of course entitled to no other treatment under the laws than that which is meted out to every other citizen.

Inasmuch, therefore, as the principle of equality [200] is to be preserved at all hazards, no man is to be suffered to remain a citizen of the State, who contravenes that equality, by refusing to do his duty, in a point so essentially important as that of the public defence.

It is the same principle of equality also, which forbids another to be ineligible to, or incapable of holding, any civil or military office or place, within the State. Of what avail is it to say, "that by his profession, he is dedicated to the service of God and ought not to be diverted from the great duties of his function?" [See Constitution of this State, Article VII. Sec. IV.] Legislation has nothing to do with men's motives. It makes no inquiry into their speculative opinions. It is directed to promote the public welfare, by preserving their equal right to the reception of property, in the first instance, and to its preservation afterwards, and to the preservation also of the equality of personal rights. Yet how is this equality to be maintained, if, in time of peace, in order to qualify myself to be useful in time of war, I must, at my own expense, give up five days of the year, in disciplining myself in the art of war; while another, who is, and calls himself a priest, is wholly exonerated from performing a similar service? Undoubtedly, it will be admitted, that he is a good citizen, and that all are good citizens, who thus qualify themselves for the public defence, when the public [201] exigency requires it. Is it to be said, then, that, any man shall be exempted from a necessity thus to perform the duty of a good citizen? And in justification of such an exemption, shall it be said that the "service of God," or any other unmeaning term, requires it? Inasmuch as all men are equal; if the "service of God" is to exonerate one citizen from the performance of any public duty no matter what it may be; so will it exonerate another, and so will it exonerate all. A priest is but a man; his duties to God and to man, are the same as those of other men; neither more, nor less; he, therefore, is entitled to have measured out to him, the same law of eternal and immutable justice. Beside, if religion were not wholly a private and personal affair; if it were not as it is, a matter between man and the Being, who, he believes, has made him, and in which government has no concern; either to favor the priest or otherwise; or in which it has no right to interfere, in anyway, manner, or shape, whatever, farther than to require of him also the fulfilment of his duties as a citizen; I might easily ask, what is meant by the "service of God?". If the expression were applied to man, I should readily understand it. I should understand as any and every man does, that such "service" was something, whereby the man profited; whereby he benefited; by which his condition was made better. But, how are we to understand it now? Is a priest capable of making better the condition of the Almighty? Is the [202] Supreme Being to receive benefaction from the work of his own hands? I am pursuaded the weakness of no human being, is so great as to admit of any such absurdity. And if it be said, that it is meant that the condition of man, that is, the priest himself, is to be made better, then is it quite another affair, and is no more entitled to consideration, than is any and every other avocation, of any and every other man in society. If, therefore, any man must discipline himself in the art of war, so must the priest; if any man must march out to battle and to death, in his country's service, so must the priest; and every other citizen. There must and can be no exemption. The equal rights of all require it, and the private wishes of a few, cannot be allowed to evade it.

So much as regards the military. As regards ineligibility of the priest, to civil office, it is a disqualification which operates as an oppression upon him. It is manifestly unjust. Nor does it pluck out the sting of injustice, to say, that priests do not desire it. History shews abundantly, that the time has been, when they did. Besides, let us look around us, among the nations, now, and see, if we can find no priests exercising civil power. Nor is this all. By the presence of such a disqualifying clause in the constitution, the people, the Sovereign People, are prevented from choosing a priest for their civil officer, even, although ninety-nine men in every hundred should desire it. Claiming to be supreme over their own [203] affairs, they have yet fettered their own supremacy, so as in this instance, to render it nugatory. These fetters present an extraordinary appearance. They do, in so many words, declare that the people, being fully free, and having all power in their own hands; yet nevertheless, dare not allow themselves to exercise it, without restrictions. This is not true freedom. Men should be bolder. And, when they are truly free, they will be. If there be a class among us, who inspire awe and terror, whenever it is supposed they may aspire to the possession of office; it is time, high time to dissipate such awe and terror, by coming into collision with those, who are the objects of it, as often as possible, at elections and elsewhere. And this is the only way; at least, it is a very efficient way, in which it can be done. If clerical gentlemen should be ambitious of civil honors; give them the opportunity, for it is their right; and my word for it, in a few years, they will lose whatever of undue influence, deference, and respect which a blind attachment to them now, on the part of many, is frequently disposed to accord to them. If they should not desire office, the restriction now existing would be of no avail.

Nor, should it be said, after all, that the priest and the community are about equal; that the disqualification for civil office, balances the exemption from military contribution of personal service. This equality is not to be presumed; and, for the obvious reason, that it cannot be [204] known. Besides, it is not the business of government, to make a traffic, or a system of exchange in rights of any kind. Each is entitled to all and every that belongs to him, and cannot, by any operation that is just or equitable, be forced into a system of barter.

