This little treatise on the True Constitution of Government was delivered as one of the regular course of lectures before the New York Merchants' Institute for the present winter. It is now published as the introductory number of a contemplated series of publications, presenting certain new principles of society, which it is the belief of the author are eminently adapted to supply the felt want of the present day for an adequate solution of the existing social disturbances. For the principles in question, either as original discoveries, or else as presented in a new light, as solvents of the knotty questions which are now puzzling the most capacious minds and afflicting the most benevolent hearts of Christendom, the author confesses his very great indebtedness, and he believes the world will yet gladly confess its indebtedness, to the genius of Josiah Warren, of Indiana, who has been engaged for more than twenty years in testing, almost in solitude, the practical operation, in the education of children, in the sphere of commerce, and otherwise, of the principles which we are now for the first time presenting prominently to the public.
It has been the belief of the author that there are, in the ranks of those who are denominated Conservatives, many who sympathize deeply with the objects of radical reform, but who have never identified themselves with the movements in that direction, either because they have not seen that the practical measures proposed by the advocates of reform contained the elements of success, or else because they have distinctly perceived or intuitively felt that they did not. They may have been repelled, too, by the want of completeness in the program, the want of scientific exactness in the principles announced, or, finally, by the want of a lucid conception of the real nature of the remedy which is needed for the manifold social evils of which all confess the existence in the actual condition of society. If there are minds in this position, minds more rigid than others in their demands for precise and philosophical principles preliminary to action, it is from such that the author anticipates the most cordial reception of the elements propounded by Mr. Warren, so soon as they are seen in their connections and interrelations with each other.
Believing that these principles will justify the assumption, I have ventured to place at the head of this series of publications, as a general title, "The Science of Society."
The propriety of the use of the term "Science" in such a connection may be questioned by some whom habit has accustomed to apply that term to a much lower range of investigations. If researches into the habits of beetles and tadpoles, and their localities and conditions of existence, are entitled to the dignified appellation of Science, certainly similar researches into the nature, the wants, the adaptations, and, so to speak, into the true or requisite moral and social habitat of the spiritual animal called Man must be, if conducted according to the rigid methods of scientific induction from observed facts, equally entitled to that distinction.
The series of works, of which this is the first in order, will deal in no vague aspirations after "the good time coming." They will propound definite principles which demand to be regarded as having all the validity of scientific truths, and which, taken in their co-relations with each other, are adequate to the solution of the social problem. If this pretension be made good, the importance of the subject will not be denied. If not well founded, the definiteness of the propositions will be favorable to a speedy and successful refutation.
New York, January 1851.