George Fitzhugh on Government

A presentation of Fitzhughian thought on government 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

“There can never be a truthful science of government; for human prescience can never foresee and
provide for all the new circumstances that may arise requiring increase of law and government, or
extension of liberty. Wise statesmen will always act experimentally, tentatively and pathologically,
accordingly as change of times, manners, morals, surroundings and varying circumstances, internal
and extraneous, may dictate. It is but a corrollary from this proposition, that there never can be a
perfect and permanent written constitution of government, for all such constitutions assume to have
mastered the science of government, and to contain a truthful and perfect pro-gramme of national
conduct for future times. Children require more of government than adults; the weak and ignorant,
more than the wise and strong; the vicious, more than the virtuous; the idiotic and insane, more
than any other class. More law and government is needed in time of war than peace. More when
morals become corrupt and impure than when they were virtuous. National idiosyncracies, evenwhere
there is no inferiority of race, must regulate the amount of liberty that may be safely allowed. Hence,
no two nations can be governed alike, nor can any one nation be governed successfully without
frequent changes in its laws and institutions. The evils of excessive liberty, and consequent want
of protection to the weak, are the master evils and most alarming symptoms of the times.”
– George Fitzhugh, Liberty Versus Government, page: 2, 1867

“A society of fixed permanent casts and classes, whether so fixed by positive law, or by
fashion and public opinion, is happier, more quiet and contented, than a theoretically free,
equal and competitive society. The latter form of society is, however, far more conducive
to progress, improvement, invention, and the. accumulation of wealth than the former.
There is some undefinable, unascertained medium between the two, that would unite most
of the advantages of each, whilst avoiding the evils of each, that is most to be desired.”
– George Fitzhugh, Still Life in the Country, pages: 1-2, 1867

“Now, men and horses and all creatures subject to government, submit to be governed, but do not
consent to be governed; a consent government is no government, for it implies that all shall think
alike, consentio. But to constitute a government at all, the rulers must think for those who are ruled.
Those who consent are not governed, for to be governed implies that one is required and compelled
to do by a superior power, that which, left to himself, he would not do. He alone is governed whose
will is subjected and controlled by the will of another. He submits but does not consent.”
– George Fitzhugh, Revolutions of ’76 and ’61, page: 4, 1867

“Nothing has been so difficult and nothing so rare, in the annals of nations, as successful changes
in the form of government, brought about by the people governed. Rome, by the issue of the single
battle of Pharsalia, destroyed her Republic, but she never succeeded in establishing any other
stable, quiet, peaceful form of government in its stead. The Empire was kept alive by continual
successful coup (Petals or military usurpations. Royalty to this day has never flourished in Italy. All
the attachments and remin-iscences of her people are republican; and it is quite doubtful, whether
stable hereditary monarchy will even succeed there. So in Greece, since the days of her renowned
Republics, nothing has existed worthy of being called a government. France has now been trying
for more than three-fourths of a century to change her form of government, and has shed oceans
of blood in the attempt; yet no one believes that she has supplanted the indifferent government of the
Bourbons by anything fixed, stable or permanent. The government of Louis Napoleon, is his government,
not a French government, and expires with Louis Napoleon; his is a usurpative military eminently
parental, despotism; professedly an elective monarchy. When he dies, some one else, following
his example, will usurp the scepter-of Empire, and probably go through the pageant of election.”
– George Fitzhugh, Monarchy in America, page: 2, 1867

“Each State is a fully organized nationality; and is, and must continue to be a nation so long as it
has the parts, structure, organism and functions that belong to nationality. The old States grew up
into separate nationalities long before we had a federal government, and the new States, under
the protection of that government, have grown up in the same way. State rights result from State
organizations, not from constitutional grants, or inhibitions. These rights will remain, substantially
intact, until all of the States are fused into a common mass, and make one people and one nation,
as England, Ireland and Scotland have been. All institutions have an esprit de corps; are not only jealous
of their own rights, but even disposed, and endeavoring to encroach on the rights of others, and thus
to widen the limits of their power. Yet it is the rivalry, antagonism and warring discord of institutions
that preserve national life and progress. For, “All nature’s difference, keeps all nature’s peace.”
– George Fitzhugh, Monarchy in America, page: 3, 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