It is proper to abolish the State Senate. Two Legislative Bodies having a negative upon each other, in the enactment, modification, or repeal of laws, present the extraordinary phenomenon, in a government that pretends to consist in the will of a majority, of contradicting this will, in their Halls of Legislation. One, and it may be, the larger body, may give its every vote, in favor of any measure, and yet a majority-fraction of the smaller body, (the Senate) defeats it altogether! The will of the smaller party of the whole number of Legislators, is made to be superior to the will of the greater party! It is time to expunge such an enormity from our Constitution. In no case, may the minority rule; either to defeat the enactment of a new law, or to prevent the repeal or modification of an old one! Both cases frustrate the public will, as well by a negative as a positive action; and the one is no more to be tolerated, in a country where equal rights are intended to be preserved, than the other. Besides, how extremely ridiculous does it appear in a community of citizens, to appoint agents to manage their public concerns, and then order them so to conduct themselves, as that they may not be able to enact [205] the very laws, which, if they were submitted to them, in the first instance, the people themselves would be sure to adopt! Not less so, however, than it would be, for a government to send two sets of Ambassadors to a foreign nation, with orders to each to make such a treaty as it should think proper, and then to return, with the result of their negotiations. If they should happen to be alike; a treaty is made, that is to have effect; otherwise, it is to be a mere nullity. Nations do not conduct in this manner, in their intercourse with each other. Nor should they with themselves.

I do not stop to answer a multitude of reasons as they are called, that have been offered for contravening the great principle, that a majority is to govern. This great principle being preserved, preserves to man the means of defending his rights: without it they depart immediately, and leave him a slave to others, beyond the hope of redemption. Renounce the rule, for once; and calls will never cease to be made for more renunciations -- till at last it will come to this, that a single individual shall govern the whole human race at his absolute will and pleasure. There will be no permanent medium. It will be in vain to say that the people appoint all; and that therefore, they are safe. It is not so, especially under the present condition of things. For after they have so chosen their Legislators; there is among us a class of Aristocrats, who have the means of [206] corrupting them -- which they do not fail to use: -- and every one sees that it is easier to corrupt a few, than it would be a greater number. If it be said that in single Halls of Legislation, majorities are sometimes too hasty and inconsiderate; it is admitted. That is, the fact is admitted, but not the inference. Whole communities, particularly at periods of election, become excited -- and under the influence of the excitement, often do that, which in their better and cooler judgment they would not have done. Yet what a strange remedy, for the evils growing out of such excitement, would it not be, to provide for the division of the whole mass of voters into two classes -- one very large perhaps, and the other very small -- with a negative on each other! In such an event would it ever be possible to choose a public officer at all? This would be ruling by minority with a vengeance! But still, not more so, than as at present happens.

But at the same time that single Halls of Legislation, may be occasionally too hasty and inconsiderate; they may also be corrupt. Both would be offences, injurious to their constituents; but let them be ready to give an account of their conduct, and to receive the measure of disapprobation or punishment which that conduct merits. It is the apprehension that the Legislator must meet this responsibility, that is the true corrective of the evil complained of; and not the oversetting the fundamental principle, that a majority is to govern in all cases whatever. [207]

Distributed as property now is, and ever has among mankind, it has been a matter of much indifference with men having none, who were the judges appointed to administer the laws, in relation to it; who appointed them; what was their term of office; or what were the principles of law, by which they were guided in their administration. In a new state of things, such as that I now contemplate, this indifference vanishes. All men having an equal amount of property, especially at their first entrance into mature life, will have an equal interest in all these questions. The appointment of judges of every kind, will therefore, of course, be ordered to emanate, directly from the people without the intervention of any appointing power, as is now practised; they will be limited to short and stated periods of service; and will adopt principles of law, in their administration, which shall be furnished to them, by the community, and drawn from the elements of their political edifice, instead of being borrowed as now from the usages of barbarous and stranger nations. To effect this reformation, in connection with the many others which I have already mentioned, it will be necessary if my propositions are ever to be acted upon by the people of this State, to assemble a new State-Convention.

