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shall be proved, and the effect thereof. Congress have passed a few laws to carry this last clause into execution; but have not yet, by any means, done all that could be done to attain the object that it has in viewthe convenience of the citizens.
SECTION 12.—Mode of amending the Constitution.
It is the duty of congress to propose amendments to the constitution, whenever two-thirds of both houses deem it necessary; and on the application of the legislatures of the several states, they are bound to call a convention for proposing amendments. In either case, when the amendments proposed are ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three-fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode may be proposed by congress, they become parts of the constitution. No state, however, without its consent, can be deprived of its equal suffrage in the senate.
Fourteen amendments have already been made to the constitution on the proposition of congress in pursuance of these powers, which in the above sketch have been considered as a part of the original instrument, and, therefore, are not otherwise separately noticed. They now form a part of the constitution quite as much as if they had been originally inserted in it.
Thus we have presented to our readers a brief view of the constitution of the United States, which, on cool and mature reflection, we cannot help considering as the most perfect system of government that has ever existed among mankind. It has, as far as it has gone, solved the problem of the possibility of the existence of a republic in a widely extended country, and the means, never thought of before, has been found to effect that which was considered as next to impossible, the combination of the federal and national systems of government, so nicely and so skilfully balanced, that one does not seem to preponderate over the other. It was a bold thought of the framers of this instrument to vest the dreaded powers of the purse and the sword in the hands of the national congress, which far from producing the mischiefs that were anticipated by some, has given strength and power to the United States, and left the states of which the Union is composed, possessed of as much freedom, sovereignty and independence as is necessary for their happiness and welfare, and the preservation of their liberties.
If we consider the constitution in respect to its organization, we shall find the most perfect balance between the two apparently opposite principles of national and state sovereignty. The senate, from its equality of votes and the mode of election of its members, is the natural guardian of the sovereignty of the states, while the popular branch of the national legislature, naturally hostile to the encroachments of power, will watch over the rights and liberties of the people. Both are the offspring of the states, to which at short intervals they must return.
Nor is the distribution of powers between the federal and the state governments less worthy of admiration. At first view, it might appear, as if these powers were most unequally distributed. The supreme rights of empire, jura summi imperii, as they are called, with the purse and the sword, as the means for carrying them into execution, have a formidable aspect; and it would seem as if the national government could easily swallow up the sovereignty of the states. But the danger, if any there be, seems rather to be on the other side. The independent organization of the state governments with their legislatures, governors, militia, judiciary and ministerial officers, with uncontrolled jurisdiction within their constitutional limits; the very name of that sovereignty and independence, which they possess in a great degree, and of which they are excessively jealous; the means they have in their power of collecting and
combining their force without the appearance of illegality; all these things form a strong counterpoise to the authority of the general government, which with all its ample powers, operates but little on the individual citizens, whereas the state officers are constantly in contact with them, and have greater means of securing their attachment. The national government, as we have before observed, is frequently obliged to require the aid of the state authorities to carry its laws into effect; and on the continuance of this auxiliary system, as we have already observed, depends in a great measure the preservation of the Union, as it now exists.
This Union has already experienced severe trials, but has come off victorious from them all. Nor is there any real danger to be apprehended, while the people remain virtuous, and true to themselves. What ambition and luxury and the increasing spirit of party may produce in a series of years, it is impossible to foretell. All that the patriot can do, is to wish that the period of the dissolution of this happy Union may be protracted to the end of time.