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well-ascertained opinion of the day.
of a constitutional government should be | be inevitably referred for a decision to the armed with a power of resistence sufficient for its own preservation; nor do those powers which have been granted by the Constitution to each member of the government, exceed what is necessary to their independent existence. There could hardly, nevertheless, be observed a more fatal symptom, either in the conduct of a government or of a party, than a disposition manifested by them to allow the encroachment of executive upon judicial or legislative power. As it would be impossible to over-estimate the dangers which might follow upon an absorption of the power of the government by the legislative body, aiming at its own aggrandize
ment and the diminution of executive and judicial responsibility, so it would be equally impossible to overrate the perils, not only to State liberties, but even to individual rights, from the repeated election of a president, chosen, not for the administration of the laws, but for enforcing new and partial constructions of those laws. When, therefore, we are called upon to examine the merits of new measures, either of public economy or of national enterprise, we must withdraw ourselves from the atmosphere of interest; we must endeavor to place ourselves in sympathy with the genius and spirit of the nation. If the Constitution is silent or obscure upon a point of authority or competency, and we are pressed for a decision, there remains no other course but to go back to our origin, and from that to trace the rise of our polity; to observe what courses have led to aggrandizement, to peace, and prosperity, regarding always the fundamental laws as barriers and limits within which we are free to act, in all cases, as it may seem best for the nation. The Constitution does not provide for nor establish a system of political economy; it neither sustains nor forbids a tariff or a free trade, a bank or a sub-treasury, the annexation of a State, or the extension of public aid to national enterprises. It does not forbid the establishment of slavery in new territories, nor does it command such an establishment. All questions of this nature creating parties, whose majorities change from year to year, and whose opinions vary, as passion and enthusiasm and interest compel, must
For the formation of our own opinions, we must go back to first principles, as we may suppose them to have lain in the minds of our founders; and deduce, as they deduced, opinions of the propriety or impropriety of what is proposed. Let this be done by each succeeding generation, and there will arise in time, out of the united arguments and experience of many succeeding generations, a system of polity filling out the original design of our founders, extending the power of the Constitution where it is inoperative, interpreting its silence, and, in fine, executing its intention in its own peculiar spirit.
Had the fathers inserted in that instrument any clause that might confer upon the general government the power of engaging in works of prospective improvement, it would have exceeded its intention, and have incurred the danger of violation by encroaching upon the changeable sphere of opinion.
If a class of powers had been given by it, under the general head of progress and improvement, authorizing Congress to appropriate funds for scientific expeditions, for the planting of colonies, for the construction of telegraphs, for the establishment of colleges and schools of science, for architectural outlay, for national roads, for the protection of commerce; if a clause had been inserted in the Constitution providing for works intended to increase the value of public lands, by railroads opening the western territories, by the construction of harbors for the augmentation of trade, by naval expeditions to extend our commerce in the southern and eastern seas; had these powers been directly conferred, together with an injunction upon congress to protect our agriculture and our manufactures by tariffs, to collect the dues of government in silver and gold, and to establish some particular form of bank or treasury, it would not have the force, encumbered with such details, that it now has, as a body of fundamental law, fixing the framework merely, and unchangeable powers of the government; leaving to the majority of the nation to determine for itself, from time to time, what works it will engage in, and what economy it will use.
We conceive that the great error of our politics has thus far lain in a continual reference to the Constitution for decisions in cases of mere expediency and policy, not contemplated by that instrument. Fundamental laws cannot be established, or rather, will not stand, if they are made to specify what shall, or shall not be done, in the detail of national economy. They do not point out the aims, they do not designate the purposes, the objects, but show only the right and wrong, the rules, and fixed forms of public conduct. I am not assisted by the moral law in resolving whether to engage in commerce or in manufacture; nor can the laws of the land determine whether the people shall become farmers or artisans. That is a barbarous and unrefined minuteness in a State constitution, which regulates the method of its treasury, the extent of its territory, or the shape or extent of its taxation. It is, perhaps, the most striking instance of human wisdom upon record, that our founders carefully abstained from even naming what is transient in government, and that they introduced into that instrument such things only as must always be observed while the nation continues to be a republic.
