government: Monarchy, Aristocracy, Democracy, and Mixed Governments. The American form is none of these, nor any combination of them. It is original, a new contribution to political science, and seeks to attain the end of all wise and just government by means unknown or forbidden to the ancients, and which have been but imperfectly comprehended even by American political writers themselves."1


Not a Consolidated Republic nor

a League of States.

Our government is not a simple, or consolidated republic on the one hand, nor, on the other, is it a league of States. seem to suppose that there is no middle ground between these two; that the denial of the one is equivalent to the affirmation of the other. The American people constitute a Nation, with a republican government. The Nation has a Constitution in which the character of the government is clearly delineated. This Constitution is the supreme law of the land. But the country is divided into divisions, called States, each of which has a constitution. The people of the whole Nation have made the general Constitution, while the people of each State have made a constitution for that political division. The National Constitution is operative throughout the whole domain; it is binding on all the people. The constitution of a State is confined in its operation to the State limits; beyond them it has no force. But within the State it is the organic law, whose provisions, unless conflicting with the National Constitution or the laws enacted under it, must be carried out. Were the government a league of States, there could be no supreme National government; were the Nation a consolidated republic, there could be no State constitutions. Unquestionably, the American people are a single people, a Nation in the same sense, and just as truly, as the people of France. But at the same time the National Constitution every-where recognizes the existence of the States, with their separate constitutions and their various departments.

1 Brownson, page 5.

County and
State Not
Like State
and Nation.

Were our government a simple republic, we should have no laws except those enacted at Washington. In that case, a county would bear to a State the same relation that a State does to the Nation, as is sometimes affirmed to be the case now. But the statement is incorrect. A county can do nothing politically which it is not authorized by the State to do. A State can do any thing politically which does not contravene a law or the Constitution of the Nation. The people of a county, as such, have no constitution, and have no power to form one. The people of a State have a constitution, and may alter it at pleasure, provided its provisions are in harmony with the National laws and Constitution. The county originates nothing; all its power comes to it from a political body above it. The State originates every thing; its power coming directly from the people themselves. But although the States have constitutions, and derive their governmental authority from the people, this does not make them sovereign states, or the general government a mere confederacy. The American people are one people, yet their government is not a consolidated one. They exist in States, yet their government is not a confederated one. From the day when the Declaration of American Independence was made, they have existed as a Nation, yet grouped into States. The Nation and the thirteen original States began their existence together. Neither preceded, neither followed. The American people "have not, as an independent sovereign people, either established their union, or distributed themselves into distinct and mutually independent States. The union and the distribution, the unity and the distinction, are both original in their Constitution, and they were born United States as much and as truly so as the son of a citizen is born a citizen, or as every one born at all is born a member of society, the family, the tribe, or the nation. The Union and the States were born together, are inseparable in their Constitution, have lived and grown together; and no serious attempt

The Nation and the States Born Together.

till the late secession movement has been made to separate them."

"Say the people of the United States are one people, in all respects, and under a government which is neither a consolidated nor a confederated government, nor yet a The Powers mixture of the two, but one in which the powers




of government are divided between a general government and particular governments, each emanating from the same source, and you will have the simple fact.”2 "Strictly speaking, the government is one, and its powers only are divided and exercised by two sets of agents or ministries." 3 To the same purpose Jameson: “And here I may remark that the Constitution of the United States is a part of the constitution of each State, whether referred to in it or not, and that the constitutions of all the States form a part of the Constitution of the United States. An aggregation of all these constitutional instruments would be precisely the same in principle as a single constitution, which, framed by the people of the Union, should define the powers of the general government, and then by specific provisions erect the separate government of the States, with all their existing attributions and limitations

[merged small][ocr errors]

One Government

in Two Spheres.

No other nation has such a distribution of the powers of government. Foreigners almost universally fail to comprehend it, and many of our own people find it a perplexing subject. The general government and the particular governments together constitute the government of the United States. The former is general, as its care extends to the whole Union; the governments of the States are particular, as limited to the local interests of the individual States. The two in combination form the one supreme National government, or government of the United States. It is one government, exercising its powers in

1 Brownson, page 222. 2 Ibid, page 231. 3 Ibid, page 250. Jameson, page 87.

two different spheres. The authority comes from the same people, the people of the United States, in whom is the whole sovereignty. As stated above by Judge Jameson, the general Constitution and the constitutions of the States might be considered as one great instrument. There are, first, those articles which are concerned with the interests of the whole, and then, in succession, those which relate to the particular and local interests of the several States.

The People

of each State have Two Constitutions.

Or we may say that the people of each State have two constitutions; one local and particular, the other general. The latter has been adopted by them in conjunction with the people of the rest of the Nation; the former they have adopted by themselves, yet taking care that none of its provisions are in conflict with those of the general Constitution. The local constitution is no more the constitution of a particular State than the general Constitution is. The people of New York, by their ratification of the general Constitution, and the people of Ohio, by their adoption of it at their entrance into the Union, have made it their own as truly as those constitutions for the adoption of which they alone voted. Every provision of the Constitution of the United States is to be regarded as expressing the will of the people of Ohio as much as any provision of the constitution of that State. There is, thus, no legitimate place for conflict between the general government and the governments of the States, because they have all been formed by the same authority-the people of the Nation. It was never intended that these should be arrayed against each other like political parties, or serve as "checks and balances," after the example of some other governments.






HE Colonies which declared their independence of Great Britain in 1776, and formed a new nation, known from that time as The United States of America, were The thirteen in number; viz., Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. These had been settled at various times, from 1607, when the settlement of Virginia was commenced at Jamestown, to 1732, when the Colony of Georgia was established. They were not all settled as so many distinct colonies, but various changes had taken place among them. Thus, the Colony of Massachusetts, as it existed at the beginning of the War of the American Revolution, embraced what constituted originally three distinct colonies: that of Massachusetts Bay, that of New Piymouth, and the Province of Maine.' The Colony of New Haven had been merged in 1665 in that of Connecticut. The Carolinas, on the other hand, had been divided; and what was at first a single colony, under the name of Carolina, was made two in 1732, and the divisions were called by the present names of North Carolina and South Carolina.

1 These were incorporated into one by a charter granted by William and Mary in 1691, under the name of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England.

« ForrigeFortsett »