52 Quotes of John C. Calhoun

” In looking back, I see nothing to regret and little to correct. “
” The day that the balance between the two sections of the country – the slaveholding States and the non-slaveholding States – is destroyed is a day that will not be far removed from political revolution, anarchy, civil war, and widespread disaster. “
” Our government is deeply disordered; its credit is impaired; its debt increasing; its expenditures extravagant and wasteful; its disbursements without efficient accountability; and its taxes (for duties are but taxes) enormous, unequal, and oppressive to the great producing classes of the country. “
” Beware the wrath of a patient adversary. “
” The interval between the decay of the old and the formation and establishment of the new constitutes a period of transition which must always necessarily be one of uncertainty, confusion, error, and wild and fierce fanaticism. “
” Learn from your mistakes and build on your successes. “
” The strong should always permit the weak and aggrieved to talk, to bluster, and scold without taking offence; and if we had so acted, and exercised proper skill in the management of our affairs, Mexico and ourselves would, by this time, have quietly and peaceably settled all difficulties and been good friends. “
” The Government of the absolute majority instead of the Government of the people is but the Government of the strongest interests; and when not efficiently checked, it is the most tyrannical and oppressive that can be devised. “
” We make a great mistake in supposing all people are capable of self-government. “
” It is harder to preserve than to obtain liberty. “
” There was no measure that required greater caution or more severe scrutiny than one to impose taxes or raise a loan, be the form what it may. I hold that government has no right to do either, except when the public service makes it imperiously necessary, and then only to the extent that it requires. “
” It is no less the duty of the minority than a majority to endeavour to defend the country. “
” I am a planter – a cotton planter. I am a Southern man and a slaveholder – a kind and a merciful one, I trust – and none the worse for being a slaveholder. “
” There is but one nation on the globe from which we have anything serious to apprehend, but that is the most powerful that now exists or ever did exist. I refer to Great Britain. “
” By nature, every individual has the right to govern himself; and governments, whether founded on majorities or minorities, must derive their right from the assent, expressed or implied, of the governed,, and be subject to such limitations as they may impose. “
” In 1828 we raised the duties, on an average, to nearly fifty per cent, when the debt was on the eve of being discharged, and thereby flooded the country with a revenue, when discharged, which could not be absorbed by the most lavish expenditures. “
” The danger in our system is that the general government, which represents the interests of the whole, may encroach on the states, which represent the peculiar and local interests, or that the latter may encroach on the former. “
” Restore, without delay, the equilibrium between revenue and expenditures, which has done so much to destroy our credit and derange the whole fabric of government. If that should not be done, the government and country will be involved, ere long, in overwhelming difficulties. “
” I would rather be an independent senator, governed by my own views, going for the good of the country, uncontrolled by any thing which mortal man can bring to bear upon me, than to be president of the United States, put there as presidents of the United States have been for many years past. “
” I am utterly opposed to all equivocation or obscure expressions in our public acts. We are bound to say plainly what we mean to say. If we mean negotiation and compromise, let us say it distinctly and plainly instead of sending to the President a resolution on which he may put whatever interpretation he pleases. “
” England has not wholly escaped the curse which must ever befall a free government which holds extensive provinces in subjection; for, although she has not lost her liberty or fallen into anarchy, yet we behold the population of England crushed to the earth by the superincumbent weight of debt and taxation, which may one day terminate in revolution. “
” Were there no contrariety of interests, nothing would be more simple and easy than to form and preserve free institutions. The right of suffrage alone would be a sufficient guarantee. It is the conflict of opposing interests which renders it the most difficult work of man. “
” True consistency, that of the prudent and the wise, is to act in conformity with circumstances and not to act always the same way under a change of circumstances. “
” What is it but a cunningly devised scheme to take from one State and to give to another – to replenish the treasury of some of the States from the pockets of the people of the others; in reality, to make them support the governments and pay the debts of other States as well as their own? “
” A difference must be made between a decision against the constitutionality of a law of Congress and of a State. The former acts as a restriction on the powers of this government, but the latter as an enlargement. “
” Protection and patriotism are reciprocal. This is the way which has led nations to greatness. “
” Be assured that, as certain as Congress transcends its assigned limits and usurps powers never conferred, or stretches those conferred beyond the proper limits, so surely will the fruits of its usurpation pass into the hands of the Executive. In seeking to become master, it but makes a master in the person of the President. “
” A power has risen up in the government greater than the people themselves, consisting of many and various and powerful interests, combined into one mass, and held together by the cohesive power of the vast surplus in the banks. “
” Without thinking or reflecting, we plunge into war, contract heavy debts, increase vastly the patronage of the Executive, and indulge in every species of extravagance, without thinking that we expose our liberty to hazard. It is a great and fatal mistake. “