“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

“From that day to this, men have found it necessary to appoint the few to think and act for the
many, as well in religious as in political matters. In fine, to assert, and maintain in practice, the
Catholic doctrine of infallibility. Not the infallibility of a Pope and his council, but of a king, a
religious convention, a synod or general assembly, who settle and prescribe articles of faith,
and expel recreant church members who dare to assert the right of private judgment, and
think for themselves. In political matters, there is in all countries a tribunal which is deemed
infallible in its judgments, and from whose decisions there is no appeal.”
– George Fitzhugh, Impending Fate of the Country, page: 2, 1866

“All government would be tyrannical, and in the end impracticable, did not man’s anti
-selfish nature provide; a salutary and sufficient check and balance to his selfish nature.
The governed, by means of their very weakness and dependence sufficiently control
their governor, for in the moral world, weakness is strength.”
– George Fitzhugh, Antinomic Pathology, page: 5, 1863

“It is practicable and feasible, as it is classical. History, and hundreds of living and speaking
traditions, thousands of years older than history, concur in proving that it is the city constitutes the
nation. Throughout the torrid and milder temperate zones, the ruins of ancient cities-that were
ruins long ere the Man of History began to record the doings of human kind-belt the globe. These
cities were each great, wealthy, and highly-civilized nations, blooming like the rose in the desert,
in the midst of surrounding barrenness and barbarism. They are ever-living traditions that teach
with mute eloquence that the city is the human hive, the natural and the best residence of man.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Republic of New-York, page: 1, 1861

“The anatomy of a small man displays the same parts, members, and functions, as that of the giant;
and the small man is active, and intellectual, and wields his powers of mind and body so skilfully as
to be an over-match for the stupid and clumsy giant. In like manner small nations bring into requisition
and action the same talents, the same skill, the same learning, the same statesmanship, the same
trades, professions, and other industrial pursuits, as large ones. Civilization be-comes intense and
universal, because each citizen feels that the welfare and safety of the State depends upon his own
exertions. Each fraction of a large empire that has fallen to pieces is apt to become greater than the
whole empire before its fall. There is not a state in Europe which once formed a part of the Roman
Empire, which has not been more distinguished in literature, science, art, and arms, at some period
of its history, than the whole Roman Empire, from the days of Tiberius to those of Attila and Alaric.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Republic of New-York, page: 2, 1861

“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

“In fact, it is the chief business of all Governments, by some means, to make men work,
whether black or white, for Government undertakes to provide for all its subjects, and it
can only do so from the common fund created by the industry of all. All labor is compulsory,
and only differs in the mode of compulsion. Hickories for negroes, and the fear of cold
and hunger and nakedness for white men, are equally efficacious.”
– George Fitzhugh, Hayti and the Monroe Doctrine, page: 3, 1861

“Since Moses invaded Palestine, it has never been doubted by learned civilians,
nor wise statesmen, nor by common sense, practical men, that when a people
showed an utter incapacity for self-government, that any nation qualified to
govern them properly, may very properly subjugate them, and leave them
no more liberty than they are qualified to enjoy without abusing it.”
– George Fitzhugh, Hayti and the Monroe Doctrine, page: 3, 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

“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

“We- will now say, Mr. Editor, once for all, how far we agree and sympathize with the American Party. They are
right, eminently right and natural, in preferring the native to the foreigner. All people have done this. In the first
place, it is necessary to self-defence and self-preservation. If foreigners are let in to enjoy all our advantages in
good and prosperous times, without being forced to come in and help us in adverse times, the unequal game
must ruin us. But chiefly and principally, the foreigner, cut off entirely from the influences of home connections,
and of public opinion, is wholly unreliable, because he has no interests, no sympathies, no feelings, in common
with the community to which he has removed. We have induced immigration by holding out promises of equal
rights. Let every foreigner now in America be treated in all respects as if he were native born ; but let not another
come with such delusive expectations. We would promptly shut the door in the face of every man who was not
content that his posterity, not himself, should become Americans. In this we but follow nature, and the time is
at hand, near at hand, when none but native born will be admitted to citizenship. We care not how soon, for we
know that to enrich.-or elevate ‘ a foreigner, can only be done by depressing or impoverishing a native. No man
ever did or ever will make a fortune. Cunning and skill alone, in dealing, transfer the labors of the many to the
few. We don’t want cunning foreigners to =planate simple, hard-working Americans. A home, in which every
one votes, and vulgar demagogues hold office, is no more attractive than a bar-room or a pig-sty.”
– George Fitzhugh, Make Home More Attractive, page: 10, 1860