In another view, and for other reasons, we are to rejoice that we have a Constitution so liberal and so reserved. Had any particular line of policy been recommended as beneficial by the fathers, and the recommendation clothed in the solemn and authoritative language of law, it would have given an unnatural force in that direction; it would have given one party too great an advantage over its opposite. Had it been a recommendation to engage in enterprises of improvement, our strong overruling tendency toward new and splendid achievements would have swept us like a torrent to our ruin. With the Constitution clearly for us, that tendency would have been irresistible. We have seen how far we may be led toward ruin by a misstep in negotiation; and, from this single instance, we may judge into what excesses we may yet be plunged by a legislature acting under arbitrary constructions of the Constitution; and if forced construction, even, have this power, what might we not have to fear from a general precept, advising to
extend aid to every species of enterprise that seemed likely to increase the wealth of the nation. We should, therefore, be the last to advise any alteration amendment of the fundamental law; we would not, with President Monroe, recommend that a general sanction of the policy of internal improvements be incorporated in the Constitution, since that would be to make law the slave, instead of the guide and master of opinion; and would be a step toward alteration and decline. It must be reckoned among the dangers to which the State is always liable, engaging too far, or in too great a number of enterprises. We prefer to draw all arguments for expenditure from its evident necessity and propriety, and not from any amendments which ourselves have procured to the Constitution.
We do not wish to tamper with that venerable instrument. It would be a precedent full of danger and ill omen.
If there be a point of policy upon which Considerate men of all parties will agree, it is on this of the inviolability of the Constitution.
Ours is not yet a prescriptive Constitution, "whose sole authority is, that it has existed time out of mind." At a moment of our history when the equal necessity of an union of all the citizens, and the preservation of State liberties became intensely apparent, it sprang into life (almost perfect in its form) from the brain of wisdom-a wisdom which, taking into view all the circumstances of the time, and being itself personally, a part of those circumstances, took the middle results of all-a method which left everything incomplete in the detail, and gave only the forms and generalities; not pretending to recommend particular policies, but providing against the influence of any one bias, interest or policy, whose excess might weaken the system of the whole. This form, impressed upon the government, and upon the nation at its birth, when a vigorous life presided in it, cannot, without great danger, be altered or disturbed, as its provisions were the results of a deliberation, not upon any transient circumstances and necessities, but upon those which are fixed and lasting; it can be altered and amended only by a wisdom, equal to that which constructed
it, in a position of equal dignity, and with an equal moderation, calmness, and unanimity. But in discussing the system of our national economy, on the other hand, we have to consider the exigency of the time only-the wants, desires and aspirations of the age-the particular benefit or injury balanced against the general interest. All this we have to consider in the light of that system of polity which has been established by the experience of our predecessors.
It was not possible, in the nature of things, for the fathers to have specified all and every power of the general government, to the exclusion of all others not named by them, but nevertheless necessary to the existence and prosperity of the nation. It might become proper, in a moment of extreme necessity, for the people, acting through their representatives, to invest the President with a dictatorial power. It might become necessary for the same body, as the immediate agents and defenders of private liberty, to assume for themselves a certain executive authority. It might become necessary for the general government to suffer for a while unlawful encroachments upon its own authority. It might be deemed expedient to allow that clause of the Constitution which "guaranties a republican government" to every State of this Union, or, in other words, to every citizen of this nation; to rest unapplied, where it seemed proper for the peace of all concerned, that certain men, or bodies of men, should exclude themselves from the privileges of freemen. Many cases will arise where a paramount necessity will supercede that inferior necessity which gives its ordinary form and power to the government; nor could the fathers have foreseen and provided for that vast increase of territory which has raised the Union to the rank of an imperial power, and has given us a dominion, and may yet farther extend that dominion over nations incapable of free institutions.
Still less could they have foreseen by what courses, in particular ages, the wealth of the nation might be increased.
