George Fitzhugh on Government

A presentation of Fitzhughian thought on the state through quotations by George Fitzhugh

“To make the people labor is the first and paramount duty of every government, for government is bound to provide
for all, and can only do so from the labor of all.” Where there is a will, there is a way,” is a favorite maxim at the North;
and no people in the world have so much ingenuity, contrivance and administrative talent as they. The whole evil of
the times consists in this, that the negro wont work, and that Government has to expend thirty millions a year in
feeding, physicking, clothing, teaching, burying and keeping them quiet and orderly. Yankee ingenuity, set earnestly
to work, will readily devise means to cure these evils; or, if it can’t, it need only turn the negroes over to the people
of the South, and we will govern them as well as before the war; when they were certainly the best governed, best
supplied, most happy, and comfortable laboring class in the world. Yet we believe, that if the Freedmen’s Bureau
will set about making them work, they would get more labor out of them as freemen, than we ever did out of them
as slaves. Northern people are intolerant of idleness, laziness and waste, and are altogether better managers than
we. Let the Bureau rent lands, put the negroes to work at moderate hire, supervise them rigidly, and keep them
constantly at work, and the negro would cease to be a nuisance, and become a valuable citizen. To make them
work, is not only the right, but the incumbent duty of Government, and it may rightfully and properly employ all the
means necessary to attain that end. If they will only do their proper share of work as slaves, then it is the right
and duty of Government to return them to slavery. Let, however, the experiment of liberty be first fairly and fully
tried, and if when so tried, it fails, no alternative will be left except to restore them to slavery, or to permit them
to return to the savage state, and probably to set up a separate Negro Republic some-where in the South.”
– George Fitzhugh, Exodus from the South, page: 4, 1867

“The government of every country is bound to take care of all its citizens or subjects, from
the results of the industry of all. To punish idleness is the first and most incumbent duty of
government; and the punishment should be severe enough to prevent or correct the evil.”
– George Fitzhugh, What’s to be done with the free Negroes?, page: 2, 1866

“We don’t think representative government is an English discovery. We believe all government is, or should be,
representative. We think the father and husband the only natural, proper and reliable representative of his wife
and children-appointed by nature, not elected by wife and children. We believe the master to be the natural, and
only safe and reliable representative of his slaves the lord or baron the representative of his serfs and vassals-the
Roman senator or patrician the representative of his clients, freedmen and slaves-and the king or emperor the
representative of all his subjects. We believe that equals never did, and never will, honestly and fairly represent their
equals; for equals are competitors, rivals and enemies, struggling to advance themselves by injuring each other.”
– George Fitzhugh, History of the Origin of Representative Government in Europe, page: 4, 1866

“The king, the nobility and clergy, honestly and fairly represent the interests of the laboring classes of England; but
the House of Commons, emanating from that class, is its dire enemy, and only represents the bankers, farmers,
landlords and other capitalists of the nation. The House of Commons preceded by a century pauperism in England.
But for that house, there never would save been pauperism there-for king, lords and clergymen would have extended
equal protection to all, and never suffered a parcel of roguish commoners to have grown fat by despoiling their
equals, the laboring class. The French Revolution of ’93 brought about the same result there. The shopkeepers
and petty landholders, bankers and other capitalists, were put in power. The bourgeoise were substituted for king,
bishops and nobility-the wolves for the lions-the natural friends, parents and protectors of the people for their mean,
natural and contemptible enemies, parvenus and upstarts, elected from their own body. The true representative
must be a superior-a king, a lord, a bishop, or a master-some one who best advances his own interests by taking
care of the interests of his constituents; one who is not paid for his services-for if his interest in the public weal be
not large enough to justify his giving his ser-vices, he is apt to swindle the people whom he affects to represent.
He is sure not to levy high taxes where-his part of the tar would exceed his salary. But where he is poor and has
little or nothing to tax, but much to gain from taxation, by providing fat offices for his children, cousins and base
tools who elect him to office, ho will, therefore, ever be ready to vote for the heaviest system of taxation. The
Southern mas-ter, the Roman senator, and the English baron, always op-posed heavy taxes, because they
had to pay them; or, to speak more accurately, heavy taxes by government lessened the profits which they
derived from their slaves, tenants, vassals and other dependants.

The interests of superior and inferior, of landlord and tenant, of king and subject, of patrician and plebeian,
of lord and vassal, of bishop and laity, of father and children, of husband and wife, are indissolubly tied
up together; and the former will feelingly and honestly represent, advocate and advance, the interests of
the latter: because they thereby take care of and advance their own interests. But equals are always rivals,
competitors and enemies; and when one of the poor is chosen to represent the poor, he never fails to
fleece, oppress and swindle them, for that is the only way in which he can use his office for self-promotion.
Representative government did not begin in England. It is natural and has been universal. Diseased
society brought forth the House of Commons, the tools of the moneyed class; and this house has so
neglected and oppressed the laboring people, that a fourth power has arisen in the nation. The laborers,
finding that they had no voice or influence, and little sympathy, in government, have banded themselves
into trades unions, in order to take care of their own interests. There was no necessity for this until the
king was stripped of his prerogative, the baron of his serfs and vassals, and the church of its lands.
Until then, every man in England had his place, his home, his protector, his means of certain support,
by light and easy labor. Until then, there were no paupers or poor-houses in England; because, until
then, it was the interest and duty and obligation of the rich and powerful to take care of the poor;
because, until then, every laborer was naturally and properly represented by a superior whose interests
cohered with those of the laborer. Actual representation ended just where nominal representation begun.”
– George Fitzhugh, History of the Origin of Representative Government in Europe, pages: 5-6, 1866