“Government cannot exist “in vacuo.” It must be kept moving in its proper orbit by forces “ab extra,” or “ab infra.”
“Quit custodiet ipsos custodes?” is a pertinent question as to all governments. Inward or outward necessity-force
from within or without-are necessary to all governments. Perpetual motion is as gross an absurdity in the moral
as in the physical world. This “wheel within a wheel” is one of the hundred “mare’s nests” which our wise ancestors
discovered. A war with Mexico and Spain, a new impulse ab extra will keep it going a while longer. But the thing,
as a government, is a bald humbug, and we feel it our duty to expose it.”
– George Fitzhugh, Make Home More Attractive, page: 11, 1860

“The laws of every country have treated treason as the greatest of crimes, and the law
but expresses the universal opinion and feeling of mankind. When murder and regicide
are super added to treason, it is but treason still. No moral node, no government could
continue to exist if it were once admit-ted that any circumstance could justify treason or
regicide. Law must bind all or none. To admit that the subject, under any circumstances,
may violate the law, is to put the individual above the law ; to give up the weal of society
to the ca-prices of private judgment. A high expediency, a dice necessity, a certainty of
bettering the condition of society, may extenuate, but cannot justify such acts.”
– George Fitzhugh, Milton and Macaulay page: 6, 1860

“The high degree of intelligence and refinement attained by the masses in the cities of Greece and of Rome under
their parental forms of government, is now only credible to those who have carefully studied the subject. The long,
severe, and elaborate education of their public speakers, was all a mere training to prepare them to address the
common people. What people must they have been who would detect the smallest fault in gesture or pronunciation,
whose orators studied a long course of philosophy, submitted to be trained in graceful action by Roscius and other
distinguished actors of the day: who, after all this, tediously and elaborately wrote out their orations, and one of
whom, Caius Gracchus, had to keep a slave with a pitch-pipe behind him, for fear that by a false key or note in
speaking he might offend their sensitive ears. Then it required twenty years of hard study to prepare oneself
to rise up to the public taste. Now it takes ten years rough practice of all sorts of vulgar slang, low wit, coarse
action, and obstreperous buffoonery, to bring oneself down to the tastes of the American people. Demand begets
supply; the oratory of an age or people exactly represents the moral and intellectual standard of that people.”
– George Fitzhugh, Modern Civilization, page: 2, 1860

“We must, in a republic, first elevate the people if we would elevate their rulers. Public taste and sentiment are
utterly vulgarized and deformed, and politicians first affect and soon learn a coarseness, vulgarity, and “brusquerie”
adapted to the tastes of their constituents. Abruptness of manner and slang in conversation are the distinguishing
traits of American politicians, because they are indispensable to success before the people. To be refined is to be
aristocratic, and to be aristocratic be ostracised. Now, we are sure that an aristocracy is a necessary element
of every civilized society. Every.’ body else thinks as we do. Everybody is struggling to make aristocrats of his
posterity-to found a name, a house, a family. ‘Tis the highest of all human merit, in the opinion of us ail, to leave
wealth, education, morality, and refinement to our remote posterity. ‘Tis a crime to have respectable ancestry,
the noblest of achievements to found a respectable posterity. In truth, respectable antecedents and collaterals
should be considered no more disgraceful than respectable children and great grand-children. Respectable
ancestry can harm nobody, because the dead cannot cheat; but a respect-able posterity can only be built on
the ruins and misfortunes of others, or exploitated from their labors.”
– George Fitzhugh, Modern Civilization, page: 2, 1860

