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Constitutional Government (Boston Quarterly Review, 1842)



Constitutional Government


 [From the Boston Quarterly Review for January,1842.]


Government is not, as the author of "Common Sense" 

asserts, "at best a necessary evil." It has its origin and necessity in what is good, not merely in what is bad, in human

nature.  It rests for its support on elements as pure, as elevated, and as indestructible as those on which rests religion

itself.  It will not, therefore, cease to operate, nor become

less essential as an instrument of social progress and well-

being, in proportion as men advance in wisdom and virtue,

as in contended by a portion of our modern philanthropists.

     Man was made to live in society, in intimate relations

with his race, and he can live nowhere else. It is only in

society, and by its aid, that he can grow, and expand, and 

fulfill the end of his being.

     Society is inconceivable without individuals, but it has an

existence, a destiny distinguishable, if not separable from 

theirs.  It acts ever in relation to individuals, and through 

individuals, but its action is not theirs, nor merely an aggregate of isolated activities.  It is not itself an aggregate, a 

collection, but a unity, an individuality, living its own life,

which extends from the indefinite past to the illimitable 


     Society becomes a unity, an individual, by organizing

itself onto the state or commonwealth.  So organized, it is 

government, and its action is governmental action. Or, in 

other words, and a more limited sense, government is the 

result of this organization and the agent through which it 


     Society organized into the state or commonwealth, that is,

as government, has for its mission the maintenance of every

member of the community, in the free and full possession

of all his natural liberty, and the performance, in harmony 

with this natural liberty, of those labors demanded by the 

common good of all, which necessarily surpass the reach of

individual strength, skill, and enterprise.

     The maintenance of each and every member of the com-

munity in full possession of his natural liberty is the

first duty of government. Till this be done, nothing is

gained.  But this is not all.  No individual is sufficient for

himself, and however free individuals may be, if left to act 

always as individuals, without concert, without union, association, they can accomplish little for themselves, or for the

race. Savages are as free, individually, as can be wished;

but the savage state is the lowest conceivable form of social

life.  In it there is no progress.  The individual is poor

and solitary, wandering the earth as an outcast, and doomed

to subsist on wild berries, or the scanty products of fishing

or the chase, always precarious, and at best but feebly sufficing for his subsistence.  There are labors demanded for

the growth and well-being of the individual, which no single individual can perform.  These must be performed by

association, that is, by government.  Government besides,

maintaining the natural liberty of the individual, must open

the resources of the country, construct roads and bridges,

railways and canals, open harbors, erect light-houses, protect commerce and navigation, build school-houses and

churches, asylums and hospitals, and furnish the means of

universal education, of the highest industrial, scientific, and

artistic culture for all the children born into the community.

     The ends of government are determined by the law of 

eternal and absolute justice, and are everywhere and always

the same.  Always and everywhere is it obligatory on government to maintain justice between man and man, and to

direct the activity of society to the common good of all its

members.   Of this no government may ever lose sight.  No

statesman may raise in regard to it the question of expediency, allege that it is difficult or inconsistent, and that it

may, therefore, be sacrificed to something more easily attained.

     But the form of the government is a mere question of

means to an end.  One form of government in itself is no

more just and equitable than another, and no more obligatory

upon a people.  That form is the best for a people, which

in its practical workings best realizes the true end of government.  In some countries this may be the monarchial

form, in others, the aristocratic, in others still, the democratic, or some modification of one or all of these.

     Hitherto all governments have failed to realize, in any

tolerable degree, the two-fold end of government designated.

The American governments form no exception to this statement. They have merely demonstrated that the American

people can maintain a strong and stable government without

kings or nobles; nothing more.  It remains to be demonstrated that they can establish, and maintain wise and just

governments, which fulfill their duty alike to society and

the individual.  Beyond the recognition of political rights,

our governments do nothing more for individual liberty, or

for social progress, than the governments of the more advanced European nations are doing.  In the science of legislation we are perhaps behind England, France, and even

Germany; for we are struggling with great zeal and perseverance to fasten upon the country a policy which these

nations are casting off.

      Politically we have declared all men to be equal; the

rights of one man to be the measure of those of another;

but in all other respects we are nearly as unequal in our

condition as are the people elsewhere.  Property, instead

of becoming more equally diffused, becomes relatively more

and more concentrated in a few hands.  Poverty keeps pace

with wealth, and even outruns it.  There is as gross ignorance, as filthy wretchedness with us, though confined with-

in narrower limits, as can be found on the face of the globe.

Laws are partial, and unequal in their operation.  One section of the country, or one interest is favored at the expense

of another; the administration of justice is affected by the

relative condition of the parties concerned; he with the

longer purse, or the most influential friends, is pretty sure to

have the better cause, and a rich man, though acknowledged

to be a murderer, is seldom hanged; swindlers and rogues on

a large scale are high-minded and honorable men; and the

many are taxed for the support, or the benefit of the few.