“There may be an imperfect system or science of law, but law is not all of government; and no system of law, or of
government, was ever tolerated by a people unless it grew up insensibly, and without plan or design amongst them,
or was imposed upon them by superior external force. Law-makers see this, and meet once a year: not to make law,
but to accept such changes as nature and circumstances require. Were there a science of legislation, they might make
laws like the fabled ones of the Medes and Persians, never to be changed. Legislation is pathological; it discovers no
general, exact or universal truths, and hence adapts itself to varying circumstances as they arise, without the wisdom
or the prescience to foresee them, and provide for them before they have arisen. Jurisprudence is equally pathological,
and equity has often to restrain or dispense with the imperfect and harsh provisions of the law. Man can tell what is
right under present circumstances, but no two cases arise in all respects alike-so that he can establish no practical
rule of right. This great truth is admitted, and carried into practice by the frequent changes of law; and by the necessity
to have a dispensing power or court of equity, to relieve from the written law when it would operate iniquitously. Equity
is the pathology of law; and jurists who admit the necessity of equity, unconsciously assert that law is not a science.”
– George Fitzhugh, History of the Origin of Representative Government in Europe, pages: 1-2, 1866

“The secret of social life, of animal life, and of vegetable life, elude all analysis. Much as men have thought
and written and experimented on these subjects, they are as far today from knowing how to create a man,
a society, or the minutest vegetable, as they were at the earliest dawn of history or tradition. Vital truths
are hidden, and ever will be hidden, from mortal ken. Society is as old as man; it is a consequence of
his nature, of his necessities, and of his instincts. Reason and design have nothing to do with its origin,
and very little with its growth: Its improvement is always the result of accident or usurpation, and its
decay and dissolution proceed from causes too subtle, too various, too complex or too profound, to
be reached, detected, analyzed and expounded by human intellect. Society implies government: for
there can be no government without one or many societies, and no society without government.”
– George Fitzhugh, History of the Origin of Representative Government in Europe, page: 1, 1866

“Now, if he meant by “moral ideas” the instinctive feelings, affections and sympathies which are common, in
more or less degree, to all mankind, and which induce the strong, wise and powerful to protect and take care of
the weak and dependent; and, on the other hand, impel the weak and ignorant to look up to, respect and obey
those above them in authority, wisdom, strength or position. If this were what he meant, then he would have
discovered and announced a great and valuable truth then he would have found out that “strength of weakness “
with which nature has invested women, children, subjects, slaves and other dependants, that operates to restrain,
check and balance the power of superiors far better than any human legislation. God made society, with all
the necessary checks and balances, and human law but enforces nature when it punishes crime-for crime is
abnormal and unnatural. Man’s benevolent affections, his social and “antiselfish” nature, usually restrain him
from abuse of power-not some vague and undiscovered standard of right and Justice which Utopians like
Guizot are ever pursuing and never attain. This imaginary standard constitutes what he calls “moral ideas.”
– George Fitzhugh, History of the Origin of Representative Government in Europe, page: 8, 1866

“The two facts-society and government-mutually imply one another. Society without government, is no more
possible than government without society. The very idea of society implies that of rule, of universal law-that
is to say, of government. This necessary coexistence of society and government, shows the absurdity of
the hypothesis of the social contract.” Now, as government is natural to men, and men’s natures, habits,
wants, passions, virtues, vices and propensities are as much alike as those of bees, ants, beavers, or any
other social animals, it. would seem to follow that the social forms and government of different nations
must be naturally, and, when in a healthy state, as much alike as those of other gregarious animals.”
– George Fitzhugh, History of the Origin of Representative Government in Europe, page: 7, 1866

