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basis, their subsequent operation is simple; their expansion with the increase of business is a natural growth. System becomes king under a government of law. The law directs; that direction never changes if the law is stable ; the initial operation of the law once properly systematized, thenceforth established precedent is followed, and subordinates can tread the steps of the revolving wheel.
The English criticism upon our Constitution is, that it is written, and therefore unchangeable except by amendment; that experience shows that amendment is rarely attempted, because difficult to be accomplished ; that therefore the great nation of to-day is cramped within the charter framed a century ago; a charter which, however well it may have been adapted to a small people, with few needs and imperfect development, must necessarily be ill adapted to a great people, with great needs, great resources, and great development. In other words, the garment made for the infant in its cradle must do service for the giant in his strength.
This criticism seems plausible, but it is unjust. To change the figures lightly: The child is father to the man. The infant in its cradle becomes the giant in manhood, with the same members, organs, powers, and functions. If these are perfect in their germ, maturity develops but does not multiply them. The powers conferred by the Constitution a century ago remain unchanged. Time has expanded and developed, but has not multiplied them.
Their expansion and development have been sufficiently ample to embrace every subject that ought to be brought within the scope of national influence and control. Foreign criticism takes little note of that great body of governmental powers which are reserved to the states, or may be committed by the people to them, and with which the nation has nothing to do. Reforms in the laws and in the methods of domestic government are matters of state concern. England has not refused to reform her laws and methods of government, following in many important particulars the examples which have been given her by the states of the Union. The powers reserved to the people in these respects embrace nearly every governmental power essential to a wise and lib
HARMONY OF THE TWO SYSTEMS.
eral government. The Constitution of the United States enjoins and promotes, instead of restricting, the best possible republican domestic government which the people can devise for their respective states.
The hostile foreign critic seems scarcely able to understand that, while the nation retains its Constitution as framed a hundred
years ago, the several states are studious to attain in their domestic government the best results of the experience of the nineteenth century. Hostile criticism, to be just, must examine our dual system of government; and, conceding that the states are unféttered in their domestic governments, must show that the growth of the nation has demonstrated the need of national powers for which our Constitution does not provide.
The American critic, better instructed in this double system of government, is not slow to conclude that the nation, under the Constitution, is now equipped with powers, ample and adequate for all its needs and purposes ; and that they could not be multiplied without a surrender by the people and the states of powers which, in the hands of the nation, might prove dangerous to their liberties.
This conclusion must impress him with profound admiration for the wisdom of the framers of the Constitution. They felt that they were making an experiment; but time, growth, development, expansion of territory, a new era of immigration, enterprise, and invention, alike attest the adequacy and completeness of the powers granted, and the aptness and accuracy of their enumeration.
With the lapse of the century, the national government has grown to fill its constitutional place. The state governments experience now what they failed to do at first, of their security and freedom under the protection of the nation. They are freed from the care of foreign and national affairs; they have become stronger, wiser, and better from the international association with each other. Assured of their position and powers, they govern the people wisely and happily.
It will be instructive to trace some of the more important steps by which our national government passed from theory
into practice; and to recount some of the difficulties, controversies, and dangers through which, as through a school of instruction and discipline, both states and nation have come the better to know, respect, and help each other, and together form a harmonious government, for the benefit of the governed.
The new government under the new Constitution went into operation as an experiment. It was a mere scheme upon paper, and its power to become useful or to continue to exist had to be demonstrated by the result. The powers conferred upon the new government were enumerated, but not defined. Their definition would ultimately depend upon the extent to which it would be prudent or practicable to assert and em. ploy them. Skill, courage, and energy would make good a broad definition. Timidity, cowardice, or disloyalty would shrivel them into insignificance. The practical test might make or ruin all.
It is a curious reflection that the United States government, to begin with, was nothing but a few sheets of paper, lying in the drawer of the secretary of the confederate Congress, with about five thousand words written on them. Would the words ever have life, substance, strength, significance, supremacy?
The hostility of the states was to be a constant danger from 1789 until the close of the late civil war. The claims of state-sovereignty, state-rights, and the consequent hostility of the states, were to mark the divisions between parties, to determine the election of officers, the fortunes of statesmen, the fate of measures proposed or undertaken. That hostility would threaten again and again the integrity of the Union, until finally, joining hands with the institution of slavery, it would strike at the nation's life, but slavery would be destroyed, hostility disarmed, and the Union, at last, triumphantly established.
