Shire Society Declaration Available for Download

Thanks to James “Puke” Schmill for donating his time as a photographer to create the high quality Shire Society Declaration documents The document was signed by a number of wonderful activists from Porcfest, with a final few signatures from the Keene area.

Shire Deceleration One

Declaration Two:
Shire Decleration Two

Here they are as high resolution PDF documents:

Declaration One:
Shire Doc One.pdf

Shire Doc Two.pdf

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  1. A beautiful document, I am proud that my signature is on it. I feel like a free man.

  2. Love these documents – but I live in Ohio. 🙁

    May we use a copy of your document here in Ohio and in other states?


  3. Oh, that's a good one, Michelle!

    I don't speak for anyone but myself, but I think it is safe to say that you can do whatever you want with any information found here.

  4. The document you admire is not The Shire's to give away. It is plagiarized from the Covenant of Unanimous Consent, written by L. Neil Smith and first published in The Gallatin Divergence in 1985. The original document is here: If you admire the ideas contained in the document, and if you have respect for the author, please do not accept the castrated version, nor encourage those who usurped it.

  5. I hope there are more declerations and enourage more people to create new documents using the new covenant and shire sporty declaration as starting points.

  6. I am mistaken or is the signature near the middle of the first sheet signed "Wally and the Beave'?

  7. @Cathy Smith:

    Many of us formerly did have respect for the author. Unfortunately, he chose to change that by his Statist, socialist rants. Ergo, appealing to respect for him is not likely to be beneficial to your case.

  8. You have a peculiar notion of "respect". Let's see what it consists of:

    1) appropriate the expression of an idea that you "like";

    2) post the original document on a forum that no one who didn't have to would have anything to do with, and claim that it constitutes "notice";

    3) proceed to make changes to the substance (while carefully preserving aspects that imply the approval and involvement of the author of the orignal document — a word-for-word reproduction of the first 46 words of the document, complete with punctuation — to anyone familiar with his previous work) without having to bother with the pesky author's opinions;

    4) avoid assigning any responsibility for the modification of the document ("they" did it);

    5) to anyone not familiar with the source, divorce the orignal author from control of the product (the calligrapher didn't know where the document originated [comment by Davi Barker on July 19, 2010 at… "I agree that he has reason to be annoyed. I am also annoyed, not having realized the extent to which the declarations were the same until this blew up.");

    6) refuse to acknowledge your acts when caught out;

    7) spew hystericaL invective against those who disapprove of what you've done.

    Does that about sum it up?

  9. Hi Cathy.

    Thank you very much for being willing to come here and discuss this.

    I have a question for you:

    6) refuse to acknowledge your acts when caught out;

    I am an avid Free Talk Live listener… and I believer I heard Ian Freeman state that he was wrong to not ensure that your husband got sufficient credit for his original document. Your husband, in my opinion, is a phenomenal thinker/writer.

    Ian also apologized (didn't he?) for how he reacted to this situation… isn't that worth something?

    As a fan, admirer, and someone who respects your husband… I politely wish to express my displeasure with his subtle threats of state violence. I'd be willing to wager that 99 out of 100 voluntaryist/anarchist minds would agree that the whole mentioning a lawyer is proverbially cocking the state gun.

    It seems that this heated debate is similar to the abortion debate amongst libertarians/voluntaryists.

    Is a fetus a human? Is intellectual property property?

    Either way, your husband is a gifted writer … and I am thankful to him for the wonderful work he created years back which inspired my friends.

  10. Cathy, your socialist, emotional rants aren't exactly going to convince anyone.

    You claimed that those who oppose IP are "irrational" and not being "scientific." I challenged you to provide a rational, scientific proof of your claims.

    All you've done, before and since, is to spew emotionalistic nonsense without a shred of rational thought. The "hysterical invective" has been entirely one-sided.

  11. Hello, Bradley,

    Thank you for your message. You are correct that this is a highly contentious issue among libertarians — one that is by no means resolved, all blustering by fellows of the Mises Institute to the contrary.

    Ian's apology was both insincere and condescending, and the decision not to approach the author of the document prior to its modification does not appear accidental — not only would he have been unlikely to agree, but the document, in case you haven't seen the original, actually has signatories. Without their consent it cannot be modified — that has happened only once, and by unanimous consent. Had the changes ultimately made to the document been proposed they would not have been accepted. I can state that unequivocally as a signatory to the original document — and as one, if not the only one, who would have refused to accept them.