“There is no such thing as moral, medical or agricultural science, and never can be; because man is ignorant,
and must ever remain ignorant of the vital forces that originate and sustain societies, animals and vegetables.
Were it possible for him to detect them, he might create a vegetable, and give it life and growth-make a man, and
breathe into him a living soul; or, what is far more difficult, make a society or government which is compounded
of many individuals, and embraces all the complexities of individual as well as of social life. Society is a God
created being, like hives and herds and flocks, and it would be less absurd and presumptuous to attempt to
create the individuals who constitute a society in the segregate, than the social being which is their compound
and aggregate. It does not follow, because government is a natural and original condition of mankind, that,
therefore, nothing can be done from time to time to better adapt and improve it. All of human life is a ceaseless
struggle between fate and free will. Providence, in the main, prescribes our condition as individuals or as nations,
but leaves much room for voluntary action, and requires it of us as a condition of our well-being, that we should
be ever struggling against the evils that surround us. low much our career in life is the result of circumstance
and necessity; how much depends on our own exertions, we can never know; yet, are all conscious that we
are responsible beings, free, in general, to pursue this or that mode of action, and dependent for success in life
on our own exertions. We may fail despite of exertion, but cannot succeed without it. “A Paul may plant and
an Apollos water, but God alone can give the increase.” Yet Paul must plant and Apollos water, or there will
surely be no increase. Government cannot be made by man, but he must be continually mending it, pruning it,
or adding to it, or it will be sure to go to speedy ruin. We must physic nature; not attempt to create it or expel it.”
– George Fitzhugh, History of the Origin of Representative Government in Europe, pages: 2-3, 1866

“This thing of government-making would be the easiest thing in the world, if one could make the men
to be governed; for then one should know the value, force and adaptation of the materials out of which
we proposed to rear our edifice. To build a government or society, we must begin by constructing its
separate parts; the integers or individuals who are to compose it. That is the way God Almighty makes
governments or societies, and man will never effect it by taking a shorter cut. Until he can go to work
in the same way, he must he content to accept government, ready made, from the hand of God.”
_ George Fitzhugh, History of the Origin of Representative Government in Europe, page: 4, 1866

“Our institutions are of English origin, and our people of English descent. Unconquerable, uneradicable elasticity and
vitality ever distinguished English institutions and love of liberty. Magna Charts and her various statutes, intended as
assertions and recognitions of the immemorial prescriptive rights and liberties of English men, though frequently
disregarded and violated by usurping and tyrannical monarchs, gained renewed strength and vigor from each violation;
were time and again reasserted, recognized and acknowledged by succeeding monarchs, until today Magna Charta,
the Writ of Habeas Corpus, the Bill of Rights, and all the other muniments of English liberty are more firmly fixed in
the affections of the people, and more distinctly recognized and observed by Government, than at any former period.
Our Constitution is little more than the unwritten Constitution of England reduced to writing. It is adapted to our wants,
our feelings, our Anglo-Saxon love of liberty, and will be restored in all its pristine purity and integrity so soon as the
Radicals are expelled from power. It worked admirably, save for the slavery question, for nearly a century, and that
cause of dissension being removed, it may continue to work well for many centuries to come.”
– George Fitzhugh, Terribly in Earnest, pages: 3-4, 1866

“We have often had occasion to remark that the maxims in all languages are the same; that they are systems
of philosophy, tersely expressed, and like all systems of philosophy, but half truths, any one of which, if made
the sole guidance of conduct, becomes a whole falsehood. Hence, we think, in all languages where you find one
maxim you may find another having an opposite meaning. Truth, or the line of rectitude, lies somewhere between
those opposing maxims; yet no one will ever discover exact truth or the line of rectitude, though we all know
when we have departed or aberred far from them. Stoicism and epicurism were, in like manner, half truths, and
the line of rectitude, or positive truth, lay somewhat between them. Yet it is vain to attempt to define that line.”
– George Fitzhugh, Terribly in Earnest, pages: 5, 1866

“Opposing forces, forces whose respective, appropriate limits are wholly discoverable and undefinable, keep in
action, and, by their antagonism, sustain the universe from the solar system, with its centripital and centrifugal
forces, down to the minutest plant, with its light and darkness, its moisture and dryness, its heat and told, its earth,
its lime, its ammonia, and a thousand other minute and recondite forces, which, by their opposition, keep the
plant growing, yet any one of which alone, or in excess, would be poison and death to the plant. Away, then, with
the notion that the Federal Govvernment and the State Government cannot get along successfully together
because they will often antagonize. They should antagonize, be jealous of each others authority, keep up, at
least, continual disputes and wars of words, keep watch and guard over each other, cherish esprit de corps and
selfishness to a moderate degree, and become the “antinomes” or opposing, yet co-operative, forces essential
to the preservation of individual liberty and the maintenance and stability of society and of government.”
– George Fitzhugh, Terribly in Earnest, pages: 5, 1866

