Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
REBELLION. By rebellion is understood the act of resistance by one or more individuals to lawful authority acting within the limits of its power. Insurgents are those who attack the government with the intent of overturning it, and rebels those who refuse to obey it. It is true that rebellion quickly becomes insurrection. The distinction between them, consequently, exists especially at the beginning, but exact definitions are necessary in political language. Rebellion is, at bottom or in principle, a refusal of obedience, which manifests itself either by violence and assault, or by passive resistance.
—There is no rebellion unless the public force, against which the rebels rise, be acting in the execution of the laws, or of legitimate orders of the authorities or the courts. This is the essential element of rebellion. When peace officers act outside of their right, or exceed their power, resistance is not rebellion. This principle was written in the Roman law (see
—These are the least serious cases of rebellion. They are what may be said to constitute petty rebellion. Rebellion, in its greatest development, goes much farther than contesting the acts of a police officer; it calls in question the very government whose orders he executes; it raises against the government the same objections, of incompetency, or of exceeding its powers, which we have just supposed in the case of public officers. The same principle, as to the lawfulness of the resistance, must be applied here.
—Rebellion, we have said, may show itself without violence, and be entirely passive. Thus, breaches of certain legal obligations are, in our opinion, acts of rebellion. If the commander of an armed force refuse to cause it to act, though he be lawfully required to do so by the civil authority, he deserves, according to our idea, the title of rebel, quite as much as the wretch who meets a sheriff with a blow from his fist.
F. A. HÉLIE.
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