« ForrigeFortsett »
will, checked but not governed by her parliament; but only communities can govern themselves and dispense with every form of absolute authority. There is profound truth in Sir Henry Maine's remark that the men who colonized America and made its governments, to the admiration of the world, could never have thus masterfully taken charge of their own affairs and combined stability with liberty in the process of absolute self-government if they had not sprung of a race' habituated to submit to law and authority, if their fathers had not been the subjects of kings, if the stock of which they came had not served the long apprenticeship of political childhood during which law was law without choice of their own. Self-government is not a mere form of institutions, to be had when desired, if only proper pains be taken. It is a form of character. It follows upon the long discipline which gives a people self-possession, self-mastery, the habit of order and peace and common counsel, and a reverence for law which will not fail when they themselves become the makers of law: the steadiness and self-control of political maturity. And these things cannot be had without long discipline.
The distinction is of vital concern to us in respect of practical choices of policy which we must make, and make very soon. We have dependencies to deal with and must deal with them in the true spirit of our own institutions. We can give the Filipinos constitutional government, a government which they may count upon to be just, a government based upon some clear and equitable understanding, intended for their good and not for our aggrandizement; but we must ourselves for the present supply that government. It would, it is true, be an unprecedented operation, reversing the process of Runnymede, but America has before this shown the world enlightened processes of politics that were without precedent. It would have been within the choice of John to summon his barons to Runnymede and of his own initiative enter into a constitutional understanding with them; and it is within our choice to do a similar thing, at once wise and generous, in the government of the Philippine Islands. But we cannot
give them self-government. Self-government is not a thing that can be "given" to any people, because it is a form of character and not a form of constitution. No people can be "given" the self-control of maturity. Only a long apprenticeship of obedience can secure them the precious possession, a thing no more to be bought than given. They cannot be presented with the character of a community, but it may confidently be hoped that they will become a community under the wholesome and salutary influences of just laws and a sympathetic administration; that they will after a while understand and master themselves, if in the meantime they are understood and served in good conscience by those set over them in authority.
We of all people in the world should know these fundamental things and should act upon them, if only to illustrate the mastery in politics which belongs to us of hereditary right. To ignore them would be not only to fail and fail miserably, but to fail ridiculously and belie ourselves. Having ourselves gained self-government by a definite process which can have no substitute, let us put the peoples dependent upon us in the right way to gain it also.
5. THE ORIGIN OF REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT.
Popular government in Ancient Greece and Rome was realized by the citizens coming together in an assembly to discuss and vote upon the measures submitted to them. At Rome this method in time broke down because of the increase in the number of citizens and the steady expansion of the territory in which they resided. Those citizens living at a distance from the city were unable to exercise their political rights because they could not go daily to the Forum to vote. It never occurred to the Roman citizen that he could exercise this right by sending a representative to act for him. That was an English discovery. How it was discovered and how it was transplanted from England to America is explained by Professor J. R. Commons:
The original object which produced representative assemblies was nationalization. This is shown in the twofold aspect of the union of local governments into a nation, and the
coalescence of social classes in a single representative assembly.
The English nation, from which our representative institutions were inherited, was formed by welding together independent local communities into a central organization, with out destroying the local governments. Previous experiments in nationalization had resulted in the tyranny of the capital city and the slavery of the provinces. The reason is plain to every historical student, and the same forces were working to the same outcome in England. But the principle of representation, almost unknown to the ancients, was discovered; and it permitted the unity of a nation, while preserving the freedom of the localities.
The primitive idea of a law-making body was the primary assembly of all the warriors. The king and his chief advisers agreed on resolutions, and offered them to a simple yea and nay vote of the army. Every freeman had the right to appear in his own person in the national assembly. After the Norman conquest this right was retained in theory, but abandoned in practice. Gradually only the wealthy land-owners, the tenants in chief, and the higher clergy appeared. The distances were too great, the expense too heavy, and their influence too slight, for the small land-owners to continue attendance. And as for the serfs and the town merchants and artisans, they never had the right. Thus the king and his council of magnates became the sole government of England. They enacted the laws and controlled their enforcement. The people had no voice, neither were they represented.
Slowly two forces were at work. The king gave away his private estates, upon which he was supposed to support himself and his administration, and was therefore compelled to look elsewhere for funds. During the same time the unrepresented classes of small farmers and town merchants and workmen were acquiring wealth. The king was forced to ask them for contributions, or "subsidies," to help him in his wars. Experience showed that these aids could not be secured by compulsion. The king must obtain the consent of
his subjects. Neither could their hearty consent and co-operation be obtained when they were approached privately and individually. They must have the king's affairs laid before them in assembly, and the state of his exchequer explained. But a national primary assembly of all the people was impossible. However, there was in existence the more or less well-organized county government, with a history running far back into Anglo-Saxon times. Here was a convenient primary assembly of all the land-owners, twice a year at the county seat, when the king's justices made their circuit. Here the germs of representation had appeared in the practice of electing juries to present the criminal matters of the county before the king's judges, and of electing assessors to levy the king's taxes upon the county. Also there was a true legislative representation in the practice of the rural towns and the boroughs, which sent delegates to the county courts. Very naturally, it occurred to the king to ask this county primary to elect "two good and discreet knights," who should represent the land-owners before him, and hear and act upon his demands.
In the towns, also, had quietly grown up the merchant and craft guilds, compact organizations of tradesmen and manufacturers, with mutual interests mutually protected. When the king could no longer wring from them money by coercion, he invited them to send their two accredited delegates for a national gathering of guild representatives.
What is the significance of these devices? In ancient Rome the tax collectors swarmed from the imperial city with proconsuls and armies at their backs, to exact arbitrary tribute from the provinces. Provincial self-government, and with it liberty and rights of property, were destroyed. In England the provinces joined with the central government, through their elected representatives, in determining the rate of taxation and in assessing it to individuals. Concessions in turn were made by the king, grievances were redressed, local selfgovernment, and with it liberty and rights of property, were maintained.
In America, too, the problem of representative government has been that of nationalization. It has passed three stages. First, counties and towns were united into colonies; second, colonies united in the Confederation; third, States formed the nation. By the first, the State legislatures arose; by the third, the national Congress.
Just as the physical child, according to the biologists, repeats in a brief time its ancestral history of geological ages, so did the colonies, the children of English political institutions, repeat in a few years the slow and painful evolution of centuries. The stages are best recorded in Maryland. Originally the Constitution, as framed by the proprietor, consisted of the governor, appointed by the proprietor, a council, appointed by the governor, and a primary assembly of all the freemen. At first all could attend. But settlements expended over a wide area. At the second assembly, in 1638, those who could not attend in person were allowed to send proxies. But proxies were apparently bought up by the governor and his council in order to override the popular wish. In 1639 the third assembly met. On this occasion the various "hundreds" were instructed to elect representatives. Yet, after the election, one person, at least, came forward and claimed the right of appearing in person, on the ground that he had voted in the minority and so was not represented. The claim was allowed. In 1642 the assembly became typically representative by excluding the proxies and those appearing in their own right, and limiting its membership to those elected by the localities. Thus the lingering hope of doing justice to the unrepresented minority was abandoned. But the colony was united on the basis of local interests.
In the colony of Massachusetts Bay we find again similar conditions and a similar outcome. "The growth of fresh settlements brought with it an expansion of the constitutional machinery of the colony.. The Constitution of Massachusetts was older than the existence of the colony. The legislature of the colony was simply the general court of the company transferred across the Atlantic. At the same time