Why Is Allegiance Due? and Where Is It Due?: An Address Delivered Before the National Union Association of Cincinnati, June 2, 1863 (Classic Reprint)

Fb&c Limited, 12.07.2015 - 32 Seiten
Excerpt from Why Is Allegiance Due? And Where Is It Due?: An Address Delivered Before the National Union Association of Cincinnati, June 2, 1863

There are two questions pertaining to civil government which are fundamental: Why do we owe allegiance to Government? And, Where do we owe it? In other words, what is the ground of my obligation to render obedience to civil authority; and, in cases of conflict, to what authority shall I render it?

AS to the first of these questions, there is a theory somewhat current, that all the authority of a State or Nation comes from the individual citizen. It assumes that, prior to civil society, the individual man has certain rights, by the giving up of which civil society and government are formed. It is sometimes said that a man gives up a portion of his rights for the greater security of the remainder. The theory supposes that men come together and depo'sit a portion of their rights and powers in a common stock; and that no government can legitimately exercise any powers except those thus deposited. According to this, the power originally resides in the individual citizens; and until they give it up, each for himself, there can be no such thing as civil government.

To this theory there are divers objections. Suppose the individual man does not choose to place in the common stock his infinitesimal portion of civil power; how is it to be taken from him? Plainly, civil government on such a theory would be well-nigh an impossibility. The majority could never bind the minority. AS new generations came upon the stage, they would remain free from all obligations to obey law and government until they had voluntarily, and each one for himself, thus given up their individual rights. We should have nations containing multitudes of men over whom the law and the ruler could have no con trol - privileged characters, acknowledging and owing no allegiance to any civil power. Nvere the theory true, such cases would be found. But no nation, civilized or barbarous, will acknowledge that it contains any such class among its citizens. Outlaws there may be, and are; but nowhere do we find a class of men who, because they have never made any surrender of their individual rights, claim to owe neither allegiance nor obedience to civil government, and have their claim allowed.

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