“Institutions, not constitutions, are the real efficient safeguards, muniments and defences of liberty. The institutions
of England, especially her King, her Houses of Lords and of Commons, her Established Church, her Judiciary, her
landed entails and her limited suffrage, are older, more venerated and possessed of more strength and vitality than
any similar institutions of ours. We change, or greatly modify, most of our institutions so often, that we do not give
them time to harden into strength and consistency, nor to win and secure the respect, attachment and veneration
of the people. To this general rule there is, however, one signal and distinguished exception. Our States are at once
institutions and sovereign nations. The Government of England is also an institution, although the aggregate of
many lesser institutions. Our State Governments are also, like the institutions of England, prescriptive. No one can
trace hack to their beginning, nor detect and expose their gradual accretions, growth and development. The founders
of the Old Thirteen States brought over with them Anglo-Saxon laws, customs, habits, liberties and other institutions.
The birthplace of these institutions was the forests of Germany ; but when or how born, formed or created, no
one can tell. It is only naturalborn prescriptive institutions that possess strength, vitality and stability. These States
are far older than the Federal Government, which, however, was not made by the United States Constitution, not
man-made, but grew up gradually, insensibly and naturally out of the wants and circumstances of the times.
There was, for many purposes, a union of the States or Colonies, for half a century before the Revolution of
1776, and Congresses and Conventions of the States long preceded even the confederation. Our unwritten
Federal Constitution, our prescriptive Constitution, forms the larger and better part of our written Federal
Constitution. That written Con-stitution would not have lasted a year had not its framers wisely adopted what
was already in existence, what was natural, of English and German descent, prescriptive and immemorial.

In saying this of the Federal Government, we are but “rendering unto Cesar the things that are Cmsar’s.” It has rights
and powers which are sovereign within a limited sphere. But the States have also rights and powers which, in a far
wider sphere, are sovereign, and they, too, within their appropriate sphere, should be respected and obeyed. They,
and the Federal Government, are co-ordinate sovereignties, opposing, antagonising, antinomic forces, that, by their
antagonism and opposition, co operate to sustain and keep in life and action the great framework of society, and of
Government., State and Federal. It is an unphilosophieal, a senseless, an absurd objection to our Republican form
of government, that the limits of the respective powers of the State and Federal Government are not exactly defined,
nor capable of exact definition. They would not live a year if they were capable of such exact definition. Who can define
the exact limits of the powers of Executive and Legislature, of Legislature and Judiciary, of the civil and the military
power, of repre-sentative and constituency, of Church and State? Why, no one ! Each is continually warring with the
other in the attempt to increase its sphere of action; and it is by such war that the fabric of government and of society
is sustained. ‘Whenever any institution ceases to be jealous and aggressive, loses its esprit de corps, its selfishness,
and becomes apathetic and quiescent, that institution is about to perish.”
– George Fitzhugh, Terribly in Earnest, pages: 4-5, 1866

“Opposing forces, forces whose respective, appropriate limits are wholly discoverable and undefinable, keep in
action, and, by their antagonism, sustain the universe from the solar system, with its centripital and centrifugal
forces, down to the minutest plant, with its light and darkness, its moisture and dryness, its heat and told, its earth,
its lime, its ammonia, and a thousand other minute and recondite forces, which, by their opposition, keep the
plant growing, yet any one of which alone, or in excess, would be poison and death to the plant. Away, then, with
the notion that the Federal Govvernment and the State Government cannot get along successfully together
because they will often antagonize. They should antagonize, be jealous of each others authority, keep up, at
least, continual disputes and wars of words, keep watch and guard over each other, cherish esprit de corps and
selfishness to a moderate degree, and become the “antinomes” or opposing, yet co-operative, forces essential
to the preservation of individual liberty and the maintenance and stability of society and of government.”
– George Fitzhugh, Terribly in Earnest, pages: 5, 1866

“The Federal Constitution is by far the most absurd and contradictory paper ever penned by practical men.
The President’s oath binds him to sustain it, and, in endeavoring to do so, he has involved himself in a maze of
contradictions and absurdities, only equalled in folly and grossness by the “Great Sublime he paints.” Probably
its incongruities may have been aggravated by the attempt to reconcile and conciliate the conflicting opinions
and feelings of his cabinet. It looks not as if written by one man, but like the work of many minds, very loosely
jointed together. Yet, incongruous as it is, it does not approach in absurdity to the heterogeneous, puerile and
conflicting mass of materials which compose the Federal Constitution. That Constitution is the attempt to make
a government-the only attempt of the sort that had theretofore been made, except Locke’s Constitution for the
Carolinas, which, though beautiful in theory, would not work in practice. Plato, and Bacon, and Sir Thomas More,
and others, had propounded beautiful schemes of government, but men in general were too wise and prudent
to experiment on their schemes. Our colonial or State governments had grown up, like all other governments,
and had become so hardy, strong, and well compacted, that they survived the written constitutions inflicted
on them by our Revolutionary ancestors. Their natural, congenital constitutions continued to live and flourish,
despite those artificial adjuncts. The attempt to make a government was rash and absurd enough of itself,
but to set about constructing one, without materials to build with, was carrying folly to the verge of insanity.
The people, and the territory which they proposed to govern, had already been appropriated by
the States, and they had to make a government without either a people or a territory.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Message, the Constitution, and the Times, page: 2, 1861

“The most perfect system of government is to be found in armies, because in them there is least of liberty, and most
of order, subordination and obedience. More exact discipline, and more punctual and implicit obedience of orders,
are required from officers than from soldiers-for neglect or disobedience of orders is attended with evil, disarrangement
and confusion, just in proportion to the rank and office of the offender. Officers and soldiers have sold “life, liberty, and
the pursuit of happiness,” and if they desert on the eve of battle, will. be shot when caught, no matter how eloquently
they plead the Declaration of Independence or the Chicago platform. According to those authorities, the contract of
enlistment would not bind the person for a moment, and government would have to bring an action for damages for
breach of contract, just as the employer sues the carpenter for failing to do work that he contracted to do.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Declaration of Independence and the Republican Party, page: 10, 1860

