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are unconstitutional, and forbidden by the supreme law of the land, in like manner as'would be any direct or indirect attempts to render it a pure aristocracy, oligarchy, or monarchy. The original and fundamental idea of our institutions is sacred, inviolable, obligatory, for our whole people, both collectively and individually, whether in convention or ont of it. This idea is not simple, but complex, and is, no donbt, far from being at all acceptable to political theorists of one school or of another, but this, perhaps, is a merit. We cannot understand to what good use political theorists can be put, or under what obligation any statesman is to consult their pleasure. Speculators on government, next to speculators on religion, are the greatest public nuisance we are acquainted with. Thank God! the early settlers of this country were, for the most part, plain, practical men, of strong good sense, and no political speculators. They were ardent lovers of liberty, no doubt, as are all true men, but without any conception of what in these days of infidel raving and flimsy sentimentalism passes under that sacred name. They were Englishmen, and they brought with them the institutions of their mother country, as far as these could be adapted to the circumstances in which they were to be placed in this new world. Their political system was fundamentally the English system. When the colonies attained to majority and set up for themselves, they retained the system, simply modified, again, to meet their new circumstances. It is in this system we are to seek the type of our constitution, not in modern democratic theories. Our constitution is fundamentally the British constitution, without the hereditary house of lords and the hereditary monarchy. These are excluded, for the king and lords were not here; and the essential difference of our constitution from the British lies precisely in excluding these, and in the contrivances adopted to supply their absence.
The democratic doctrine of the sovereignty of the people back of civil society finds no place in the British system. The commons are powerful; but they are an estate, not the entire civil body; and they derive their power in the administration from the civil constitution, not from the law of nature, and hold it as a franchise, not as a natural right. The state knows nothing of the “rights of man,” in the sense of the notorious infidel and charlatan, Thomas Paine, the great political teacher, mediately or immediateiy, of a large proportion of the American youth; it knows only tie rights of Englishmen. Liberty with it is British liberty, and anthority British authority. The same principle holds with us. The American people, politically considered, are the English commons transported here; and their rights derive, not from the law of nature, as dream our political theorists, but from civil society, which grants and guaranties them. Let no American believe in Thomas Paine, tbr. Thetford weaver. Let no man believe any more in Mr. Bancroft's History of the Colonization of the United States, a brilliant work, nay, an able work, but whose anthor. iike Gibbon, possesses the art of falsifying history without misstating facts, and who has written, not for the sake of giving the history of his country, but of promulgating his humanitarian theories of government and religion. Our liberty is not natural liberty, but American liberty; we possess our rights, not becanse we are men, but because we are American citizens. The right of suffrage is not a natural, but a civil right, and in its nature is a civil trust; the right of the majority in ordinary cases to rule, so important a feature in our system, derives from civil society, not from nature; for under the natural law all men are equal, and each man is independent of all others.
The declaration of independence left a gap in our systein, a serious defect, because the people representing the commons were not the entire civil body. This defect the conventions and congresses of the time undertook to supply, and to supply out of such elements as American society afforded. But they, at first, did it only imperfectly; they left too large a margin to the commons,—ample space to develop into a pure democracy, which would have been fatal to the American state. To prevent this result, and to provide more effectual checks against the democratic tendency, which soon became excessive, the convention of 1787 was assembled to amend the constitution. In this sense they could amend it, for amendments which supply defects and tend to preserve the essential idea of the constitution, secure the more perfect realization of its original type, are lawful, as we have conceded. That the convention was assembled for the purpose of more effectually supplying this defect which onr separation from Great Britain left in our constitution, and to provide stronger checks against the democratic tendency, is undeniable. Mr. Madison's reports of the debates in the convention fully establish it. “ The evils we experience," said Mr. Gerry, "flow from excessive democracy.” * Mr. Randolph observed that “the general object was to provide a cure for the evils under which the United States labored; that, in tracing these evils to their origin, every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy; that some check, therefore, was to be sought for against this tendency of our government.” + Other distinguished members said as much; no one contradicted them, and the convention evidently took it for granted that their chief mission was to guard against excessive democracy, and without introducing the hereditary elements which the constitution excluded. It is also clear, from the same authority, as well as from other sources, that the convention did not provide as strong checks against democracy as they wished, or believed to be necessary, for fear, if they did, they would be unable to get their amendments adopted by the people.
