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CHAPTER I. Of Man as fitted for Society, and for Civil Government
1. It has been maintained that the savage state is the only natural state of man, and that he can, in no other state, be perfectly happy. It is supposed that social improvement generates a wicked disposition in man, which might, in an uncivilized state, forever lie dormant; and that civil government has a tendency to encourage vice, and becomes the cause of the miseries that exist in society, instead of preventing them.
2. Others maintain that the necessity of laws arises from the wicked disposition of man; that they are necessary only to restrain the evil and violent passions; and to prevent the miseries which men are prone to inflict on each other: consequently, were all men truly virtuous and purely benevolent, laws for their government would be wholly unnecessary.
3. There are others who hold that man was originally
1. What is said of man in the savage state; and of the effect of civil government on man's happiness?. 2. From what do others say arises the necessity of laws? 3. What other opinion is held designed for civil government, and that he is under a necessity of nature to adopt it; but who hold, at the same time, that, on entering into civil society, he necessarily gives up a portion of his natural liberty, of his natural rights, to secure the remainder. It seems to follow, as the conclusion of this theory, that man is but partially fitted for civil society. This opinion, however, is supported by many of the most distinguished political writers.
4. But a theory somewhat different from these, and, it is believed, a more correct one, has been adopted by some writers, who maintain, that man is fitted for society by the constitution and laws of his nature; and that, for the secure enjoyment of both natural and civil rights, government and laws are necessary to social beings, with whatever virtues they may be endued.
5. But whatever difference of opinion may prevail in
regard to the correctness of these several theories, few, it is presumed, will doubt, that man is fitted by nature for society and civil government; and that, in his present state, civil government and laws are necessary for the regulation of his conduct.
6. “Man is so formed by nature,” says Wattel, “that he cannot suffer by himself, and he necessarily stands in need of the assistance and support of creatures like himself, to preserve and protect his own being, and to enjoy the life of a rational animal. This is sufficiently proved by experience. We have instances of men nourished among the bears, who had neither a language nor the use of reason, and, like the beasts, had only the sensual powers.
7. “We see moreover that nature has refused men the
natural strength and arms with which she has furnished other animals, giving them, instead of these advantages, those of reason and speech, or at least of acquiring them by a commerce with their fellow beings. Speech enables them to converse with each other, and to extend and raise
on this subject? To what conclusion does this theory lead? 4. What other theory has been adopted, in relation to man's capacity for society and civil government, and the necessity of laws? 6, 7,
to perfection their reason and knowledge; and, being thus rendered intelligent, they find a thousand methods of preserving themselves, and supplying their wants. Every one also becomes sensible that he can neither live happily, nor improve himself, without the assistance and conversation of others. Since, then, nature has thus formed mankind, it is a manifest proof that she has designed they should converse with one another, and grant to each other their mutual assistance.” 8. That man is by nature designed for society, may be inferred also from his appetite to associate with his fellow man. The appetite or propensity for this association, and the pleasure derived from it, are common to all mankind, and evidently originate in their nature. 9. Man seems equally fitted for civil government. He has been endowed with high moral and intellectual faculties. He has the power to discern his own wants and the wants of others. He has a moral perception of what is right and what is wrong, and a sense of his obligation to do what is right, and to forbear to do what is wrong. His reason enables him to understand the meaning of laws, and to discover what laws are necessary to regulate human actions. 10. Patriotism, or love of country, prevails universally among mankind; and this national attachment leads men to seek and to promote the welfare of the community to which they belong, and contributes much to the fitting of them for civil government. 11. But with all his adaptation to society, and his capacities for civil government, man, being imperfect, will be guilty of deviating from the rule of rectitude, and of infringing the rights of others. Whether this transgression be the consequence of ignorance, weakness in judging, or inattention in examining; or whether it result from a disposition habitually vicious; laws are necessary to regulate the conduct of men toward each other, and to secure to the members of a community the enjoyment of their rights. Without laws, there would be no security to person or property; the evil passions of men would prompt them to commit all manner of wrongs against each other, and render society, (if society can be said to exist without law,) a scene of violence and confusion.
8. How is man formed by nature? How is this proved? What advantage does man derive from the faculty of speech? 9, 10. Wherein consists the evidence that man is fitted for civil government? 11. Why are laws fiecessary to regulate the conduct of men?
Of Rights and Liberty.—Natural, Civil and Political Rights and Liberty—Right of Opinion.
12. THE word right, when applied to action, signifies what is fit and proper to be done, as opposed to wrong. But as a substantive, in the sense in which it is here used, it means the just title or claim which a person has to any thing; and it signifies that the thing belongs to him who is said to have the right. Thus it is declared in the American Declaration of Independence: “that all men are endowed with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; and that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.”
13. The object of civil institutions is, or ought to be, the security of those personal rights, in the full and free enjoyment of which true liberty consists. The rights of mankind are denominated, first, natural rights; secondly, political rights; and thirdly, civil rights.
12. What is the definition of the word right, as applied to action? What as a substantive? In what sense is it here used? 13. What is the object of civil institutions? 14. What are natural rights?