    I'm sorry you were annoyed by the mention of an attorney. Neil could have as easily said "counselor" or "shooting buddy". Would those equally descriptive nouns have carried fewer negative connotations? Even in a libertarian society we will have — will have to have — customs and precedents around which to arbitrate differences, and people whose avocation is to assist us with such activities.

    I encourage you to look through the thread of conversation "L. Neil Smith has Important Shire Business" to see what the first reaction was to the simple statement that Neil Smith wished to talk to the "Shire Founders".

  12. "I’m sorry you were annoyed by the mention of an attorney. Neil could have as easily said “counselor” or “shooting buddy”. Would those equally descriptive nouns have carried fewer negative connotations? Even in a libertarian society we will have — will have to have — customs and precedents around which to arbitrate differences, and people whose avocation is to assist us with such activities."

    Don't be puerile. If he was discussing this with his "shooting buddy," there was no reason to mention it. I've discussed this with my wife, and my neighbor (among others). I didn't mention them in any messages I've posted.

    Telling someone that you're going to copy your lawyer on a message is an explicit threat of involving the State. It's no different from "I'm going to send a copy of this to the cops." And it doesn't matter if you have a buddy who is a cop. That statement is still a threat.

    Heck, if he can actually present an actual case (as opposed to emotionalistic rants), he's perfectly justified in making threats; there's no particular limitation on whom he can select to help champion his cause. But claiming that it wasn't a threat is disingenuous.

  13. IP is an inherently statist doctrine. If Smith didn't want people to replicate some words that he strung together, he should have locked the document in a file cabinet. You don't own ideas or thoughts. Get over it.

    What is he trying to accomplish anyway, does he think somebody is going to give him money? Is he pursuing this because he believes it will benefit the cause of freedom, or because he wants recognition and fame?

  14. Cathy, Bradley, and others,

    I think both sides have legitimate claims in this dispute.

    It's unfortunate that Mr Smith's initial response was to cc his attorney. That was definately a threat of force, since communicating with his attorney can only mean that he's considering action in the government court system … a very un-libertarian response, which started the dialogue off on the wrong foot. Hopefully he'll realize that the Shire Society founders not consulting him beforehand was a good-conscience oversight and that no slight was intended. Had he initially responded in a non-threatening manner, I'm sure the founders would've been more than happy to work with him and to give him the credit he deserves.

    I agree that L. Neil Smith has a legitimate grievance, since the Shire Society document was clearly based on his work, which took him time & effort to write, publish, and make available on his website. But I also agree with the Shire Society founders that Mr Smith doesn't "own" the ideas of liberty just because he put words on paper … furthermore, the founders did invest effort of their own to improve the document, and most importantly, to find a way to actually apply it. In my opinion, the Shire Society Declaration is a significant improvement over Mr Smith's Covenant in both tone and readability.

    I wish both sides would put aside the righteous indignation and blame, because this is really a win-win for all. The Shire Society wins because they get the benefit of Mr Smith's initial work in creating a Declaration of Independence-like document that catalyzes and legitimizes the formation of a Voluntary Society. And Mr Smith wins because he gets the satisfaction of seeing his ideas, previously buried on his website & largely unknown, achieve much greater publicity & actually get put into action … as well as additional traffic to his website, which should occur if the Shire Society credits him more prominently & includes a link to his site (which I think they ought to do).

    Look, everybody here wants to see a Voluntary Society … so please stop the bickering already and find a way to work together!

  15. Wow – interesting comments.

    Lance: I never like to assume that because something is out on a particular website it is usable for whatever I like. Unless is it clearly marked as being in the public domain.

    Cathy: Thank you for the information, I would rather ask original author's permission to create a nice document that can be used across the United States.

    Brill: "Look, everybody here wants to see a Voluntary Society … so please stop the bickering already and find a way to work together!"

    Exactly. It's not easy to get people working together when they are interested in bickering with each other. 😉


  16. I agree with Brill. 🙂

  17. Michelle, I understand. Please do let us know what kind of response you receive from Mr. Smith. Good luck!

  18. Cathy,

    Thanks for responding to me.

    I personally am of the opinion regarding IP as the majority of readers/contributors here at Free Keene. Trying to convince you of our opinion, again, seems similar to trying to convince a libertarian vehemently against abortion that a fetus is not a human being.