“In our zeal to show up and resist the agrarian and anarchical tendencies of the age in which we live, we may
have run into the opposite extreme, and suggested despotism as the only cure for approximating anarchy. Our
deliberate opinion is, that neither Unrestricted liberty nor unrestricted despotism is desirable; that in government,
as in everything else, there is a juste milieu Which may be felt, but not defined; that is the line of rectitude. We
are the special friends of no particular form of government. Different nations require different forms-a republic
suits a young and growing people best. Little rule and much liberty do to begin with. But governmental institutions
must grow as the nation grows. Laws must become more numerous, complex, and rigid, as population becomes
dense, the means of subsistence scarce, and the temptations to crime numerous. The tenure of office and the
tenure of property must be rendered more stable and permanent, as society goes through the natural processes
of subsidence and stratification. Social conditions, fixed, classified, and hereditary, would be a curse to a new
country; they are essential to the existence of society in old ones. Seriously disrupt them, and revolution,
proscription, civil war, and fratricidal slaughter, hold high carnival, as in the days of the guillotine.”
– George Fitzhugh, Our Athenian Friend, pages: 1-2, 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

“‘Tis an historical fact, that this family association, this patriarchal government, for purposes
of defence against enemies from without, gradually merges into larger associations of men
under a common government or ruler. This latter is the almost universal, and we may thence
infer, natural and normal condition of civilized man. In this state of society there is no liberty
for the masses. Liberty has been exchanged by nature for security.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 108, 1857

“Our Revolution, so wise in its conception and so glorious in its execution, was the mere assertion by
adults of the rights of adults, and had nothing more to do with philosophy than the weaning of a calf. It
was the act of a people seeking national independence, not the Utopian scheme of speculative philosophers,
seeking to establish human equality and social perfection.But the philosophers seized upon it, as they
had upon the Reformation, and made it the unwilling and unnatural parent of the largest and most
hideous brood of ills that had ever appeared at one birth, since the opening of the box of Pandora. Bills
of Rights, Acts of Religious Freedom and Constitutions, besprinkled with doctrines directly at war with
all stable government, seem to be the basis on which our institutions rest. But only seem to be; for,
in truth, our laws and government are either old Anglo-Saxon prescriptive arrangements, or else the
gradual accretions of time, circumstance and necessity. Throw our paper platforms, preambles and
resolutions, guaranties and constitutions, into the fire, and we should be none the worse off, provided
we retained our institutions-and the necessities that begat, and have, so far, continued them.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, pages: 198-199, 1857

“If government on paper were really useless and harmless, we should say nothing about it. But it is
fraught with danger, first because we are apt to rely on it for safety and security of rights, and secondly
because it rarely suits the occasion. Men and societies are endowed by Providence generally with
sufficient knowledge and judgment to act correctly or prudently under circumstances as they arise;
but they cannot foresee or provide for the future, nor lay down rules for other people’s conduct. All
platforms, resolutions, bills of rights and constitutions, are true in the particular, false in the general.
Hence all legislation should be repealable, and those instruments are but laws. Fundamental principles,
or the higher law, are secrets of nature which God keeps to himself. The vain attempt of “frequent
recurrence to them,” is but the act of the child who builds card houses, for the pleasure of knocking
them down. Recurrence to fundamental principles and appeals to the higher law, are but the tocsin
of revolution that may upset everything, but which will establish nothing, because no two men
are agreed as to what the higher law, alias “fundamental principles,” is.
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 200, 1857

“Moses, and Lycurgus, and Solon, and Numa, built their institutions to last, enjoined it on the people
never to change them, and threw around them the sanctity of religion, to ward off the sacrilegious hand
of future innovation. “A frequent recurrence to fundamental principles,” and the kicking down of card
houses, was not part of their science of government. We have often thought, that of all the lost arts, the
art of government was the only one whose loss we would deplore, or whose recovery is worth the pains
of study and research. To us it seems that “first causes,” “fundamental principles,” and the “higher law,”
mean one and the same thing: An “ignis fatuus,” that it is dangerous to pursue, and hopeless to overtake.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 201, 1857