“Marriage among the ancient heathen, as now among orthodox and enlightened Christians, was considered a religious
ordinance, as well as a civil contract. Stripped of the former attribute, it soon becomes temporary in character, a sort of
social partnership, to be dissolved at the pleasure of either party, and ends in free-love and polygamy. Marriage such
as we first described is a proscriptive institution. No one knows when or how it commenced. It is aboriginal and natural,
not a mere human contrivance. (It carries along with it the subordination of the wife to the husband, and is the first step
or link in that ascending series of subordination, which characterizes and constitutes society. Natural inequality among
men is the basis of all government and all social order. Men are born unequal, in sex, in physical, in mental, and moral
capacity, and in wealth and social position. The right and duty of the husband to restrict and regulate the liberty of wife,
children, slave, and hired servants, is not a human, artificial arrangement, but an aboriginal provision of Providence.
The family thus constituted ip the human hive-the first great natural institution. Domes-tic affection, which checks
and regulates the power of the husband or patriarch, is also aboriginal, instinctive, and God-given.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Declaration of Independence and the Republican Party, page: 4, 1860

“Writing, we believe, is universally conceded to be a human invention. We doubt it. We incline to Justice Dogberry’s
opinion, that “it came by nature.” We can well understand how picture writing, pictures of things, and arbitrary pictures
of words, was invented, but cannot conceive how men went about to invent a phonetic alphabet, such as we use-an
alphabet that is neither the sign of words, of things, nor of syllables. We think, like language, it was an original gift. The
antiquarians can never refute our theory, because written history begins long after writing was invented-if it was invented
-and can give no more account of its own birth than a child or a man can give of his. The earliest inscriptions on stone
or marble, supposed once to be pictorial, are, we believe, now considered by the learned to be alphabetic and phonetic.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Declaration of Independence and the Republican Party, page: 9, 1860

“Mr. Carlyle really ought to visit America to find fitting themes for his pen. The South would give him a warm
welcome, for she thinks him at least half right. The frontier Western territories, when they improvise justice
and practice Lynch law, would give him an enthusiastic reception. What a book he might write on ” Scenes
in the West, with the early days of Andrew Jackson.” Old Hickory, before he joined the church, is the very
hero for his pen. And then again, the outrageous earnestness of Western manners and mode of life, are
not only excusable, but often necessary, in a new country. And then again, the outrageous earnestness of
Western manners and mode of life, are not only excusable, but often necessary, in a new country. where
law and order are not yet established, and men have to take care of themselves, and make and administer
law for themselves; but in an old sedate country like England, or Prussia, the lawless pranks of his heroes
are out of place, in bad taste, and quite inexcusable. The government of law is the natural government of
man, and nothing but dire necessity can excuse its temporary neglect or breach.”
– George Fitzhugh, Frederick The Great, pages: 10-11, 1860

“The art of government is the most useful and noblest of all arts. It is to be learned not from a
priori speculations, but only to be deduced from the various experiences and examples of the
many nations that have fallen or flourished according to the wisdom or folly of their governmental
policy and practices. Social government is more important than political government; for social
government looks into the inmost recesses of society, and carefully drills, trains, and. educates
the individual to play the part of subject and of citizen. This neglected, and political government
in vain attempts to make a great people of little individuals-a sound whole of rotten parts.”
– George Fitzhugh, Frederick The Great, page: 2, 1860

“We don’t believe in a simple government, like Zekiel Bigelow’s churn, with one wheel and a crank. We don’t
believe that Frederick William ruled and made Prussia great merely with a “walking cane” for sceptre, and
“Tobacco Parliament” for council. Nay, we believe that Prussia, Prussian drill made him, not he Prussia-and
that the unspoken instincts and inarticulate voice of the people controlled him, while he seemed to control
them. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” So of a
nation. But this training of a whole people is a very complex affair. Hundreds of institutions, hundreds of
officials, must combine their efforts to train a nation. A church, with a numerous priesthood, varying in
rank and authority, is indispensable, for religion is the first and most potent agency in government. An
army, with its various gradations of rank and authority, is also indispensable. Schools, with their teachers
and professors, who “teach the young idea how to shoot,” are also a part of that series of subordinations,
which raises man above the brute, and makes the Being Society a Christian institution, ever ready to
interpose its aegis to protect the weak against the selfish cannibalism of the individual monad. Man,
isolated and individualized, is a devil. He is only respectable under a Greek, or Roman, or Prussian
government, which compels him to work like the bee, for the common good. Family government, the
government of the father and mother, does, next to religion, most to determine national character.”
– George Fitzhugh, Frederick The Great, page: 3, 1860

