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WE now see what the government was at first, when the few and evil days of "the confederacy" were at length succeeded by a real union between the thirteen primary States.

And first, it was a true government, as well in the general as the particular economies, and no longer a confederacy of States in the former, more than of counties in the latter. Above and below, at Washington and throughout the territorial departments, it made laws for the people as individuals, and gave effect to its laws, not by negotiation or entreaty, much less by military force, but by court process.

Secondly, it was a pure agency govern ment, a republic; with a guaranty in the federal charter that it should continue such. A part of the sovereignty was delegated for purposes of direct administration, and the residue lodged with a very large, but not promiscuous body of the citizens, at once to maintain the personal organization of the system, and to keep watch and ward by night and by day over the uses made of its powers in the management of its affairs; the two sovereignties, (if I may call them so,) being both alike functionary under the Constitution, though in provinces of duty quite distinct from each other, and separated by a wall of partition never to be passed, the one way or the other, for any purpose of reciprocal interference.

In the third place, it was a government homogeneously framed in the relative constitutions of the head and the members; its agents everywhere acting for and representing the people, and nowhere, corporations of the people. Nor was there any known disparity of endowment among the several agency groups of the system in the matter of power, save what arose necessarily, or at least naturally, out of its scheme of divided jurisdictions. The power of the State governments was ample for

what concerned their local line of business. The common law stood sponsor for this. The government of the Union, designed as it was for a sphere of action limited to the foreign or international relations of the country, and the inter-state relations (so to call them) of its interior subdivisions, had no authority but by special grants looking mainly to that sphere. Still, within the prescribed limits, federal functionaries had the same common law to adjust the measure of their powers, that State officers had in their departments for the like important service. Nor was there to be a particle of difference in the rule of construction applicable to the two cases.

Finally, it was a government distributed, balanced, checked, guarded, and accommodated to the actual state of society, in a very remarkable manner. On the one hand, its founders were afraid of public power. They knew the views of that kind of power.

They knew it had been the great oppressor of mankind in all ages, and they had nothing more at heart than to secure themselves and their posterity from its grasping, overreaching, perverting tendencies. On the other hand, they meant it to be decently accommodated to social facts. social facts. Exact equality of treatment might be unattainable as regarded the various classes, callings, and conditions of men; but an effort of approach towards it was both just and prudent; it was practising, in the construction of the system, the very principle that was to form the characteristic merit of its subsequent operation.

As to power, the first thing done was that of cutting it up into jurisdictional parts.

The making, interpreting, and executive oversight of the law, were assigned to different agencies, with strong lines of demarcation between them. This was the funotionary division.


A territorial division was added, by | estates, the usual fruit of industry, good which the details of government business habits, and good principles, and should were scattered over the country among have maintained, or have been ready to thousands of political corporations. The profess, the character of Christians, the lowest grade of these, were townships and choice would be as likely to result well, villages. Over the townships there were as in human circumspection it could be counties, for concerns of corresponding ex- made to do. These, at any rate, were fair tent. Over the counties, there were States; grounds of popular judgment, and they and over the States, a Union. The town- were made indispensable conditions in the ships had some powers each that were ultimate, and consequently sovereign. So had the counties. But for the most part, appeals lay upward from township to county, and from county to State. The powers of the States were nearly all sovereign. Like those of the smaller districts, however, they looked only to internal and domestic matters; having no bearing that was properly national, nationality belonged to the Union alone.

This scheme of jurisdictions adjusted, the policy of the lawgivers descended next to the minuter features of the system.