“We would not restrict, control, or take away a single human right or liberty, which experience
showed was already sufficiently governed and restricted by public opinion. But we do believe
that the slaveholding South is the only country on the globe, that can safely tolerate the rights
and liberties which we have discussed. The annals of revolutionary Virginia were illustrated by
three great and useful men. The mighty mind of Jefferson, fitted to pull down; the plastic hand
of Madison to build up, and the powerful arm of Washington to defend, sustain and conserve.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, pages: 202-203, 1857

“We do not agree with the authors of the Declaration of Independence, that governments “derive their just powers
from the consent of the governed.” The women, the children, the negroes, and but few of the non-property holders
were consulted, or consented to the Revolution, or the governments that ensued from its success. As to these, the
new governments were self-elected despotisms, and the governing class self-elected despots. Those governments
originated in force, and have been continued by force. All governments must originate in force, and be continued by
force. The very term, government, implies that it is carried on against the consent of the governed. Fathers do not
derive their authority, as heads of families, from the consent of wife and children, nor do they govern their families by
their consent. They never take the vote of the family as to the labors to be performed, the moneys to be expended,
or as to anything else. Masters dare not take the vote of slaves, as to their government. If they did, constant holiday,
dissipation and extravagance would[Pg 354] be the result. Captains of ships are not appointed by the consent of the crew,
and never take their vote, even in “doubling Cape Horn.” If they did, the crew would generally vote to get drunk, and
the ship would never weather the cape. Not even in the most democratic countries are soldiers governed by their consent,
nor is their vote taken on the eve of battle. They have some how lost (or never had) the “inalienable rights of life, liberty
and the pursuit of happiness;” and, whether Americans or Russians, are forced into battle, without and often against
their consent. The ancient republics were governed by a small class of adult male citizens, who assumed and exercised
the government, without the consent of the governed. The South is governed just as those ancient republics were. In the
county in which we live, there are eighteen thousand souls, and only twelve hundred voters. But we twelve hundred, the
governors, never asked and never intend to ask the consent of the sixteen thousand eight hundred whom we govern.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 354, 1857

“If the interests of the governors, or governing class, be not conservative, they certainly
will not conserve institutions injurious to their interests. There never was and never can
be an old society, in which the immediate interests of a majority of human souls do not
conflict with all established order, all right of property, and all existing institutions. Immediate
interest is all the mass look to; and they would be sure to revolutionize government, as
often as the situation of the majority was worse than that of the minority. Divide all property
today, and a year hence the inequalities of property would provoke a re-division.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 355, 1857

“We think speculations as to constructing governments are little worth; for all government is the gradual
accretion of Nature, time and circumstances. Yet these theories have occurred to us, and, as they are
conservative, we will suggest them. In slaveholding countries all freemen should vote and govern,
because their interests are conservative. In free states, the government should be in the hands of the
land-owners, who are also conservative. A system of primogeniture, and entails of small parcels of
land, might, in a great measure, identify the interests of all; or, at least, those who held no lands would
generally be the children and kinsmen of those who did, and be taken care of by them. The frequent
accumulation of large fortunes, and consequent pauperism of the masses, is the greatest evil of
modern society. Would not small entails prevent this? All cannot own lands, but as many should
own them as is consistent with good farming and advanced civilization. The social institutions of the
Jews, as established by Moses and Joshua, most nearly fulfill our ideas of perfect government.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 359, 1857

“Let Alone” is made to usher in No-Government. North and South our danger is the same, and our remedies,
though differing in degree, must in character be the same. “Let Alone” must be repudiated, if we would have
any Government. We must, in all sections, act upon the principle that the world is “too little governed,” You of
the North need not institute negro slavery; far less reduce white men to the state of negro slavery. But the masses
require more of protection, and the masses and philosophers equally require more of control. Leave it to time
and circumstances to suggest the necessary legislation; but, rely upon it, “Anarchy, plus the street constable,”
wont answer any longer. The Vigilance Committee of California is but a mob, rendered necessary by the inadequacy
of the regular government. It is the “vis medicatrix naturæ,” vainly attempting to discharge the office of physician.
That country is “too little governed,” where the best and most conservative citizens have to resolve themselves
into mobs and vigilance committees to protect rights which government should, but does not, protect.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, pages: 359-360, 1857