When, therefore, we have examined the powers of the general government, and have not been able to discover among them any clauses authorizing the appro
priation of public moneys to the improvement of national harbors, to the removal of snags from rivers, to the construction of telegraphs or national railroads, we are not, therefore, to conclude, that these measures are unconstitutional, nor are we to ask, with President Monroe, for an amendment to the Constitution authorizing such appropriations. We are to inquire only whether the government was established with full powers to do all that is required for the common good of all, and for the common weal; and next, are we to satisfy ourselves that the measures proposed are enterprises of national benefit, and of a magnitude exceeding the power of any individual, or of a State, to accomplish.
Nor will it be a sufficient objection to any such measure, that its benefits will not be immediately felt, in an equal degree, over all parts of the Union. A railroad connecting New Mexico with the Southern States might indeed, be esteemed an enterprise of much greater benefit to the southern than to the northern members of the Union.
A series of harbors along the northern frontier might increase the trade of the North and West, while it conferred only a partial and remote advantage upon the South. Appropriations for improvements must be equitably distributed with a proper regard to the commerce, the agriculture, and the defense of every part of the Union. The farmer cannot, at once, and by one vast outlay, bring every acre of his farm to that high perfection which it will attain in time, after many years of a divided and distributed care. can he, by a thin and feeble manuring of the whole, through successive seasons, produce that desired fertility which he may communicate by confining his outlay and his labor for a time to separate portions.
The house represents the people; in number, and in aggregate as individuals, and as a nation. Certain persons are permitted by law, under certain restrictions, to select the members of the House. These persons so permitted, and under such restrictions, (i. e. voters,) represent the interests of families, individuals, busi
nesses, partnerships, i. e. the aggregate | a State representative; but a senator of the interests of the entire nation, taken by villages, towns, and cities, being thus represented in the House.
The Senate, on the other hand, seems to represent organized and established forms of power, and not merely bodies of contending interests. In the House of Lords we see represented the church, the judiciary establishment, and the great families; promotions to lordships being chiefly for the maintenance of the ancient orders. The legal lords, the clerical lords, and the social lords make up the body of that House. They represent the great powers, established in perpetuity by tradition and usage over the heads of the people. Formerly, we find the separate governments, the dukedoms, earldoms, marches, and counties represented there. In the Senate, as in the House of Lords, powers established in perpetuity, namely, State sovereignties, are represented; and we see, too, that the Senate is the conservative body, and preserves the ancient liberties of States, as the House of Lords does the ancient feudalities, from popular and executive desecration. The State sovereignties stand in our government in place of lords of families, lords of church, and law lords.
An election of Senators by popular choice would break down the whole system, and for a government of State sovereignties give us a mere tug of parties. The Senate would connive with the House; senators and representatives elected on the same ticket, and answerable to the same constituents, would act as one body, and the Senate itself prove only a useless incumbrance.
The ground of aristocracy is privilege, the greatest privilege is the power of legislating for one's self and for one's family; there is, therefore, not the least tincture of aristocracy in the Senate of the Union; for there is no privilege. The Senate of the Union, though superior in dignity, yet recedes as far as possible from aristocracy in being the defender of State liberties against both representative and executive encroachments. It is the duty of the senator to consider the interests of the government which he represents. The senator of a State legislature is elevated only in his grade and respectability, above
Union represents not so much a people, as a system of government, an organization; his function is strictly conservative; he is bound to defend at every point the sovereignty which he represents. The interests of the State from which he comes are to be defended by him against the encroaching interests of other States. To the Senate, perhaps, we owe the existence of the State sovereignties, perhaps the existence of the Union. In every State there is a governing body, a class of able and efficient men, who draw to themselves by merit, by property, by ability, and the arts of popularity, all the offices of government. These men, from motives either of interest, of ambition or of patriotism, make state affairs their proper care. They are the guides, the advisers, and defenders for the time of the people, while the people respect them. They ascertain the desires of the people, ascertain or imagine for them, their wants and wrongs, and originate for them all laws and measures of redress. They originated popular constitutions, and they advise or flatter, or persuade the people, that they are good and suitable. These constitutions establish certain offices and functions to be filled by men who make politics and offices their business. These constitutions appoint also certain citizens to a certain inferior function (from which such persons only are excluded by law, as are deemed unfit,) namely, the function of voting or electing certain persons to fill the higher offices, or in other words, to exercise more responsible functions, than those of a voter or elector. The system of the higher offices of a State, being a body of functionaries appointed for the welfare of a particular portion or division of the whole people, and having the entire control over the internal and domestic economy of that portion or State, constitutes a perpetual corporation, with a peculiar interest, a peculiar prejudice, and a peculiar pride. This power, or system of powers in each State, represents interests often adverse, and even hostile to those of other States; it is, therefore, absolutely necessary, that in the general system of the government these State interests and rights should receive a full and powerful representation, lest in course of time they should
The first and most remarkable occupation is that of instructors and schoolmasters, of every rank and degree, from the good dame who teaches children the A, B, C, to the great savan who developes the mysteries of life, and the harmony of the heavenly spheres. The importance of this order of persons to the State need not be dwelt upon. They are not the least influential body in the present condition of society. They include also, philosophers and metaphysicians.