And they began, here, with limiting rigidly the order or description of persons from among whom the more considerable agents of the government were to be selected. The door of office might, they apprehended, be opened too wide for the general safety. It was necessary, therefore, to be cautious. Precise rules of eligibility must be fixed upon, to guard against mistakes. "Is he honest, is he capable," was the great practical inquiry for the electors in all cases; but to bring them to just or prudent conclusions on the subject, marks of probable honesty, probable capability were wanted, that might afford invariably some reasonable chance of safe judgment. To which end, mature age, a term of residence, some property, and a religious profession, perhaps the most reliable circumstances that could be hit upon as practical indications in the matter, were made conditions of access to public life in its more eminent stations. Outward, sensible tokens were necessary, and these answered that description. Clear certainty was out of reach; probability was all that could be hoped for; and it was thought that if the people were required to choose for the public service persons of from twenty-one to thirty-five years of age, who should have lived from one to ten years under their eyes without reproach, should have acquired considerable

Nor did paternal solicitude stop here. So vital were the interests involved, that other precautions were resorted to. If all the people were to be constituted electors, nothing could well save the majority from mischances in the use of their power. It was therefore deemed expedient to put conditions on the right of suffrage itself, and so to restrain the possession of it to the stauncher portion of society; making not only years of manhood, and a short local commorancy, but even a pittance of property (in general a freehold) necessary qualifications for the function of the polls. By which arrangement the number of allowed electors, compared with the entire popular mass of both sexes, must have been limited to a sixth or seventh, more probably a tenth, of the whole. A striking fact in several bearings. How it illustrates the doctrine of representation, as depending on duty, not constituency. Were the men of straw unrepresented in those days? Are women and children unrepresented now? How it exhibits the franchise of elections as a thing of trust for the good of all, apart entirely from the claims or pretensions of special interest in those honored with the use of it! Away with the preposterous folly of scrambling or contending as individuals for a right which at the best is but fiduciary, and no object of selfish demand to any one! How it shows off the slow and thoughtful and painstaking husbandry of the patriarchal statesmen, as contrasted with our modern steamploughing! There are things which it is more important to do well than quickly.

Thus then, to reach the great objects of a safe personal organization of the Government, the population of the country was to be doubly sifted: first, for a class of persons fit to stand before the people as candidates for election; and next, for a community of voters, who might be expected to act independently, conscien

tiously, wisely, in putting forward the best of those candidates to serve the commonwealth.

No doubt the fathers (the greater part of them) thought it desirable to keep their men somewhat longer in office than a single year. And such exceeding care in choosing them might render this admissible. The fathers meant to have a decent tone of government a decent consistency and vigor of administrative policy. In order to which if public sentiment required that some officers (the larger houses of legislation for example) should die out annually, others (such as chief magistrates and senators) must have a longer lease of life-a lease that might bring them acquainted with two or three generations of their more transient brethren, so that some sort of connection might be kept up between the past and present, and the notable principle of rotation in office might not have a speed and of action that should put everysweep thing in a whirl. Change, doubt it who will, is the besetting curse of free institutions. This desperate evil was to be put, if possible, under some restraint. The tossing floods were to have shores to beat upon. Accordingly, while members of assembly in the State legislatures were allowed to hold an incessant correspondence with the popular mind by annual elections, governors and senators, for the most part, had terms of from two to five or six years assigned them. Federal agents were similarly dealt with; the President holding for four years, and the upper house of Congress for six, while members of the representative chamber were restricted to two. In which respect, as in most others, the whole system of the country was symmetrical, and the policy of its arrangements uniform.

Can a question be raised as to the advantage of all this? Who will confess a doubt, for instance, whether the executive administration of a State is likely to be better managed, or, at least, with more consistency and dignity, for a dozen years together, by three successive chief magistrates than by twelve, even admitting the men to be all of a stamp? And then is this admission likely to be true in matters of fact? Is it likely that an official term of one year will attract the same rate of

talents and qualities into public life as a term of three or four? The term of office is one of its dimensions. Curtail the term unduly, and you belittle the office. Incumbents may be found undoubtedlythere are placemen of all calibres; but to think of getting petty offices filled by men fit for the greatest is idle, unless indeed you are prepared to buy their condescension with enormous salaries.

