Law

The law is one of those things that make people nervous.  It is a misunderstood subject that just like anything else has a beginning and has evolved.  In this section, we will try to list the majority works that, over time, have had the most impact on law as we know it.

Patriarcha, or the Natural Power of Kings [1680]

Sir Robert Filmer wrote, in the aftermath of the English Revolution which saw the execution of a king and the creation of a Commonwealth and the restoration of the monarchy, a solid defense of the divine right of kings.  This, in turn, prompted John Locke to write a riposte – part 1 of the Two Treatises of Government.  The Two Treatises of Government is the Foundation of Common Law that our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution were founded on.

Sir Robert Filmer’s 1680 work is available in the following formats – HTML, HTML by Chapter, Simplified HTML, Facsimile PDF, Kindle, EBook PDF, & E-pub in the link below:

Patriarcha, or the Natural Power of Kings [1680]

 

The Two Treatises of Government [1689]

The Two Treatises of Government or “Two Treatises of Government: In the Former, The False Principles and Foundation of Sir Robert Filmer, And His Followers, are Detected and Overthrown. The Latter is an Essay concerning The True Original, Extent, and End of Civil-Government” is a work of political philosophy published anonymously in 1689 by John Locke. The First Treatise attacks patriarchalism in the form of sentence-by-sentence refutation of Robert Filmer’s Patriarcha, while the Second Treatise outlines Locke’s ideas for a more civilized society based on natural rights and contract theory.

John Locke’s 1689 work is available in PDF format in the link below:

The Two Treatises of Government [1689]

or, you may listen online or download the audio from LibriVox at this address:

LibriVox recording of Two Treatises of Government

 

The Law

The Law, original French title La Loi, is a 1850 book by Frédéric Bastiat. It was written two years after the third French Revolution. The essay was influenced by John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government.  It is the work for which Bastiat is most famous.

In The Law, Bastiat says “each of us has a natural right – from God – to defend his person, his liberty, and his property”. The State is a “substitution of a common force for individual forces” to defend this right. The law becomes perverted when it is used to violate the rights of the individual, when it punishes one’s right to defend himself again a collective effort of others to legislatively enact laws which basically have the same effect of plundering.

Justice has precise limits but philanthropy is limitless and government can grow endlessly when that becomes its function. The resulting statism is “based on this triple hypothesis: the total inertness of mankind, the omnipotence of the law, and the infallibility of the legislator”. The relationship between the public and the legislator becomes “like the clay to the potter”. Bastiat says, “I do not dispute their right to invent social combinations, to advertise them, to advocate them, and to try them upon themselves, at their own expense and risk. But I do dispute their right to impose these plans upon us by law – by force – and to compel us to pay for them with our taxes”.

Frédéric Bastiat’s 1850 work is available in PDF, HTML or ebook format in the link below:

The Law, Frédéric Bastiat [1850]

or, you may listen online or download the audio from this address:

Download the MP3 Audio of The Law, Frédéric Bastiat [1850]

 

Essay On The Trial By Jury

Lysander Spooner gives an eye opening look and explanation of our judicial system and why the trial by jury is so important as one of the checks and balances of our constitution.  As a check on the government’s power, it allows “the people” to keep government from issuing oppressive laws. The people, who are the final arbiter of a laws fairness by their decision to convict or acquit, are left in control of their government. Despite the fact that judges and lawyers and others try to make a jury work “within” the system, the fact is, juries are allowed, encouraged and expected to judge the laws for themselves as members of the community as to their fairness. This process is called jury nullification. By this act, juries keep laws they deem just, fair and honest. Those meant to deprive person of  rest are simply ignored. This is true in murder vs. self-defense, taxes, anything.

Spooner basically asserts that without this time honored tradition; a judge, lawyer or any official of the court or government can limit a jury to work strictly within the law that the trial is no longer a trial by jury or “the people” but a trial by the state, with an outcome that can be dictated and decided by it as well. In fact, even the act of a judge not allowing evidence in for consideration voids the trial and should immediately result in dismissal. The jury is allowed to hear all evidence, despite what technicality it is not allowed in for. They are the sole arbiter of what is right and wrong, good or evil. It is felt that no great knowledge of law is necessary to decide if someone is guilty or innocent and even if a law was broken the jury has every right to find a person innocent if they feel that what transpired was the right thing to do.

Essay on the Trial by Jury [Downloadable PDF]

or, you may listen online or download the audio from LibriVox at this address:

Download the MP3 Audio of Essay of the Trial by Jury

You can also download the kindle version of the book for FREE HERE:

 

A Concise History of the Common Law (1929)

Theodore Frank Thomas Plucknett’s work provides a common-law understanding of individual rights, not in theory only, but protected through the confusing and messy evolution of courts, and their administration as they struggled to resolve real problems. The first half of the book is a historical introduction to the study of law. Plucknett discusses the conditions in political, economic, social, and religious thought that have contributed to the genesis of law. The second half of the book consists of chapters introducing the reader to the history of some of the main divisions of law, such as criminal tort, property, contract, and succession.

You can download the pdf HERE
(please be patient, this is a 128 megabyte download and may take a bit to download because it is a direct scan of the actual book)