Government maintains not individual liberty, nor does it

confine itself to those labors which are for the common good

of all.  It is perpetually legislating for classes, for interests, 

and protecting one at the expense of another.  Whence the

cause of this failure? And what is the remedy?

     One class of politicians attribute the failure to the general diffusion of democracy, to the almost universal extension

of the right of suffrage; and the remedy they would pro-

pose, if they dared, is the restriction of this right to men of

property and respectability, or at least to those who have a

property stake in the community.  The number properly

qualified, in any community, for the exercise of political

power, is unquestionably small.  The voice of the multitude

is rarely the voice of God.  But the few who are qualified,

are as likely to be found among those whom these politicians

would exclude from the elective franchise, as among those

to whom they would extend it.  The ignorant multitude

are as likely to be on one side of the line as on the other;

and vice is as prevalent among the rich as among the poor,

and altogether more dangerous.  Restrict the right of suffrage to the property holders, and none of those would be

excluded who are now influential in giving to government

its false direction.  The men who cause all the mischief are

not the poor, the men who live by daily wages, but the men

of property, business men, bankers, traders, speculators, and

designing politicians, who want government administered

for their special benefit.  The restriction of suffrage, so far

as it would have any practical effect, would throw still more

power into the hands of these, and enable them to turn

government further and further from its true end.

     The evils, which obtain, result from the attempt of government to build up certain property interests.  Government never makes direct war on the natural liberty of

individuals; but destroys it by legislating for classes, for

special interests, instead of confining itself to those measures

which are equal and for the common good of all.  To place 

it entirely in the hands of any one class, or under the control of any special interest, is merely to aggravate the evil,

not to cure it.  For it is the invariable nature of every class,

of every interest, to wield, so far as it can, the whole force

of the government for its own protection and furtherance.

Found your government on property, and its whole force

will be wielded in favor of property.  Man, except so far

as his rights and interests are involved in the protection of

property, will be disregarded, and even depressed.  The evil

complained of cannot, then, be redressed by restricting the

elective franchise to the property holders.  In point of fact,

these have already too much power, and hence the evil.

     Another class of the politicians propose to remedy the evil

by enlarging the power of the democracy.  The government, they say, is too aristocratic, and ought to be made

more democratic.  This, if it were said in England or

France, would be very intelligible, but in this country it

has no meaning, or a meaning the reverse of that intended.

     Democracy here is triumphant; that is, if we mean by democracy the people, or the government of the people.

Here all are people, and all interests popular interests. The

interests fostered by government are no more aristocratic

interests than those it neglects or depresses. It is no more

aristocratic to spin cotton than it is to till the soil, to fit out a

ship for Canton, than it is to saw wood or black boots.  All

are alike interests for the people, and therefore democratic

interests.  The people here are already sovereign.  They

frame the government and administer it.  They make and

execute the laws, determine and enact the public policy of

the country.  What more, then, in favor of democracy can

be asked?

     There are only two ways in which democracy can be politically extended in this country.  The first is by removing

the few remaining restrictions on the right of suffrage; the

second is to abolish the constitutional checks now imposed 

on the action of the government.  The first cannot amount

to much. No man who watches elections, and comprehends

the influences which decide them, can believe that making

suffrage absolutely universal would vary at all their results.

The second would be to increase the power of the government and to enlarge the sphere of its activity.  But the evil

complained of does not arise from the weakness of the government, nor from the fact, that is restricted to too few

matters; but the reverse:- from its too great strength, and

from its attempting to do what government ought not to do.

The proposed remedy would be merely rendering the people

as a body politic an unlimited sovereign, and giving, in

practice, to the majority unlimited freedom to pass any laws

they please.  This would lessen no evil.

     On this subject of democracy our politicians fall into some

mistakes.  A portion of them have clear and systematic

minds.  They start with the doctrine, that the people are

sovereign, and proceed on the maxim that the people can do

no wrong.  Once clear the field for a free and full expression of the will of the people, and government would always

protect the liberty of every citizen, and be administered for

the common good of all; no monopolies, no partial or special

legislation, no fostering of special interests, would be tolerated; no laws bearing unequally on sections, interests, or individuals, would be enacted; no iniquitous public policy

would be pursued; but government, imposing burdens upon

none, would shed its blessings, like the dews of heaven, alike

on all, whether rich or poor, learned or unlearned, powerful

or without influence.  But unhappily for this theory, it is

already in practical operation.  It is difficult to conceive

what now hinders the free and full expression of the will of

the people.  They are sovereign, and can do as they please.

The government and laws that we now have are precisely 

what the sovereign people will.  They vote as they please,

elect such men to office as they choose to elect, and men who

unusally take good care to support such a policy as they be-

lieve will be most satisfactory to their constituents.  How

then can it be pretended, that the will of the people is not

freely and fully expressed? or that if there could be a freer

and fuller expression, it would vary the result?