It is pleasant to trace the old harmonies of the republic as between the head and the members. There are breaks in some of those harmonies now, but the recollection of what they once were is music to a patriotic ear.

Take, as a further specimen, the great principles of a completely independent judiciary, once common to the federal and State economies, and sustained alike in each by what is called the good-behavior tenure. It was a glorious sight to look at, when the dispensers of human justice went forth erect in their full stature, unswayed by government, unindebted to political parties, judging the cause of the fatherless and widow, as well as of principalities and powers, without respect of persons, and only liable to be judged themselves, as God judges men, by their deeds.

The Union and the States had also, in fair proportion with each other, the patronage of many appointments, and were aggrandized by it exceedingly in the public eye. Not only the States and the Union as bodies politic, but the people at large were the better for this. Appointments were better made for many purposes by government officers than it was possible they should be in the way of popular elections.

Indeed the agreement between the larger and smaller economies was general. Both were concise in the written expressions of their plans and principles. Both, with a few local exceptions, rejected bills of rights as useless, perhaps hurtful substitutes, of form for spirituality! Both preferred to rest upon the people's common law-the unwritten code of usage and common sense-as the true basis of men's rights, the rock of their liberties. To both, religion was a first element of life. It was deemed a main support of all civil and political obligations; a guar

anty of public virtue-a thing of un-tenure. The evil, if such it were, would speakable importance everywhere. Not fall directly on the local government, while the religion of frenzy nor of sect, but the Union might continue to hold up its religion in its general substance the head in undiminished honor, character, religion of the gospel. The fathers and influence; and the comparative result wished to tie the hearts of the people would be, a loss to one of the members of to their institutions, and they imbued the political body, and a corresponding gain these with the religion which the peo- to the head. ple then loved. Religious babels were not wanted. Religious feudal systems, with alien lords paramount, did not suit a polity which claimed the citizen's whole allegiance for his own government. This government was not made strong enough to do without the people's affections, much less to abide the distracting competition of foreign claims upon them. Foreign allegiance, therefore, of whatever type, was expected to be abjured, and the rules of our own national piety and patriotism undividedly embraced.

Or, suppose a State to put itself under a sort of process of depletion, by reducing its terms of office from three years to one in the case of its chief magistrate, and from four to two in that of its senators. Does any man question that the effect must be, upon the whole, to let down the tone of the particular government, and take somewhat from its relative weight of character? Does any man fail to see, that this must needs redound to a proportional exaltation of the central government?

Or, finally, suppose a State government to have its mantle of patronage stripped off, and all appointments made over to the disposal of the popular electors. What follows? Does not the shame of that government's nakedness appear? Tell me not that the people are represented by their officers, and that the majesty of the people never varies. The people are out of sight and unthought of. The immediate organs of power fill the eye for the time. Degrade these, and you degrade the State in their persons, the peo

In one respect undoubtedly the close and sympathetic relations of the Union government with that of the particular States brought the former into a kind of independence that might subject it to possible mischief, though a mischief in which the States must also participate. I allude to the provision of the federal Constitution, by which the State electorships for members of assembly were adopted as organs of choice for representatives in Congress. In which respect the character of one branch of the national legisla-ple's majesty notwithstanding. We must ture was left in some measure at the future mercy of the States; so that a change made at Albany or Harrisburg in the vesting of the electoral franchise must affect the whole country. A matter of grave consequence certainly. It were well if our thirty faculties of constitutional dissectors would bethink themselves that the nerves they handle with such surgeonlike freedom extend to Washington.

On the other hand, there are points in which it was left possible for a State to alter its economy, and take all the fruits to itself. By which means the equilibrium of the system might be sadly interfered with, and its working impaired.

Suppose, for instance, that a State should so change its Constitution as to degrade one of the jurisdictional branches of its government, and sympathetically the others too, by depriving the judges of that jewel of modern policy, the independent

take things practically, by the world's measure. Rank and influence result from actual circumstances, not from philosophical musings of what ought to be. A government without patronage may be a noble ship; but it is a ship under bare poles, that makes not half the impression on us in that plight of destitution as when all her glorious canvass swells in the breeze.