“There are three kinds of force that occur to us will sustain a government. First, “inside necessity,” such as
slavery, that occasions a few to usurp power, and to hold it forcibly, without consulting the many; secondly,
the force of foreign pressure or aggression, which combines men and States together for common defence;
and thirdly, the inherent force of a prescriptive or usurpative government, which sustains itself by standing
armies. Such are all the governments of Western Europe. Not one of them could exist forty-eight hours, but
for the standing armies. These standing armies became necessary and grew up as slavery disappeared. The
old Barons kept the Canaille, the Proletariat, the Sans Culottes, the Nomadic Beggars, in order, by lashing their
backs and supplying their wants. They must be fed and kept at work. Modern society tries to effect this (but in
vain) by moral suasion and standing armies. Riots, mobs, strikes and revolutions are daily occurring. The mass
of mankind cannot be governed by Law. More of despotic discretion, and less of Law, is what the world wants.
We take our leave by saying, “There is too much of Law and too little of Government in this world.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 361, 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. Louisiana, Florida and Texas would have been
denied to the South under strict construction, and she would have been ruined. A constitution, strictly
construed, is absolutely inconsistent with permanent national existence.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 362, 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

“Liberty is an evil which government is intended to correct. This is the sole object of government.
Taking these premises, it is easy enough to refute free trade. Admit liberty to be a good, and
you leave no room to argue that free trade is an evil, – because liberty is free trade. With thinking
men, the question can never arise, who ought to be free? Because no one ought to be free. All
government is slavery. The proper subject of investigation for philosophers and philanthropists
is, “Is the existing mode of government adapted to the wants of its subjects?”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, pages: 170-171, 1854

“It is, we believe, conceded on all hands, that men are not born physically, morally or intellectually equal,
some are males, some females, some from birth, large, strong and healthy, others weak, small and sickly
some are naturally amiable, others prone to all kinds of wickednesses – some brave, others timid. Their
natural inequalities beget inequalities of rights. The weak in mind or body require guidance, support and
protection; they must obey and work for those who protect and guide them – they have a natural right to
guardians, committees, teachers or masters. Nature has made them slaves; all that law and government
can do, is to regulate, modify and mitigate their slavery. In the absence of legally instituted slavery, their
condition would be worse under that natural slavery of the weak to the strong, the foolish to the wise
and cunning. The wise and virtuous, the brave, the strong in mind and body, are by nature born to
command and protect, and law but follows nature in making them rulers, legislators, judges, captains,
husbands, guardians, committees and masters. The naturally depraved class, those born prone to
crime, are our brethren too; they are entitled to education, to religious instruction, to all the means
and appliances proper to correct their evil propensities, and all their failings; they have a right to
be sent to the penitentiary, – for there, if they do not reform, they cannot at least disturb society.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, pages: 177-178, 1854

“We may fairly conclude, that liberty is alienable, that there is a natural right to alien it, first, because the laws
and institutions of all countries have recognized and regulated its alienation; and secondly, because we cannot
conceive of a civilized society, in which there were no wives, no wards, no apprentices, no sailors and no soldiers;
and none of these could there be in a country that practically carried out the doctrine, that liberty is inalienable.
The soldier who meets death at the cannon’s mouth, does so because he has aliened both life and liberty. Nay,
more, he has aliened the pursuit of happiness, else he might desert on the eve of battle, and pursue happiness
in some more promising quarter than the cannon’s mouth. If the pursuit of happiness be inalienable, men should
not be punished for crime, for all crimes are notoriously committed in the pursuit of happiness.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, page: 181, 1854