“The so-called tyrants were not merely the Plantagenet kings, but the sixty thousand soldiers who followed
William the Conqueror to England, and their descendants. The Norman French became the owners of the
lands and master of the people of England. Sixty-thousand brave Normans, with the Catholic Church to help
them, drilling the English continually, did make men of them-the men of Agincourt, and Poictiers, and Crescy.
Such men as England will never see again. The government was then exceedingly complex, searching,
multifarious, and rigid. Not the government of one head, not a ” walking cane,” and Tobacco Parliament, nor
a Zekiel Bigelow’s churn affair, but a government with thousands of heads, and of strong arms clad in mail.
A government aided and fortified by religion-for all men were then romantically religious. The priesthood,
though the friends of the people, were also the advocates of strict order and subordination. The Church was
the great balance-wheel that kept up just relations between the Norman masters and their Anglo-Saxon
vassals. Prussia, too, had a nobility equal to that of early Rome. They owned the lands, filled all offices in
state and in the army, were quasi masters of the people, and, to preserve their position, kept the people in
perfect subordination and “drill.” The Prussian army was the truest and noblest representative body in the
world, for its officers were noblemen, who owned the people and the soil of the nation. Men will represent
their own interests properly, and are very apt to misrepresent other people’s. The Prussian government,
in the days of the Fredericks, iras thoroughly and faithfully represented in all its branches and details.
Our federal government is elective, but has not one representative feature.”
– George Fitzhugh, Frederick The Great, pages: 4-5, 1860

“We dislike very much to differ with Mr. Carlyle, with whose opinions about government we, in the general,
agree; our ends are the same; we differ only as to the means. We think as he does, that so-called tyrannical
government is the only thing worth calling government. But the governments of the higher classes of the
people have been quite as all-pervading, tyrannical, efficient, and good as those of single despots-as
witness that of Judea before the days of Saul, the governments of the Greek republics, and that of the
early Roman republic. Individual liberty was established in Rome by the overthrow of the republic and
the setting up of the empire. National greatness sank as individual liberty arose, and society, throughout
all its ramifications, soon became debased, depraved, effeminate and demoralized.”
– George Fitzhugh, Frederick The Great, page: 5, 1860

“Our seceding States best understand and practice the art of government. Admirable models for a
“New World” may be found there. ‘Tis as well and strictly governed as Judea in the days of Moses;
Rome, in the time of Brutus the Elder; Sparta, under Lyeurgus; or Prussia, under Frederick the Great.
A master race necessarily improves upon itself, and practices as severe a drill as it subjects its inferiors
to. Witness the nobility of Rome, of England under the Plantagenets, and of Prussia under the Fredericks.
The gentlemen of the South are better horsemen, better marksmen, have more physical strength and
activity, and can endure more fatigue than their slaves. Besides, they have the lofty sentiments and high
morals of a master race, that would render them unconquerable. Their time is occupied in governing
their slaves and managing their farms-they are slaves themselves to their duties, and have no taste
for that prurient love of licentious liberty which has depraved and demoralized free society.”
– George Fitzhugh, Frederick The Great, page: 5-6, 1860

“The next passage which we shall quote from Mr. Calhoun, we think fully equal to anything ever written by Aristotle.
Yet, we wish that he had gone farther. He says: “It would seem that it has exceeded human sagacity deliberately to
plan and construct constitutional governments.” Might he not truly have said, that government, in all its forms, from
that of a family to that of a kingdom, is not of human contrivance, but of natural and necessitous origin and growth?
Might he not have added that there is no such thing as absolute anarchy, pure despotism? When no constitutional
checks are interposed to limit power, when no legal institutions exist to oppose the will of the contract, nature supplies
a thousand checks and balances to control his conduct, and to mitigate his tyranny. The father is the universal and
natural head and despot of the family, but his conduct is influenced, and often entirely controlled by wife, children,
slaves, the church to which he belongs, or, by public opinion. We say by slaves, because it is a notorious fact in
history, that in Asia, where slaves are of the same color with the master, they are very generally, ” a power behind
the throne greater than the throne itself.” Our own governments and institutions are generally supposed to be of
human origin and contrivance. Never was there a greater mistake, nor one more likely to lead to mischievous
consequences. The Colonies brought with them the laws and institutions of England, and modified them very
slightly to suit the difference of condition between an old and a new country. Those laws and institutions were
the growth and accretion of time, circumstance, necessity, and compromise, not the contrivance of any man
or set of men. The Confederation arose out of the necessities of the times. It it was found inadequate for
continuance, and our present Constitution of the Union grew up by bar-gain and compromise of opposing
interests, and was not the work of any man in the Convention that framed it, nor the joint work of all, but a
compromise in which the opinions and purposes of none were fully carried out. It was the outgrowth of nature,
Providence, and necessity, not the work of man. It will last, because it is God-made, not man-made. Man
can no more make a human government than he can make a human king, a tree, or a honeycomb.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Politics and Economies of Aristotle and Mr. Calhoun, pages: 7-8, 1857