So much have I offered, in justification of the necessity of calling a State-Convention, as a previous step, in any attempt which may be made in our State-government, to give to every man his [208] equal share of the property within our limits. It has necessarily occupied many pages, and required much of the time and attention of the reader. But I trust it has nor been without profit. If ever an equal division of the whole effects of this State, is to be made among the citizens; and if ever the succeeding generation is to be allowed to have their proportion, as they come to years of maturity, as it is their equal right they should; it is only to be done so as to be of any value, or importance to them and to us, by shutting out the operation of all those causes, which would go to destroy such equal division almost as soon as it was made; and which even in the present condition of things, is constantly tending to aggravate, the inequality of property at present existing. As, on some occasion, Mr. Pitt, [See "Mr. Paine's Letter to Mr. Secretary Dundas." Paine's Works, vol. 2, p. 327.] in his ill humor, observed of the duration of republican government, founded upon the principles of the rights of man, that if such a government were erected at noon; it would be dissolved before night; so also would it be with the equal rights of property: if division were made at noon, it would be disturbed and destroyed before night; if the destroying agents of charter, monopoly, privilege, ruling by minority instead of majority; &c. &c., were not first put out of existence. [209]

The reader will bear in mind, that I am offering my sentiments, and propositions to his consideration, on the supposition that he is desirous to come at the truth, and to receive and adopt it, however much it may be at war with his present opinions. If he be not possessed of this candor of disposition, it will be well for him to know, that a majority of mankind are; and that if they shall believe after having heard me through, and understood me, that I have marked out the path that leads to their happiness, and to the greatest happiness of which they are susceptible; they have the power to enforce his submission to the adoption of a system, which he has not the honesty to treat with the candor which justice demands at his hands. It will be of little use, then, for such person, or any other, to object to an equal division of property and to support the objection, after the manner of Mr. Pitt, by any ill-natured remark, such as that if, at noon, it were so divided, even upon principles, as perfect as I, or any one else can find it in my or his power to name or to wish, it would be unequal before night; and thence to make the inference that such a division ought not to be made at all. The time has been, and now is, in many countries, where by the law of the land, the oldest son inherits the whole of his father's estate, with an unimportant exception; his brothers and sisters receiving nothing. In this country, where wills do not otherwise order, the whole estate, real and personal, is divided equally [210] among sons and daughters. Might not the same man who objects to my proposition for an equal division of property, among all, object also to this equal division of the father's property among the sons and daughters? Might he not say, with equal truth, that if it were so equally divided, at noon, it would be unequal before night; and thence infer, that such an equal division ought not to be made? Might he not as truly say, that it was manifestly better to give it, all at once, to the oldest son, and leave the rest of the family, in poverty, and dependance upon their older brother?

There has been a time in the history of this country, and that not very far distant, when the eldest son, received a double portion? Would not the same argument apply here? Since property, according to the estimation of some who pretend to understand this subject, has a natural tendency to inequality; therefore, it would be better to leave this oldest son, in possession of this double share of his father's estate, than it would be to divide it among all his children equally. According to this doctrine, it is right to promote and increase the action of what it is thought impossible to prevent. Thus if murder sometimes happens, it is argued that it arises from some natural and original tendency which government, it is pretended has no power to prevent? The argument goes to say, that government should increase the commission of this crime as much as possible. So, because, in the opinion of any one, no matter how [211] he has imbibed such opinion; no matter whether such an opinion be well or ill founded; I say, because such person thinks that property naturally tends, under any, and all circumstances, to inequality; therefore, it is correct to make such inequality, or suffer such inequality, (for it is the same thing) to be, as great as possible. Thus, you must not only give to the oldest son, twice as much as to any other son or daughter, but you must give him the whole; and to carry out the argument, since among all the oldest sons to be found in any country, at any one time, there is the same natural tendency to inequality among them, even if they were all equal, it would be equally proper to select some one of these oldest sons, perhaps the oldest among them, and give him all that belongs to the whole fraternity. Thus should we see the beauty of an argument like this! The whole world, on this principle, would come into the possession of one man: and he would be the owner of his fellows, just as now any man may own a tree that grows upon his soil!