” Fanatics, as a class, have far more zeal than intellect and are fanatics only because they have. There can be no fanaticism but where there is more passion than reason; and hence, in the nature of things, movements originating in it run down in a short time by their folly and extravagance. “
” The country is filled with energetic and enterprising men, rendered desperate by being reduced from affluence to poverty through the vicissitudes of the times. They will give an impulse to smuggling unknown to the country heretofore. “
” The Union next to our liberties the most dear. May we all remember that it can only be preserved by respecting the rights of the States, and distributing equally the benefits and burdens of the Union. “
” The surrender of life is nothing to sinking down into acknowledgment of inferiority. “
” War, in our country, ought never to be resorted to but when it is clearly justifiable and necessary; so much so as not to require the aid of logic to convince our understanding nor the ardour of eloquence to inflame our passions. There are many reasons why this country should never resort to it but for causes the most urgent and necessary. “
” How can this full, perfect, just and supreme voice of the people, embodied in the Constitution, be brought to bear, habitually and steadily, in counteracting the fatal tendency of the government to the absolute and despotic control of the numerical majority? “
” A revolution in itself is not a blessing. The revolution accomplished by the French people is, indeed, a wonderful event – the most striking, in my opinion, in history; but it may lead to events which will make it a mighty evil. “
” I will not undertake to offer an opinion on the capacity of Hindustan to produce cotton. The region is large, and the soil and climate various, the population great and wages low; but I must be permitted to doubt the success of the experiment of driving us out of the market, though backed and patronized by English capital and energy. “
” What we want, above all things on earth in our public men, is independence. It is one great defect in the character of the public men of America that there is that real want of independence; and, in this respect, a most marked contrast exists between public men in this country and in Great Britain. “
” Remember, it is a deep principle of our nature not to regard the safety of those who do not regard their own. If you are indifferent to your own safety, you must not be surprised if those less interested should become more so. “
” With such irresistible evidence before us of the great and rapid progress of abolitionism without the slightest indication of abatement, he is blind who does not see, if the state of things which has caused it should be permitted to continue, that it will speedily be too late, if not to save ourselves, to save the Union. “
” I hold that there is a mysterious connection between the fate of this country and that of Mexico; so much so that her independence and capability of sustaining herself are almost as essential to our prosperity and the maintenance of our institutions as they are to hers. “
” None but a people advanced to a high state of moral and intellectual excellence are capable in a civilized condition of forming and maintaining free governments, and among those who are so far advanced, very few indeed have had the good fortune to form constitutions capable of endurance. “
” It is a remarkable fact in the political history of man that there is scarcely an instance of a free constitutional government which has been the work exclusively of foresight and wisdom. They have all been the result of a fortunate combination of circumstances. “
” When we contend, let us contend for all our rights – the doubtful and the certain, the unimportant and essential. It is as easy to contend, or even more so, for the whole as for a part. At the termination of the contest, secure all that our wisdom and valour and the fortune of war will permit. “
” It is a universal and fundamental political principle that the power to protect can safely be confided only to those interested in protecting, or their responsible agents – a maxim not less true in private than in public affairs. “
” We ought not to forget that the government, through all its departments, judicial as well as others, is administered by delegated and responsible agents; and that the power which really controls, ultimately, all the movements, is not in the agents, but those who elect or appoint them. “
” There is no direct and immediate connection between the individual citizens of a state and the general government. The relation between them is through the state. The Union is a union of states as communities and not a union of individuals. “
” It is a fundamental rule with me not to vote for a loan or tax bill till I am satisfied it is necessary for the public service, and then not if the deficiency can be avoided by lopping off unnecessary objects of expenditure or the enforcement of an exact and judicious economy in the public disbursements. “
” I am impressed with the belief that our naval force ought not to cost more in proportion than the British. In some things they may have the advantage, but we will be found to have equally great in others. “
” It is admitted on all sides that we must equalize the revenue and expenditures. The scheme of borrowing to make up an increasing deficit must, in the end, if continued, prove ruinous. “
” I know that there is a great diversity of opinion as to who, in fact, pays the duties on imports. I do not intend to discuss that point. We of the staple and exporting States have long settled the question for ourselves, almost unanimously, from sad experience. “
” Every increase of protective duties is necessarily followed, in the present condition of our country, by an expansion of the currency, which must continue to increase till the increased price of production, caused by the expansion, shall be equal to the duty imposed, when a new tariff will be required. “