    I suppose we can agree to disagree 🙂

    That said… I again thank your husband for the magnificent work which inspired my friends. Your husband deserves great credit for coming up with such a wonderful idea… which my friends expanded into something which I thoroughly appreciate. Ideas lead to ideas which lead to ideas.

    I hope a middle-ground of understanding can be reached.



  19. After reading this and the toerh responses from Neil and Cathy, I feel even less inclined to give them credit or to have asked their permission. At most I hope the credit is a minor mention in the history of the Shire Society.


    Did all the members of the New Covenant agree that the Shire Society Deceleration was in fact a derivative of the New Covenant?

    The New Covenant Proclaims:

    the document " this Agreement shall supercede all existing governmental Documents or Usages then pertinent, that such Constitutions, Charters, Acts, Laws, Statutes, Regulations, or Ordinances contradictory or destructive to the Ends which it expresses shall be null and void, and that this Covenant, being the Property of its Author and Signatories, shall not be Subject to Interpretation excepting insofar as it shall please them.

    Please tell us the success your members have had eliminating all existing governmental authority.

    Or is this just some silly document designed to get people to send you 2 bucks cash in the mail?

  20. @Cathy, I'll thank you not to quote me out of context to support your position. My full comment was:

    "I agree that he has reason to be annoyed. I am also annoyed, not having realized the extent to which the declarations were the same until this blew up. I said as much in my first email. But that's not the issue anymore. The issue is, why is he completely unwilling to negotiate a peaceful resolution?

    I acknowledged the slight. I asking him to explain how I injured him. I asked what would make him feel whole. I offered to resolve the dispute peacefully and the insults continue."

    I was sympathetic to Mr Smith in the beginning, but he met my every attempt at resolution with personal insult, which he has never retracted. Instead he continues to treat the entire Shire Society with collective guilt, even though many were not involved in the offense, and many have individually attempted to remain civil.

  21. I love the document, however I would change one thing. Anywhere the word "consent" is used, I would state "explicit consent." Our current oppressors have usurped power in many instances by their claim of implied consent. We have to always consider how an attorney will twist words into knots.

  22. I agree Mit. Actually, it was in the almost-final version. See here:

    Declaration of Independence & Shire Society Constitution

    WE, THE UNDERSIGNED witnesses to the lesson of history — that no form of political governance may be relied upon to secure the individual rights of life, liberty, or property — now therefore establish and provide certain fundamental precepts measuring our conduct toward one another, and toward others:

    FIRST, each individual is the exclusive proprietor of his or her own existence and of all products of that existence, holding no obligations except those to which he or she has given voluntary and explicit consent;

    SECOND, no individual or association of individuals, however constituted, has the right to initiate force against any other individual;

    THIRD, each individual has the inalienable right of self-defense against the initiation of force;

    FOURTH, voluntary association is the only means by which binding obligations may be created between two or more individuals, and claims based on associations or relationships to which both parties did not specifically and explicitly consent are empty and invalid;

    FIFTH, rights are neither collective nor additive in character and no group can possess rights in excess of those belonging to its individual members;

    We hereby declare our individual sovereignty and independence and join the peaceful Shire Society,

    I think many of the final edits were good, to clean it up, but perhaps "explicit" should have been left in.

  23. What sets the Shire Club apart is that they dipped theirs into strong green tea to give that old world antique aesthetic. Nice touch, but for a truly authentic ersatz look, use formaldehyde like they used to do with the Declaration of Independence souvenirs available at Independence Hall, Philadelphia. Too bad, but I believe the EPA bans the chemical it now.

    What a waste of time, but it is an amusing episode with respect to the inability, of some liberty minded, to organize and agree on the most rudimentary of unenforceable contracts. Imagine if you clowns had to draft a real meaningful contractual agreement.

    Keene State fraternity/sorority pledges have more substance. And for two dollars, I'd hope to also receive a secret decoder ring.

  24. I think you expect too much.maybe when I was a kid,two bucks would include both document and decoder ring,but in todays world,the ring itself would be two bucks.The last one I got gave the secret message 'Drink Ovaltine!' I like the antiqueing idea,maybe you could find formaldahyde at a funeral home.Worth a try. —bil

  25. It is quite weird that L.Neil isn't man enough to defend his point of view here or on FTL himself, but keeps sending his wife instead.
    Don't you think??

  26. No one "sends" me anywhere, twerp.

    Neil is busying writing so that you'll have something else to steal.