It is, therefore, manifestly unjust, to object to an equal division of property, where there is a system accompanying it also, for its equal transmission to every individual of every succeeding generation, on any such ground as this. Besides, it goes upon the supposition that this supposed tendency is a fact. It assumes, that, under the new system, the same causes would exist, which in the old systems have produced inequality, and [212] would likewise continue to produce and promote it in the new. If the objector and myself are to be considered, as looking upon this inequality as an evil, and one which ought to be remedied; then a few plain questions, being answered between us, settles the matter in this point of view for ever. If property be distributed equally among the children of any father; is it not much more probable that it will remain and continue equal, than that it could be made equal afterwards, if it be distributed unequally in the first instance? On the one hand, depressed by poverty and its ten thousand attendant evils, is it to be hoped, is it to be expected, is it to be believed, that these non-proprietors, can ever acquire property? As a body, they never can. One or two in a thousand, may; and even these, more frequently than otherwise, by way of a sort of exchange. Thus the foolish habits, and ignorance of the rich on the one hand, and the arts of knavery on the other, which the designing practice upon men who come into the hereditary possession of estates, are made effectual, sometimes to transfer these estates, to those who have little or nothing; but still the inequality exists. There is a change only as to those who are the.proprietors, and those who are not. If then, by making property unequal, in families, it has been found, that an immense majority of such families continue to be poor, and miserable for ever; was it not a very important improvement in legislation, which ordered property to be [213] divided equally among all a father's children, where he had not ordered otherwise? Are not such families, the oldest sons, as well as others, much more happy, under such a distribution, than they were under a system, where the principle of equally did not prevail. If any one doubts, let him ask himself, if he would consent, to bring back the old condition of things, if it were proposed to do so? Would he say that the oldest son, once more, should have all? Would he say, that he should have a double portion? Would he or she say, that the sons, equally, should have two shares, and the daughters only one? The oldest son, where he had an interest to do so, might say it, but what would be the opinion of the others? If property, being unequally distributed, produces so much injury as it is known to do, it is because, it is unequal; and not because any particular person is to have the larger portion or the whole. Thus in the supposed proposal to bring back the ancient condition of things, wherein one should have all, or more than any other, if it were to be determined by lottery, who such particular person should be, to be drawn after they had resolved upon dividing estates upon the ancient unequal principles in question, it is very certain, that the old system, would not be suffered to be disturbed. It would rest in peace; for men, as they now understand their rights and their happiness, would not consent to bring it again into existence.

The universal sentiment of mankind is opposed [214] to inequality, as well in property as in other things. Never, since man has existed, has there been found a human being, who has thought that an equal share with his fellow-beings, was likely to be, or by any possibility could be, an injury to him. Not one of all those persons who have received their equal share of their father's estates since the laws have been altered so as to admit of it, can be found, or has ever been known, to consider such equal portion given to him, as adverse to his rights or his happiness. No such person has ever thought that it could be opposed to either, and has, therefore, sought to preserve, and add to the patrimonial gift, rather than to throw it away, as a curse to him. All this, is evidence of the deep importance of equality, to all who are permitted to partake of it. It is unimpeachable evidence, inasmuch, as if any such person had existed, who supposed this equal share of property to be an injury to him, he had in his own hands the remedy. He had only, freely and immediately to give it away, without receiving any return therefor. Nor since the existence of man, has there ever been a time or a place, where such gift could not find acceptance.

I know, very well, that there will not be wanting thoughtless, as well as captious men, who will contradict these positions. They will tell me, that every day and every where, there may be found men, who will confess, that the giving to them, their natural share of property, would be [215] an injury to them. And they will endeavour to convince me of the truth of this confession, by saying, that such are their habits, of intemperance, perhaps, that whether they accept it or not, it would be better for them not to possess property than otherwise. But, such persons deceive themselves. It is not the property that would injure them, but the habits which the vicious system of inequality in which they live, has impressed upon their feelings. Let these habits be eradicated, and it will then be evident, that the objection rests on a foundation which cannot support it.

In the multitude of objections which will be raised against the introduction of the system which this work presents to the consideration of my fellow-citizens and others, there will be one like this.

"The present distribution is good enough; it is better than any other; inasmuch as it is necessary, even for the poor, that there should be both rich and poor in society; and that if it be ordered otherwise, the work of society cannot go on, as prosperously as it does now, and of course, the whole community will be sufferers. That the evil which we think we are laboring under, is imaginary; that our actual and common sufferings will be greater, after the proposed change than they are now; and that it will be better, therefore, to leave things as they are now, than it would be to alter them, &c. &c."