be neglected and forgotten; and, exaspe- | Old World, by as many political castes or rated by contempt, should draw off the orders. Although the division of a peomasses from their allegiance to the govern- ple by castes, is no longer tolerated, and ment of the whole. It need not, therefore an individual my occupy successively and excite our surprise, if we hear senators without disgrace, all stations in society, defending with vehemence the institutions still the occupations themselves remain as of the States of whose politics and cus- they were founded by nature. They have toms they are the representatives. While each their peculiar genius and necessities, these polities and customs exist in a and it rarely, if ever happens, that the State, the senator is bound by every same person excels, or is successful in all. law of honor and of duty to defend them against aggression. And, however much he may lament their existence, he must not allow them to be interfered with, by strangers, or even vilified without defense. Nor is the senator less bound by virtue of his office to prevent inequitable appropriations of the public means. Should it appear to him, that an unjust preference had been given to the citizens, or to the government of one State over another, or to one section of country over another, it is his peculiar duty to prevent such unjust appropriations, in as much as he represents a body to whose care the dignity and property of his State had been entrusted. But, while the senator must be continually on the watch for the interests and the dignity of his State, there is no reason why he should apply to every measure which he thinks unjust, the test of unconstitutionality. Many measures may be be unjust, and yet constitutional. It may be unjust to forbid the introduction of slavery into a new territory, and it may be at the same time constitutional. The improvement of the Mississippi river may be a great hardship to the Eastern States, but the Eastern States will never oppose such improvements, on the ground that they are unconstitutional. Southern senators may oppose the appropriation of money for the protection of maritime commerce, by ships of war, and naval expeditions; they may even oppose the opening of national harbors for a commerce and revenue upon the Northern lakes, but they are not obliged to account for this opposition by a constructive unconstitutionality set up against these measures.
Political Economy. The occupations of a civilized people, divide very naturally into several kinds, represented in the primeval States of the
The next who attract our attention are those who cultivate and appeal to the imagination and the feelings, including all that are employed in the offices of worship and religious instruction. These include also, professed poets, and inventors of fiction, and all whose occupation is to affect the moral nature through the imaginative faculty. The highest enthusiasm of religion indulges in the poetical form, and the teachings of religion are oftener conveyed by figures, symbols, and parables, than by direct proof; so that it becomes necessary to place the occupation of priest, clergyman, and man of letters, under one head; and in the greatest examples they are united in one; the literature of some nations, that of the Hebrews for instance, is exclusively religious. Artists are also of this order; and in the political system of Egypt, we find the priests, artists, poets, and architects, included in one caste, called the Sacred Order.
Next in order we notice the artisans, mechanics, and men of business, (who are also the most numerous, in the present system of society,) including all who practice any art or handicraft for the physical comforts of man. This order includes manufacturers, seamen, agriculturists, gardeners, inventors, bankers, tradesmen, merchants, negotiators, agents, and those who are devoted wholly to the care or ownership of any species of property, or to con