It is well known that General Washington, the father of his country, and at least one of the soundest heads and purest patriots the country has ever produced, apprehended from the first that too much liberty was allowed to democracy; and so did Adams, Hamilton, and all the distinguished men of the old Federal party,--men who, though decried by Mr. Jefferson and the French Jacobins, were the great men of their times, and whose practical political views contrast favorably with the brilliant and fanciful theories of their opponents. The Federalists have passed away; their party is among the things that were; they may have had their faults, and have erred in particulars; but the stability of the government and its constitutional purity depend on a speedy return to their general principles. We may well say this, for we were reared in the doctrine that they were traitors to their country and the bitter enemies of liberty. But we have lived long enough to find that Liberty's best friends are seldom those who make the loudest professions of friendship and drink the deepest toasts in lier honor. Mr. Jefferson was regarded as a great friend of liberty, but he, when president, knowingly, deliberately, as he himself confesses, violated the constitution of his country, which he had sworn “to preserve, protect, and defend.”
As the weak point in our constitution is the too great strength of democracy, or the feebleness of the checks provided by the convention of 1787 against it, the American statesman, in order to be faithful to the constitution, must study to strengthen these checks as far as he can constitutionally, and to repress the tendency of democracy to become exclusive. This was, as is well known, the policy pursued by General Washington, in his administration, and also by his immediate successor, the elder Adams. Let politicians say what they will, it is due to the constitutional administrations of Washington and Adams, to the hightoned conservative principles on which they were conducted, and to the little deference that under them was paid to demagogues and radicals, that our government has not now to be numbered among the things that were. Washington and Adams identified the people with civil society, not civil society with the people; recognized the popularity in the civility, not the civility in the popularity; and placed the government on a legal and conservative basis, from which it required the iron will and immense energy of General Jackson to remove it, and from which even he could not entirely remove it. The effects of the wise and profoundly conservative policy of the administrations of Washington and Adams are still felt, and have given to the administrations which have succeeded them all that they have had worthy of commendation. It is only by a sincere and hearty return to that policy that we can hope to save the country from the curse of lawless and shameless democracy,—a dernocracy which can, if left to itself, develop only in anarchy, which must be the precursor of military despotism.
* The Madison Papers, p. 753.
[Ibid, p. 758.
A favorable opportunity offers itself now for this return. General Cass--an able, in many respects a worthy, man, but the representative of the expansive or progressive democracy, of “the manifest destiny" principle—has been defeated, and the American people have elected to the chief magistracy, in opposition to him, a man of great force of character, of tirun will, a practical cast of mind, free from the rage of theorizing, brought up in the camp, and therefore accustomed both to obey and to be obeyed, unpledged to systems or parties, and of immense popularity. If he comprehends his position, and is equal to it, he has a glorions opportunity of proving himself a second father of his country, and of rivalling Washington in his civic wisdom and virtue, as he has already approached him in his brilliant military achievements. Never since Washington had a president of these United States so fine a chance to distinguish himself by rendering important services to his country and to the world. Now is the TIME; we hope General Taylor is the man. If the present time is not improved, it is all but in vain to hope for another. With the false doctrines of our popular politicians, with the strong democratic tendency of our people, with the fearful progress radicalism has already made, with these democratic and socialistic rev. olutions hourly occurring abroad, shaking the Old World to its centre, and reacting on us with a treinendous force, it is to be feared, that, if we do not now take measures to strengthen the barriers against the popular movement, and to secure the supremacy of the constitution and the majesty of the state, it will henceforth be for ever too late. We hope in a good Providence that the new American administration will duly consider this matter, place the government once more, after so many years, on the conservative basis, and study to consolidate order and liberty within the state, rather than to extend our territories, and captivate us with the false glow of a delusive external splendor.
RECENT EUROPEAN EVENTS.
(From Brownson's Quarterly Review for July, 1818.)
Our views of revolutions in general are well known, and we have at present no occasion to repeat them. We have seen nothing in the recent events in Europe that seems to us to call for any modification of the doctrines which we have uniformly contended for, however unpalatable they may be to the visionary politicians of the day. we, in common with every man worthy of the name of man, abhor despotism; but we abhor the despotism of mobs more than that of kings. The king may be licentious, wicked, and delight to oppress his subjects; but nature ordinarily sets soine liinits to his power, and the principal weight of his oppression falls upon the higher classes rather than upon the lower. There is for the great body of the people in general such a thing as living under his government. There are nooks and corners where his eye cannot penetrate and his arm cannot reach. But under the mob, unless you join