Let those who shall make such objection take consolation. Although the system I have marked [216] out, (See PLAN, Article, 18, p. 143) forbids any one to give away his property to another, under high and severe penalties; for reasons which, if they are not already apparent, will be made so, in the progress of this Work; yet, the State itself, may, if it pleases, after a General Division has been made, consent to accept his patrimony from any citizen who shall declare that he feels it to be a burthen to him, and an injury to the State! If a number of men can be found to do the same, such as to be equal to the number of men without property now existing among us, then there can be no fear but that the State, under its new organization, can and may derive all the advantages which any community can be supposed to derive, from having in its bosom such a numerous class, of poor, dependant, and wretched human beings! It will besides, have this additional advantage; that, in the case we are supposing, the poor, will be poor of choice; they will be volunteers; patriots in the cause of their own happiness, and that of their common country; and, of course, reconciled, contented and happy. If they are not so, it will be their own fault. Nor, is it by any means impossible for government to be able to accept these patrimonies, if they should be so offered! Canals, Roads, Bridges, Public Works, of every description, will ever be wanted as long as the State shall exist; and these could be carried to such an extent, as to absorb all that could possibly be presented to it, in this way? If it [217] should turn out, that a sufficient number of men after a General Division had been made, should be of opinion that such a dispossession, by themselves, of their own patrimony, would be beneficial to themselves, and the community; such as to amount to the number mentioned; it would not indeed, prove the doctrine maintained to be false; but it would be evidence, very strong, that its correctness was very much to be doubted! Still, however, if a majority should not happen to be on the side, of thus voluntarily creating an extensive class of poor men, and should prefer, as far as themselves are concerned, that equality of property should prevail; whatever the minority might be, they could still consult their own views and feelings without in the slightest degree being opposed by the majority; and, we should have the uncommon phenomenon of a majority and a minority, in a republic, agreeing to differ, and still acting in perfect accordance with the views of each!

Let the rich man, therefore, console himself; for he it is, I presume, if there shall be any one, who will object to the equal participation by all in the property of the State; I say, let him console himself that in the new order of things, he will have abundant opportunity, voluntarily to taste the sweets of poverty and dependance, if there be any such; and to recommend them to others by his own experience. Indeed, it occurs that even now, it would be well, among all who shall object, on [218] this account, to the introduction of this system, if some one would give us an example, in his own person, of such an act of self dispossession. There is no law to prohibit it; nor any difficulty in finding those who will receive property thus tendered to them. Let the rich man, now, if he will, give up his property to some one of his fellow-citizens, a poor man I should prefer; and let them both make an experiment; one to say how much of evil there is, at least, in a competence; and the other, how much of good, in entire destitution and poverty. Let them do this; and I engage to believe that one of them will not fail to be the wiser for it.

It necessarily follows, that objections of a great diversity of character, will present themselves to persons of very honest views, as well as others, to the proposition to equalize all property in the State among its citizens; and a prominent one, among the number will be, that if it be made equal to day; the jack-tar, and the son of the richest man in Broadway, will have equal portions; and, that they will both go, in the prodigality of habits, in which a most pernicious system of government has educated them, and squander them forthwith, and thus again reduce themselves to poverty. Of what use, then, would it be, say a multitude of men, who are more ready to look for objections, to any system that may be proposed, than to search after remedies, though easy to be found; of what use, say they [219] would such a division be? I answer much. Besides, the question is asked as if there were not immense multitudes of men, in a community, other than the jack-tar, and the gentleman's son in Broadway. Is it of no consequence to these, that they should have their rights? Are they not to have accorded to them, what belongs to them; what, is so necessary to them, their welfare and happiness; merely because the present vicious system of holding and transfering property has rendered worthless a portion of the low in life, as well as the high? What would be said, now, of a proposition, to disinherit all the children of a father, merely from the fact, that one of these children might be a prodigal and a profligate? Yet, such is the objection that is made to the giving to the whole community what belongs to them; and what no man can dispute as belonging to them; merely because it would be no good to a being, or a few beings among them, already ruined by the vices of society. There can be no doubt, that it is to the influence of these vices, generated by this unequal condition of things, in regard to property, that we are to attribute the existence of this class of heedless and improvident men. For if, on the one hand, the system of the rights of property, had not been such, as to enable the father to have obtained an unjust, an overgrown, and more than sufficient wealth, he would not have obtained it; and his son, from his earliest years, would have been accustomed to rely on his own exertions, [220] instead of living on the means acquired by his father, for his present and future support. His habits would have been, of a better and a higher order, and necessity would have called upon him to exercise his own faculties, for his own subsistance. Other young men of his age, would have been in like condition; so, that both the motive and the opportunity would have been wanting, which are necessary to work that moral ruin, which we every day observe in wealthy families. On the other hand, an original want of property, in numerous classes of society, with the consequent relation it holds with the other class, has led to the formation of the other and opposite description of character.

ft will not be proper, therefore, to object to an equal division of property, on account of some persons in the community being unfit to receive it. This would be to place the happiness of the many upon a contingency of a most extraordinary character. The proper course to pursue, is, as far as regards those who are not qualified, who are decidedly and manifestly not qualified, to take proper charge of that which shall be assigned to them, to place it in the hands of trustees or guardians for their benefit. This is what happens every day in many governments as now constituted; and it would be equally proper in this. It is a remedial operation; useful to correct political vices, already engendered; and which it is better thus to adopt, than to suffer the greater [221] evil which would take place without it. With this remark, let us close the present chapter, and resume the subject in our next.