« 이전계속 »
necessary to guard the union against the future powers and rosources of a body constructed like the existing congress, than to save it from the dangers threatened by the present impotency of that assembly?
I mean not, by any thing here said, to throw censure on the measures which have been pursued by congress. I am sensible they could not have done otherwise. The public interest, the necessity of the case, imposed upon them the task of overleaping their constitutional limits. But is not the fact an alarming proof of the danger resulting from a government, which does not possess regular powers commensurate to its objects? A dissolution, or usurpation, is the dreadful dilemma to which it is continually exposed.
NEW YORK, JANUARY 18, 1788.
THE CONFORMITY OF THE PLAN TO REPUBLICAN PRINCIPLES. AN OBJECTION IN RESPECT TO THE POWERS OF THE CONVENTION, EXAMINED.
The last paper having concluded the observations, which were meant to introduce a candid survey of the plan of government reported by the convention, we now proceed to the execution of that part of our undertaking.
The first question that offers itself is, whether the general form and aspect of the governmont be strictly republican?. It is evident that no other form would be reconcilable with the genius of the people of America; with the fundamental principles of the revolution; or with that honourable determination which animates every votary of freedom, to rest all our political exporiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government. If the plan of the convention, therefore, be found to depart from the republican character, its advocates must abandon it as no longer defensible.
What, then, are the distinctive characters of the republican form? Were an answer to this question to be sought,'not by recurring to principles, but in the application of the term by political writers, to the constitutions of different states, no satisfactory one would ever be found. Holland, in which no particlo
of tb, supreme authority is derived from the people, has passed almost universally under the denomination of a republic. The same title has been bestowed on Venice, where absolute power over the great body of the people is exercised, in the most absoJute manner, by a small body of hereditary nobles. Poland, which is a mixture of aristocracy and of monarchy in their worst forms, has been dignified with the same appellation. The government of England, which bas one republican branch only, combined with a hereditary aristocracy and monarchy, has, with equal impropriety, been frequently placed on the list of republics. These examples, which are nearly as dissimilar to each other as to a genuine republic, show the extreme inaccuracy with which the term has been used in political disquisitions.
If we resort, for a criterion, to the different principles on which different forms of government are established, we may define a republic to be, or at least may bestow that name on, a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure, for a limited period, or during good behaviour. It is essential to such a government, that it be derived from the great body of the society, not from an inconsiderable proportion, or a favoured class of it; otherwise a handful of tyrannical nobles, exercising their oppressions by a delegation of their powers, might aspire to the rank of republicans, and claim for their governmont the honourablo title of republic. It is sufficient for such a government, that the persons administering it be appointed, either directly or indirectly, by the people; and that they hold their appointments by either of the tenures just specified; otherwise every government in the United States, as well as every other popular government that has been or can be well organized or well executed, would be degraded from the republican character. According to the constitution of every state in the union, some or other of the officers of government are appointed indirectly only by the people. According to most of them, the chief magistrate himself is so appointed. And according to ono, this modo of appointment is
extended to one of the coordinate branches of the legislature: According to all the constitutions also, the tenure of the bighesi offices is extended to a definite period, and in many instances, both within the legislative and executive departments, to a period of years. According to the provisions of most of the constitutioñs, again, as well as according to the most respectable and received opinions on the subject, the members of the judiciary department are to retain their offices by the firm tenure of good behaviour.
On comparing the constitution planned by the convention with the standard here fixed, we perceive at once, that it is, in tho most rigid sonso, conformablo to it. Tho house of ropro sentatives, like that of one branch at least of all the state legislatures, is elected immediately by the great body of the people The senate, like the present congress, and the senate of Maryland, derives its appointment indirectly from the people. Tho president is indirectly derived from the choice of the people, according to the example in most of the states. Even the judges, with all other officers of the union, will, as in the several states, be the choice, though a remote choice, of the people themselves. The duration of the appointments is equally conform able to the republican standard, and to the model of the state constitutions. The house of representatives is periodically elective, as in all the statos; and for the period of two years, as in the stato of South Carolina. Tho sonnto is cloctivo, for tho poriod of six
years; which is but ono year more than the poriod of tho senate of Maryland; and but two more than that of the sonates of Now York and Virginia. The president is to continue in office for the period of four years; as in New York and Delaware, the chief magistrate is elected for three years, and in South Carolina for two years. In the other states the election is annual. In several of the states, however, no explicit provision is made for the impeachment of the chief magistrate. And in Delaware and Virginia. he is not impeachable till out of office. The president of the United States is impeachable at any time during bis continuance in office. The tenure by which the judges are to hold
their places, is, as it unquestionably ought to be, that of good behaviour. The tenure of the ministerial offices generally, will be a subject of legal regulation, conformably to the reason of the case, and the example of the state constitutions.
Could any further proof be required of the republican complexion of this system, the most decisive one might be found in its absolute prohibition of titles of nobility, both under the federal and the state governments; and in its express guarantee of the republican form to each of the latter.
But it was not sufficient, say the adversaries of the proposed constitution, for the convention to adhere to the republican form. They ought, with equal care, to have preserved the federal form, which regards the union as a confederacy of sovereign states; instead of which, they have framed a national government, which regards the union as a consolidation of the states. And it is asked, by what authority this bold and radical innovation was undertaken? The handle which has been made of this objection requires, that it should be examined with some precision.
Without inquiring into the accuracy of the distinction on which the objection is founded, it will be necessary to a just estimate of its force, first, to ascertain the real character of the government in question; secondly, to inquire how far the convention were authorized to propose such a government; and tbirdly, how far the duty they owed to their country, could supply any defect of regular authority.
First. In order to ascertain the real character of the govern. ment, it may be considered in relation to the foundation on which it is to be established; to the sources from which its ordinary powers are to be drawn; to the operation of those powers; to the extent of them; and to the authority by which future changes in the government are to be introduced.
On examining the first relation, it appears, on one hand, that the constitution is to be founded on the assent and ratification of the people of America, given by deputies elected for the spe'cial purpose; but on the other, that this assent and ratification is to be given by the people, not as individuals composing one