“Lay your foundations of government on what principles you please, organize its powers in what form you
choose, and you cannot foresee the results. You can only tell what laws, institutions and governments will
effect, when you apply them to the same race or nation under the same circumstances in which they have
already been tried. But philosophy then was in the chrysalis state. She has since deluged the world with
blood, crime and pauperism. She has had full sway, and has inflicted much misery, and done no good. The
world is beginning to be satisfied, that it is much safer and better, to look to the past, to trust to experience,
to follow nature, than to be guided by the ignis fatuus of a priori speculations of closet philosophers. If all
men had been created equal, all would have been competitors, rivals, and enemies. Subordination,
difference of caste and classes, difference of sex, age and slavery beget peace and good will.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, pages: 182-183, 1854

“Institutions are what men can sees feel, venerate and understand. The institutions of Moses and of Alfred
remain to this day, those of Numa and Lycurgus had a long and flourishing life. These sages laid down no
abstract propositions, founded their institutions on no general principles, had no written constitutions. They
were wise from experience, adopted what history and experience had tested, and never trusted to a priori
speculations, like a More, a Locke, a Jefferson, or an Abbe Sieyes. Constitutions should never be written
till several centuries after governments have been instituted, for it requires that length of time to ascertain
how institutions will operate. No matter how you define and limit, in words, the powers and duties of
each department of government, they will each be sure to exercise as much power as possible, and
to encroach to the utmost of their ability on the powers of other departments.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, page: 187, 1854

“Almost the only secret of high civilization and national greatness consists in narrow and confined
territorial limits. Beget the necessity for exercise of all the functions of government, all the mechanic
and artistic arts, for the cultivation of all the sciences, and for the pursuit of all the avocations of
civilized life by a small population, and intense enlightenment and universal education are the
immediate result. History, ancient and modern, teaches but one lesson on this subject.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, page: 202, 1854

“In framing and revising the institutions and government of a nation, and in enacting its laws, sensible and
prudent statesmen study carefully the will of God and designs of Providence, as revealed in Holy Writ, or
as gathered from history and experience. “Truth is mighty, and will prevail,” and laws in contravention of
the great truths deducible from these sources, will become nugatory and inefficient. Yet whilst the law
is on the statute book, every citizen is bound to respect and obey it, or else take the consequences of
trespass, felony or treason. He may discuss the question, “Does the law coincide with the ‘Higher Law’?”
but he may not act on his conclusions if they be against the law. Does slavery violate the Higher Law?
Certainly not, if that Higher Law is to be found in the Bible. Certainly not, if you throw aside the Bible,
and infer what is right, proper, and natural, from the course of nature, the lessons of history, or the
voice of experience. But consult the same sources for your Higher Law, and as certainly is free
society a violation of the laws of Nature and the revealed will of God.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, page: 204, 1854

“We believe in the capacity of the people to govern, and would not deny them the opportunity to exercise
that capacity. We think there is no danger from too much or too popular government, provided we avoid
centralization, and distribute as much as possible to small localities powers of police and legislation. We
would cherish and preserve all our institutions as they are, adding to them probably larger separate
governmental powers to be vested in the people of each county. The cause of popular government is on
the advance. The printing press, railroads, steamships and the telegraph afford opportunities for information,
consultation and combination. But these agencies, which will make governments more popular, will at the
same time render them more efficient, all-pervading, rigid and exact. Ancient Republicanism will supplant
Laissez-faire Republicanism; – and ancient Republicanism we admire and prefer.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, page: 207, 1854

“Reformations always do good, revolutions always harm. All old institutions in time become incrusted with
error and abuse, and frequent reforms are required to keep them in good working order, and to adapt them
to the gradually changing circumstances of mankind. This is equally true of religious institutions as of political
ones, for there is much in the machinery and external manifestations of the former, that is of mere human
origin and contrivance, – and everything human is liable to imperfection and decay. Total changes, which
revolutions propose, are never wise or practicable, because most of the institutions of every country are
adapted to the manners, morals and sentiments of the people. Indeed, the people have been moulded in
character by those institutions, and they cannot be torn asunder and others substituted, for none others
will fit. Hence reforms result in permanent change and improvement. Revolutions, after a great waste
of blood and treasure, leave things to return soon to the “status quo ante bellum.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, page: 208, 1854

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