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but is a combination or federation of republics. The “republican form of government,” as it is called, is guaranteed to all the constituent parts of the system, and to the system as a whole. Let us examine the larger Republic, which includes and rests upon the .rest. We may notice briefly the following points :
1. THE CONSTITUTION of the United States, the charter of this body politic—the Leviathan, as it may be termed. In that document the powers of the United States and its officers must be sought. It is, for its size, perhaps the most important political paper ever penned. It covers only a few printed pages, and numbers, with its amendments, only a few sections. The Constitution defines the province of this Federal Republic; it takes away from the small republics what it gives to the larger one. Certain subjects are defined in a broad and sweeping way as the domain of the Federal power. With these and no others it may deal; over these it is supreme; and the Constitution provides the appropriate machinery-legislative, judicial, and executive—for dealing with them.
Short as it is, it has in the course of a century acquired large accretions by judicial interpretation, so that a treatise would be required to expound some of its clauses.
By the theory of the Constitution the Union is a limited republic. The Constitution imposes limitations on the separate States also, as we shall see; but the implication is that the separate States contain the reserve of political power. Whatever is not expressly
taken from them by the Constitution of the United States they retain. They do not hold their existence by delegation from the larger Republic. Even when the Constitution authorises the Republic to make laws on special matters, the State may legislate in default of the Republic. If the Republic chooses to legislate, the State's powers are at an end; but until the Republic acts, the State powers are in full force and effect.
Out of this division of functions flows the source of party government in the United States. The Republican party magnifies the Leviathan's share; the Democratic party stands up for the reserved rights of the separate States. If party government be a blessing, the United States was fortunate in having in the circumstances of its birth material for the creation of an ideally suitable controversy, broad, indefinite, elastic, touching material interests at innumerable points, yet rising to the possibility of conceptions worthy of a great and free people.
It might be thought that, as the Republic derived its existence from the voluntary union of sovereign States, the controversy would inevitably be concluded in favour of the States-right theory, even to the extent of the right of secession, which was claimed by the Southern States twenty-five years ago. We know that the controversy was settled in precisely the contrary way; but it may be remarked here that the argument from the origin of the Union was weakened by the fact that in later times States were admitted on equal terms that
never had an independent sovereign existence apart from the Union. Louisiana, for example, was purchased by the United States from France. One of the subtlest controversies in the history of the Union was whether Louisiana had as good a right to secede as Virginia, which was one of the original States.*
The result, so far as ordinary laws are concerned, is a separate system in each State and Territory. The United States laws are, of course, uniform ; you carry them with you wherever you go, but in every State you enter you find yourself under the dominion of a new set of laws. It is the State law which governs the ordinary transactions of life—the common relations of man to man; and each State has its own way of dealing with them. “New States, new laws,” is one of the first lessons the Briton in America has to learn.
Finally, the Constitution may be amended, but not without much difficulty. Two-thirds of both Houses of Congress, or the legislatures of two-thirds of the States, may take the initiative; and the amendment, whether framed by Congress or by a Convention, must be ratified by the votes of three-fourths of the States after the manner appointed by Congress. In this one small cell resides the possibility of revolutionary changes being effected in the American Constitution by legal means.+ The direct amendments, as might
* In an interesting but not impartial account of the debates in the Senate in J. G. Blaine's "Twenty Years of Congress," p. 251.
Art. 5. — The Congress, whenever two-thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to
be expected, have been few. The Constitution has been changed more by development and interpretation than by positive and open alteration.
2. THE PRESIDENT.—A recent American writer describes the President as wielding powers which have been unknown in this country since the English people cut off the head of Charles I. The statement is not an exaggeration. The President of the United States is one of the most striking figures in the phenomena of government. Neither king nor premier in any free country is to be compared to him, although he unites the functions of both. In office his powers are vast; out of office he returns to the obscurity from which the voice of the people had called him. To-day he can by his mere word quash the legislation of a Congress which represents nearly sixty millions of men; he wields the patronage of ninety thousand public offices; he is the chief of the nation in war as in peace; he shapes, if he does not dictate, the foreign policy of the country, and pardons those whom the this Constitution, or, on the application of the Legislatures of two-thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of this Constitution when ratified by the Legislatures of three-fourths of the several States, or by Conventions or three-fourths thereof, as one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress. Provided that no amendment that may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article, and that no State without its consent shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.
laws have condemned, all without question or control, save the last remedy of impeachment. To-morrow he will have an advertisement in the newspapers soliciting the patronage of the public in the business or profession to which he belongs.
The manner of a President's election deserves special consideration. Everybody knows the overwhelming importance of the presidential election. Occurring at regular intervals of four years, requiring long months of preparation and canvassing; involving not merely the choice of the nation's chief, but the control by one or other party of national affairs for four years to come, it corresponds to a general parliamentary election in this country, and equally disturbs the ordinary business pursuits of the people. What is called the presidential election is legally only the election of delegates charged with the election of a President and a Vice-President. The delegates are free, under unimportant restrictions, to name whom they please, and it was undoubtedly the intention and belief of the framers of the constitution that they should exercise a free choice—that they should stand, in this one matter, between the people and its elective head, as a Parliament or a Congress stands between the people and its legislative decrees. But no delegate for a moment dreams of voting for any but the candidate selected by his party, and no citizen votes for a delegate on his own merits, or otherwise than as an instrument for carrying into effect the choice of the party, made and published many months before the election.