“These doctrines of Calhoun and Aristotle are of vital importance to the South; for if a social contract
precedes society, then it is but fair to assume, that all men have surrendered to government equal
amounts of rights and liberty, and retained equal amounts, hence all men remain equal, or of right
ought to be, and domestic slavery becomes a gross violation of natural right. But the consequences
of the doctrine would not end here; all men being equal, all would have equal right to the soil, and
equal right to govern. Carry out the principle of the social contract into practice, and it leads to an equal
division of land, and the government by turns of every member of society, all which is impracticable
and absurd, and, therefore, the doctrine of the social contract is itself absurd and should be rejected.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Politics and Economies of Aristotle and Mr. Calhoun, pages: 7, 1857

“Government is the life of a nation, and as no one can foresee the various future circumstances of social, any
more than of individual life, it is absurd to define on paper, at the birth of either the nation or individual, what
they shall do and what not do. Broad construction of constitutions is as good as no constitution, for it leaves
the nation to adapt itself to circumstances; but strict construction will destroy any nation, for action is necessary
to national conservation, and constitution-makers cannot foresee what action will be necessary. If individual
or social life were passed in mere passivity, constitutions might answer. Not in a changing and active world.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 363, 1857

“The abstract principles which they enunciate, we candidly admit, are wholly at war with slavery; we shall attempt to show
that they are equally at war with all government, all subordination, all order. Men’s minds were heated and blinded when they
were written, as well by patriotic zeal, as by a false philosophy, which, beginning with Locke, in a refined materialism, had
ripened on the Continent into open infidelity. In England, the doctrine of prescriptive government, the divine right of kings,
had met with signal overthrow, and in France there was faith in nothing, speculation about everything. The human mind
became extremely presumptuous, and undertook to form governments on exact philosophical principles, just as men make
clocks, watches or mills. They confounded the moral with the physical world, and this was not strange, because they had
begun to doubt whether there was any other than a physical world. Society seemed to them a thing whose movement and
action could be controlled with as much certainty as the motion of a spinning wheel, provided it was organized on proper
principles. It would have been less presumptuous in them to have attempted to have made a tree, for a tree is not half
so complex as a society of human beings, each of whom is fearfully and wonderfully compounded of soul and body, and
whose aggregate, society, is still more complex and difficult of comprehension than its individual members. Trees grow
and man may lop, trim, train and cultivate them, and thus hasten their growth, and improve their size, beauty and fruitfulness.
Laws, institutions, societies, and governments grow, and men may aid their growth, improve their strength and beauty,
and lop off their deformities and excrescences, by punishing crime and rewarding virtue. When society has worked
long enough, under the hand of God and nature, man observing its operations, may discover its laws and constitution.
The common law of England and the constitution of England, were discoveries of this kind. Fortunately for us, we
adopted, with little change, that common law and that constitution. Our institutions and our ancestry were English.
Those institutions were the growth and accretions of many ages, not the work of legislating philosophers.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, page: 175-176, 1854

“Some animals are by nature gregarious and associative. Of this class are men, ants and bees. An isolated
man is almost as helpless and ridiculous as a bee setting up for himself. Man is born a member of society,
and does not form society. Nature, as in the cases of bees and ants, has it ready formed for him. He and
society are congenital. Society is the being – he one of the members of that being. He has no rights whatever,
as opposed to the interests of society; and that society may very properly make any use of him that will redound
to the public good. Whatever rights he has are subordinate to the good of the whole; and he has never ceded
rights to it, for he was born its slave, and had no rights to cede. Government is the creature of society, and
may be said to derive its powers from the consent of the governed; but society does not owe its sovereign
power to the separate consent, volition or agreement of its members. Like the hive, it is as much the work of
nature as the individuals who compose it. Consequences; the very opposite of the doctrine of free trade, result
from this doctrine of ours. It makes each society a band of brothers, working for the common good, instead
of a bag of cats biting and worrying each other. The competitive system is a system of antagonism and war;
ours of peace and fraternity. The first is the system of free society; the other that of slave society. The Greek,
the Roman, Judaistic, Egyptian, and all ancient polities, were founded on our theory. The loftiest patrician in
those days, valued himself not on selfish, cold individuality, but on being the most devoted servant of society
and his country. In ancient times, the individual was considered nothing, the State every thing. And yet, under
this system, the noblest individuality was evolved that the world has ever seen.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, pages: 25-27, 1854

“The decline of civilization under the Roman Empire was owing solely to centralization. If political science has
at all advanced since the earliest annals of history, that advance is the discovery that each small section knows
best its own interests, and should be endowed with the most of the functions of government. The ancients, in
the days of Herodotus, when the country around the Levant and the Islands in the Mediterranean were cut up
into hundreds of little highly enlightened independent States, seem to have understood the evils of centralization
quite as well a the moderns. At least their practice was wiser than ours, whatever may have been their theory.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, page: 18, 1854

