페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

resuit from an apprehension of the federal, as was produced by the dread of a foreign yoke; and unless the projected innovations should be voluntarily renounced, the same appeal to a trial of forco would be mado in the one caso, as was made in the other. But what degree of madness could ever drive the federal government to such an extremity? In the contest with Great Britain, one part of the empire was employed against the other. The more numerous part invaded the rights of the less numerous part. The attempt was unjust and unwise; but it was not in speculation absolutely chimerical. But what would be the contest, in the case we are supposing? Who would be the parties? A few representatives of the people would be opposed to the people themselves; or rather one set of representatives would be contending against thirteen sets of representatives, with the whole body of their common constituents on the side of the latter.

The only refuge left for those who prophesy the downfal of the state governments, is the visionary supposition, that the federal government may previously accumulate a military force for the projects of ambition. The reasonings contained in these papers must have been employed to little purpose indeed, if it could be necessary now to disprove the reality of this danger. That the people and the states should, for a sufficient period of time, elect an uninterrupted succession of men ready to betray both; that the traitors should, throughout this period, uniformly and systematically pursue some fixed plan for the extension of the military establishment; that the governments and the people of the states should silently and patiently behold the gathering storm, and continue to supply the materials, until it should be prepared to burst on their own heads, must appear to every one more like the incoherent dreams of a delirious jealousy, or the misjudged exaggerations of a counterfeit zeal, than like the sober apprehensions of genuine patriotism. Extravagant as the supposition is, let it howerer be made. Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the derotion of the federal government;

still it would not be going too far to say, that the state governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger. The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army con lo carried in any country: does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. Tbis proportion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To theso would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their bands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced, could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops. Those, who are best acquainted with the late successful resistance of this country against the British arms, will bo most inclined to deny tho possibility of it. Besides tho advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any wbich a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments aro afraid to trust the peoplo with arms. And it is not certain, that with this aid alone, they would not be able to shake off their yokes. But were the people to possess the additional advantages of local governments chosen by themselves, who could collect tho national will, and direct the national force, and of officers appointed out of the militia, by, these governments, and attached both to them and to the militia, it may be affirmed with the greatest assurance, that the throno of every tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned in spite of the legions which surround it. Let us not insult the free and gallant citizens of America with the suspicion, that

they wou.d be less able to defend the rights of which they would be in actual possession, than the debased subjects of arbitrary power would be to rescue theirs from the hands of their

oppres sors. Let us rather no longer insult then with the supposition, that they can ever reduce themselves to the necessity of making the experiment, by a blind and tamo submission to the long train of insidious measures which must precede and produce it.

The argument under the present head may be put into a very concise form, which appears altogether conclusive. Either the mode in which the federal government is to be constructed, will render it sufficiently dependent on the people, or it will not. On the first supposition, it will be restrained by that dependence from forming schemes obnoxious to their constituents. On the other supposition, it will not possess the confidence of the people, and its schemes of usurpation will be easily defeated by the stato governments; which will be supported by the people.

On summing up the considerations stated in this and the last paper, they seem to amount to the most convincing evidence, that the powers proposed to be lodged in the federal government, are as little formidable to those reserved to the individual states, as they are indispensably necessary to accomplish the purposes of the union; and that all thoso alarms which have been sounded, of a meditated and consequential annihilation of the state governments, must, on the most favourable interpreta. tion, be ascribed to the chimerical fears of the authors of thens.

PUBLIUS.

THE FEDERALIST.

NUMBER XLVII.

NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 1, 1788.

MADISON.

THE MEANING OF THE MAXIM, WHICH REQUIRES A SEPARATION OF

THE DEPARTMENTS OF POWER, EXAMINED AND ASCERTAINED.

Having reviewed the general form of the proposed government, and the general mass of power allotted to it; I proceed to examine the particular structure of this government, and the distribution of this mass of power among its constituent parts.

One of the principal objections inculcated by the more respectable adversaries to the constitution, is its supposed violation of the political maxim, that the legislativo, executive, and judiciary departments, ought to be separate and distinct. In the structure of tho fodoral governmont, no regard, it is said, seems to have been paid to this essential precaution in favour of liberty. The several departments of power are distributed and blended in such a manner, as at once to destroy all symmetry and beauty of form; and to expose some of the essential parts of the edifice to the danger of being crushed by the disproportionate weight of other parts.

No political truth is certainly of greater intrinsic value, or is stamped with the authority of more enlightened patrons of liberty, than that on which the objection is founded. The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary,

the very

in the same. hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether aereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced

definition of tyranny. Were the federal constitutión, therefore, really chargeable with this accumulation of power, or with a mixture of powers, having a dangerous tendency to such an accumulation, no further arguments would be necessary to inspire a universal reprobation of the system. I persuade myself, however, that it will be made apparent to every pne, that the charge cannot be supported, and that the maxim on which it relies has been totally misconceived and misapplied. In order to form correct ideas on this important subject, it will be proper to investigate the sense in which the preservation of liberty requires, that the three great departments of power should be separate and distinct.

The oracle who is always consulted and cited on this subject, is the celebrated Montesquieu. If he be not the author of this invaluable precept in the science of politics, he has the merit at least of displaying and recommending it most effectually to the attention of mankind. Let us endeavour, in the first place, to ascertain his meaning on this point.

The British constitution was to Montesquieu, what Homer has been to the didactic writers on epic poetry. As the latter have considered the work of the immortal bard, as the porfect model from which the principles and rulos of the opic art wero to be drawn, and by which all similar works were to be judged: so this great political critic appears to have viewed the constitution of England as the standard, or to use his own expression, as the mirror of political

liberty: and to have delivered, in the form of elementary truths, the several characteristic principles of that particular system. That we may be sure then not to mistake his meaning in this case, let us recur to the source from which the maxim was drawn.

On the slightest view of the British constitution, we must perceive, that the legislative, executive, and judiciary departments, are by no means totally separate and distinct from each other. The executivo magistrate forms an integral part of the

[blocks in formation]
« 이전계속 »