Equal Rights For All. Special Privileges for None.

Printed version available at Barnes & Noble $21.99

eBook available at Barnes & Noble $5.50.

The phrase “Equal Rights For All. Special Privileges For None,” originated in the late 1820s and captured the essence of political reforms desired by the supporters of Andrew Jackson.


In the late 1880s, an organization of American citizens, primarily farmers from the South and Southwest, recognized that the existing system of agricultural debt peonage was unfair. Like Andrew Jackson’s followers, the farmers initially focused on a series of political reforms, called the Ocala Platform, which were intended to correct the abuses they saw in both the political and economic systems.

The intent of the reforms were directed at curbing the concentration of political power exercised by financial and industrial corporations by providing for stronger Federal government regulations of market behavior.

One of the leaders of the southern agrarian movement, Tom Watson, of Georgia, revived the phrase “Equal Rights For All. Special Privileges For None,” and placed it in the masthead of his newspaper.

The purpose of this book is to start over in American history, at the point of the anti-federalist arguments, and re-examine the Populist’s legacy of fair political participation, and to explore the question of the relationship between the pursuit of individual self interest, free market economics, and the constitutional public purpose.

The book’s main argument is that the adoption of the anti-federalist/agrarian arguments against centralized government would have been a better pathway to preserve individual freedom than Madison’s constitutional rules of procedure.


Author: Laurie Vass