“A maxim well calculated not only to retard the progress of civilization, but to occasion its retrogression, has grown out
of the science of political economy. “The world is too much governed,” has become quite an axiom with many politicians.
Now the need of law and government is just in proportion to man’s wealth and enlightenment. Barbarians and savages
need and will submit to but few and simple laws, and little of government. The love of personal liberty and freedom from
all restraint, are distinguishing traits of wild men and wild beasts. Our Anglo-Saxon ancestors loved personal liberty
because they were barbarians, but they did not love it half so much as North American Indians or Bengal tigers, because
they were not half so savage. As civilization advances, liberty recedes: and it is fortunate for man that he loses his love
of liberty just as fast as he becomes more moral and intellectual. The wealthy, virtuous and religious citizens of large
towns enjoy less of liberty than any other persons whatever, and yet they are the most useful and rationally happy of
all mankind. The best governed countries, and those which have prospered most, have always been distinguished
for the number and stringency of their laws. Good men obey superior authority, the laws of God, of morality, and of
their country; bad men love liberty and violate them. It would be difficult very often for the most ingenious casuist to
distinguish between sin and liberty; for virtue consists in the performance of duty, and the obedience to that law or
power that imposes duty, whilst sin is but the violation of duty and disobedience to such law and power. It is remarkable,
in this connection, that sin began by the desire for liberty and the attempt to attain it in the person of Satan and his
fallen angels. The world wants good government and a plenty of it – not liberty. It is deceptive in us to boast of our
Democracy, to assert the capacity of the people for self-government, and then refuse to them its exercise.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, pages: 29-30, 1854

“Historians and philosophers, speculating upon the origin of governments, have generally agreed that the family was
its first development. It has ever been, and will ever be, its most common form. Two-thirds of mankind, the women
and children, are everywhere the subjects of family government. In all countries where slavery exists, the slaves also
are the subjects of this kind of government. Now slaves, wives and children have no other government; they do not
come directly in contact with the institutions and rulers of the State. But the family government, from its nature, has
ever been despotic. The relations between the parent or master and his family subjects are too various, minute and
delicate, to be arranged, defined, and enforced by law. God has in his mercy and wisdom provided a better check, to
temper and direct the power of the master of the family, than any human government has devised. He who takes note
of every sparrow that falls, who will not break the bruised reed, and who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, has not
been forgetful or regardless of wives, children, and slaves. He has extended the broad panoply of domestic affection
over them all, that the winds of heaven not visit them too roughly; under its expansive folds other of his creatures
repose in quiet and security: the ox, the horse, the sheep, the faithful dog, betake themselves to its friendly shelter,
and cluster around their protecting master.” Domestic affection cannot be calculated in dollars and cents. It cannot be
weighed, or measured, or seen, or felt – except in its effects. “The wind bloweth where it listeth and no man knoweth
whence it cometh or whither it goeth.” Its holy fountain is concealed in deeper recesses than the head of the Nile,
and in its course it dispenses blessings from the rich overflowings of the hearth, ten thousand times more precious
than that sacred river ever gave to the land of Egypt. Political economists, politicians and materialists ignore its
existence, because it is too refined for their comprehension. The material world engrosses their attention, and
they heed little those moral agencies that Providence has established to control the material world.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, pages: 105-106, 1854

“An overgrown State, like an overgrown man, is not generally equal in wisdom or strength to one of moderate
size. The most distinguished, learned and wealthy States of ancient and modern times, have had small dominions
and populations. They have been obliged, in order to secure their independence, to prosecute every art, science,
trade and avocation belonging to civilized life. Thus a few came to understand and practice what many performed
in large and cumbrous States. A small nationality and denser population, not cursed by free trade, necessarily
produces an intense civilization, provided the nation be of a race that needs and loves civilization.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, page: 138, 1854

“Our Southern free-trade philosophy, our favorite maxim, “every man for himself,” has been the cause of the
neglect of popular education. The civilized world differ from us and censure us. They say it is the first duty of
government to provide for the education of all its citizens. Despotic Prussia compels parents to send their
children to schools supported at public expense. All are educated and well educated. As our’s is a government
of the people, no where is education so necessary. The poor, too, ask no charity, when they demand universal
education. They constitute our militia and our police. They protect men in possession of property, as in other
countries, and do much more, they secure men in possession of a kind of property which they could not
hold a day but for the supervision and protection of the poor. This very property has rendered the South
merely agricultural, made population too sparse for neighborhood schools, prevented variety of pursuits,
and thus cut the poor off as well from the means of living, as from the means of education.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, pages: 144-145, 1854

“A large weekly newspaper might be furnished to every poor family in the State, at less than a
dollar a family. If there were not a teacher within fifty miles, some member of each family would
learn to read, first to get at the neighborhood news and scandals, the deaths, and marriages,
and murders. Gradually they would understand and become interested in the proceedings
of our government, and the news from foreign countries. The meanest newspaper in the
country is worth all the libraries in Christendom. It is desirable to know what the ancients
did, but it is necessary to know what our neighbors and fellow country-men are doing.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, page: 146, 1854

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