  27. Neil is busying writing so that you'll have something else to steal.


    Is this about money? Would Neil have been paid avoided this?

  28. Cathy,

    Copying and stealing aren't the same thing.

    If he doesn't want people to copy his work, he shouldn't rely on the state to protect his flawed business model. He needs to find better ways to be protected from being copying.

    Pro tip: If you want to protect your work from being copied, don't put things on the public internet where anyone can click copy, then click paste, to make a copy.

  29. Bradley Jardis on Thu, 5th Aug 2010 10:06 am

    >> Is this about money? Would Neil have been paid avoided this?

    If any one of you had thought to speak to him before appropriating his work this whole thing could have been avoided.

    It is about respect. And attribution. And morals. And money. And most of the participants here appear to have only one of the four to work with — and that's probably a generous assumption.

    You may take Stephan Kinsella's mantras and shove them somewhere.

    Pro tip for thinkliberty: if you don't want to be called a thief, don't steal.

  30. Cathy, you still haven't demonstrated by any rational thought process that "stealing" is going on.

    Socialistic nonsense about how your husband owns the labor of others just because he wants/needs it ("from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs," eh?) doesn't pass muster.

    Until you can provide some rational basis for your claims, derived from self-ownership, I'm calling "commie BS" on both of you.

    And I'm not a Shire Society signatory, nor did I participate in the drafting of that document. Just a former fan, disgusted by the total and complete lack of intelligence, rationality, or integrity you two have shown throughout this.

  31. @Cathy

    >>If any one of you had thought to speak to him before appropriating his work this whole thing could have been avoided.

    How about we stop moving backwards. Plenty of people have already conceded this point and apologized. They were among the first emails exchanged.

    >>It is about respect.
    Disrespect is not a rights violation, and the respect shown to Mr. Smith has not be reciprocated.

    >>And attribution.
    Which appeared on the first forum post and was offered on the forthcoming website.

    >>And morals.
    If by this you mean property than clearly people have a rational disagreement, not a moral disagreement. I have zero concern whether or not a thief believes that theft is moral. My damages are the same. To say the issue is morals is as irrational as hate crime legislation. But whether or not IP exists is not relevant. We can resolve this in only two ways. We could make him whole voluntarily (which does not require believing in IP) or we could appear with Smith in arbitration and abide by the decision (which does not require believing in IP).

    Smith has prevented both solutions. By refusing to define the extent of the damage he imagines he prevents us from settling the matter out of arbitration, and by refusing to participate in any process of dispute resolution he prevents us from settling the matter in arbitration.

    >>And money.
    This appears to be the only real issue. Smith claims he is injured, and I take that seriously regardless of whether or not I agree. Smith cries that he has been stolen from, but continually refuses to describe the value of the property stolen.

    Supposedly Smith collects $2 per signature on the New Covenant (which I would not have signed for reasons I've already discussed). About 100 people signed the Shire Society Declaration. Would $200 settle the matter?

  32. Cathy,

    Copying isn't stealing. If I copy something, I am not a thief. I am a person that made a copy. You still have your copy, nothing was taken from you.

    If someone can provide a free copy of something that you are selling, you'll need to provide an additional incentive for people to buy what you are selling.

    If you market your product to libertarians don't use statism to promote or protect your products from being copied. No one will buy it. (your argument or your product.)

    I am also a former fan, disgusted by the total and complete lack of intelligence, rationality, or integrity you two have shown throughout this.

  33. If you can't resolve the intellectual property debate over authorship and ownership of the Declaration, consider basing it instead on the famous animation "Introduction to the Philosophy of Liberty":
    The words are similar, because the principles are universal. I believe that I can speak for that author and say that he would love to see this philosophy spread as widely as possible. Ken has already cooperated with the FSP (note the porcupine in the recent versions of the animation). He might even assist in promoting the Shire Society.

    I assume that this Declaration is intended for the long term. Better to put it on a firm foundation, and put this wasteful, destructive debate behind you.

  34. I see you have your own little Declaration of Independence. How nice. Now why don't all of you go buy your own town someplace up north and let those of us that are already free live in peace.

  35. Perhaps you missed it. The Shire is not geographically bound. It's a state of mind that will bring us closer to a voluntary society.

    Besides, the other places voted. They want us here.

  36. wow, i wasted my time (which i readily admit was by my free choice) by reading this. wow.

Care to comment?