The deadly blow was fortunately delayed too long. With time, the benefits resulting from the national power grew more and more obvious. Time is the wisest of all. As the nation managed to live, time took its part and multiplied its friends ; it gave steadfastness to new institutions, and but
GROWTH OF PATRIOTISM.
tressed them with political habits, and long associations. Those who participated in the contentions that .centred around the foundations of the government passed away. Younger generations came on, strangers to the bitterness and distrust of their fathers. They conceived a love for the Union, and a devotion to it, which sufficed to carry it through a sea of troubles.
Note. – While these pages are in the hands of the printer, “ The American Commonwealth," by James Bryce, M. P., appears. It is a very full and appreciative presentation and exposition of our systems of government and of their practical operations. It certainly must be excepted from the remark in the text, that foreign critics do not seem to understand clearly the separate functions of our national and state governments, and the ready adaptability of the latter to the changes which experience suggests. Mr. Bryce has written in an admirable spirit of candor and fairness, and his criticisms, in which he lays bare many of our shortcomings in national, state, and municipal administration and legislation, deserve our candid consideration. He commends in the main our national and state systems, and where he has occasion to find fault with any of their parts, he does so in a kindly manner, and usually softens his implied severity by indulgently conceding that, “ after all, the practical result is much better than one would naturally expect.” He pursues, however, with something like the zest of a good-natured detective, the abuses that creep into the practical administration of affairs, especially in our municipal governments; nor does he spare legislative and other kinds of official jobbery. Political bossism” and the low plane upon which the political parties are conducted receive his severe denunciation ; not that he uses denunciatory terms, but because he has the faculty of stating his facts in such a way as to suggest denunciation. Still, his final judgment is that our resources are so great, our right tendencies so predominant, our patience under abuses so excusable, our confidence in our ultimate extinction of grosser evils so well founded, our respect for law so remarkable, and our national spirit so patriotic, that we must have before us a long, prosperous, and happy career. His closing words are: “And by so much as the people of the United States are more hopeful, by that much are they more healthy. They do not, like their forefathers, expect to attain their ideals either easily or soon ; but they say that they will continue to strive towards them, and they say it with a note of confidence in the voice which rings in the ear of the European visitor and fills him with something of their own hopefulness. America has still a long vista of years stretching before her in which she will enjoy conditions far more auspicious than England can count upon. And that America marks the highest level, not only of material well-being but of intelligence and happiness, which the race has yet attained will be the judgment of those who look not at the favored few for whose benefit the world seems hitherto to have framed its institutions, but at the whole body of the people."
COLONIAL GOVERNMENTS AND LIBERTIES. THREATENED AGGRES
sions OF THE CROWN. — INDEPENDENCE. – FORMATION OF STATE INSTITUTIONS.
BEFORE the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, the colonies afterwards composing the United States were dependencies of Great Britain. They were called colonies, and owed allegiance to the British crown. That allegiance they willingly paid. It implied the duty to aid, if need were, in defending the mother country against its enemies, and coöperating to subdue and punish them. It also implied that Great Britain should protect and defend the colonies from foreign invasion, and secure to them that measure of good government which was their due as British subjects, or was outlined in their respective charters. The colonies willingly lent their aid in support of the pretensions of England, against those of other European powers, to the territory afterwards composing the United States. From 1754 to 1760, France and England waged war for the dominion of the North American continent. More than 25,000 sturdy provincials took part as auxiliaries to the British regulars. The colonies defrayed the expenses of their own troops. The undisciplined provincial received scant respect or civility from his trained and mercenary ally, and this fact contributed not a little to the series of reverses which, up to the year 1759, seemed to promise that the English dominion must give way to the superior skill and prowess of the French. But in that year, more than in any preceding, the provincial officer and soldier were rated at their proper value, and the tide of disaster was succeeded by victories which, culminating in the capture of Quebec by the young and gallant Wolfe, gave the western world to the English race, ideas, language, and liberty. It is interesting to specu. late upon the possible contrary result. Suppose the French