One thing, however, may be stated with confidence; the fathers left the State in high relative condition; free, indeed, to fall by their own acts, but not exposed to any known power of injurious depression at the hands of the federal government. How could that government hurt them if it would? and what temptation was it under, to desire to hurt them? The greater they were, the more honorable its precedency over them in national affairs. The general fear of considerate men was, that the States would prove too great for

the stability of the Union. Washington | chase. No other means could be conentertained this fear, and so did Hamilton, ceived of as within the granted powers of and many others. Indeed, supposing the the government. States true to themselves, I do not see how it was possible for the central government to work its way to a disproportionate and dangerous pre-eminence, save by one or both of two expedients; that is to say, by the adoption of a war policy, or a policy of territorial acquisition; neither of which, in my humble judgment, was compatible with the fundamental laws. Let us think of it a moment.

As to war, the most aggrandizing and fearful of all the expedients of ambition when successful, and which, if it could be entered upon at pleasure by the federal government, might truly make that government everything, and the States nothing, the original policy of our institutions was clear and unequivocal against it. We were, for example, to have no considerable standing army. The early records are full of this axiom. We were to depend in ordinary, for our military operations, on the citizen militia; another primitive axiom, or rather, another form of the same. And then the specified conditions on which alone, according to the federal charter itself, the militia might be called into service, shut out altogether the notion of an aggressive foreign war. Citizens cannot be sent abroad against their will, though it were to fight the country's battles. More than all, a war of aggression is one which, as a Christian people (constitutionally such in profession) we may not, cannot urge.

But how as to the national domain? Was that to be enlarged indefinitely? If it was, adieu to all safe proportion between the head and members of the Republic. I affirm, however, that by the unadulterated rule of the fathers the thing was impossible. They certainly would not have been apprehensive of the growing consequence of the State governments, as likely to disturb the general balance of the system, if they had supposed the government of the Union capable of widening its foundations at pleasure, and thus availing itself of resources of wealth, influence and domination, to which no bounds could be set. Let us see. If foreign territories were to be acquired at all, it could only be by conquest, by legislation, or by treaty-pur

Could it be done by conquest? Citizen soldiers would hardly have been preferred to enlisted troops with such views. Nor were such views consistent with the religion, the morals, the laws, of the country in its first and purest age. The notion of an habitually grasping policy was as foreign to our institutions then, as that of highway robbery was to the economy of private life under them. Indeed, the very savages of our forests were safe from the injustice of such a policy. Instead of invading the Indian settlements for purposes of prey, the fathers carried nothing but the arts of civilization and the blessings of Christianity among them. Instead of taking away the lands of the poor red man, the fathers protected his title to them, and did all they could to make his occupancy safe, useful, agreeable, permanent. government had a right of eminent domain over many of the Indian territories, but this right was held in scrupulous deference to the right of the actual possessors to enjoy them as long as they pleased, and who were never, on any account, to be disturbed or disquieted-a pleasing evidence of the unambitious, self-denying character of our early policy, as to what so many modern politicians think it impossible to get enough of now. The days of aggression and of conquest had not yet dawned.


As to legislation, it is a milder expedient, but inapplicable to the purpose. Legislation is the exercise of an essentially internal power, and of course the fathers could not expect it to go abroad. Most true, there was an acknowledged form of that power for admitting new States into the Union. This, however, operated no enlargement of territorial jurisdiction in Congress; no change of the axiom that legislation cannot, in the nature of things, make its voice heard beyond the actual borders of the country. The jurisdiction of Congress was still rigidly confined to its domestic province. The common law, as well as common reason, settled this point; so that the power of admitting new States extended not an inch beyond the national domain as it then was. Existing materials might be worked up; new

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