     There can be no question, that the government is not ad-

ministered for the good of the great mass of the community;

no question that the many are taxed, directly or indirectly,

enormously for the exclusive benefit of the few; but whose

is the fault?  Bankers, capitalists, corporators, stock-jobbers, speculators, and trafficking politicians control the government, and in nearly all cases shape its policy.  By their

arts and intrigues they unquestionably succeed in giving pre-

dominance to their will over the will of the rest of their

fellow-citizens.  But they are a portion of the people, and

therefore a portion of the democracy.  They do not constitute a class apart from the democracy.  The late president

of the late United States Bank is as much one of the people

as the hod-carrier who aided in the construction of his mar-

ble palace.  In speaking of the people, the democracy, these

must be included, and their will be counted the will of the

people, as much as the will of any other portion of the com-

munity.  In estimating the course likely to be taken by the

people, we must take into account the liability of the

people to follow the advice and dictation of this portion of

their number, and the interest this portion has in misleading

them, and the means it possesses of misleading them.  The

whole people must be included in our estimate, and taken

as they are, and for precisely what they are.  Whatever the

result of an election in this country, it must always be taken

to be as free and as full an expression of the popular will

as democracy with us can collect.  The fact that this will

is, after all, in reality but the will of a small minority, alters

not the truth of this statement.  It simply proves that in a 

country like ours, under a purely democratic order, or under

an unlimited democracy, the will of the people that rules

will always be the will of the smaller number.  It shows,

then, not that we should render our institutions more democratic, but that it is not absolute democracy that we are

to seek the remedy of the evil complained of.  The will of

the people, which it is possible to collect can never be in

advance of the people themselves.  So long as the people

are what they now are, made up of the same materials, with

the same diversities of character, condition, and interest, no

other will of the people can exist, certainly no other can be

officially uttered, than that which now rules through the


     The democratic theory, now under consideration, requires

for its success a community, in which all citizens have

in all respects one and the same interest, and are all sub-

stantially equal in position, wealth, and influence.  Whether

such equality and such identity of interests be or be not at-

tainable, be or be not desirable, neither one nor the other is

attained here.  As men all are indeed equal, and so far

forth as men, they all have the same interests; but as mem-

bers of the community their conditions are diverse, their

callings are different, and their interests are often hostile

one to another.  Their interests, so far forth as men, are

not, as democracy demands, the interests which predomi-

nate.  These interests count for little or nothing with elec-

tors and legislators.  In elections and legislation the inter-

ests which predominate are never those which belong alike

to all men, but the special interests of classes, sections, or 

individuals.  Men are governed at the polls, and in the leg-

islative hall, by the same passions and interests which rule

them in the ordinary business of life.  No man, when he

acts as an elector, or as a legislator, divests himself, or can

divest himself, of these passions and interests.  They are

his life.  The planter votes and legislates for the planting

interest, the farmer for the policy that will advance the

price of wheat, the manufacturer for that which will pay

him a bounty on his wares, and the stock-jobber, or speculator, for a paper currency as best adapted to his gambling

propensities.  Each demands a policy most favorable to that

branch of business in which he is specially interested.  The

several special interests of the country go to the polls, each

pitted against the other, and the stronger triumphs, possesses

itself of the legislature, and wields the whole force of the 

government in its own favor.  This is inevitable in a democracy, where there are diversities of interest.  The stronger

interest, by whatever means it is the stronger, whether by

numbers, wealth, position, talent, learning, intrigue, fraud,

deception, corruption, always possesses itself of the government, and taxes all the other interests of the community

for its own especial benefit.

     This fact is not duly considered by our democratic theorists.  They tell us the voice of the people is the voice of

God; that what the people will is for the good of the whole;

but however this may be in some refined transcendental 

sense, in practice the will of the people is the will of that

interest in the community, which is able to command a majority, and the voice of the people is the voice of that inter-

est.  Political theories must be tested not by their abstract

beauty and excellence, but by their practical operations, the

people being taken just as they are.  In Fourth of July

orations, or in caucus speech, the noblest sentiments, the

purest and loftiest enthusiasm for justice and humanity, are

always received by the assembled mass with the heartiest

rounds of applause.  Appeals to patriotism and philanthropy will always make you most effective as an orator, or

as a writer; but patriotism and philanthropy, when carried

to the polls or into the legislative hall, are identified by

each man with the special protection by government of his

peculiar interest.  Patriotism and philanthropy with the

planter are in his cotton-bags, with the farmer in his wheat-

field, with the manufacturer in his spindle and loom, with

the banker in his notes, with the merchant in his ship or

counting-room.  What most benefits ME, is most patriotic

and for humanity.  No government will work well, that does

not recognize this fact, and which is not shaped to meet it,

and counteract its mischievous tendency.

     There is altogether too much fulsome flattery of the people, too much nonsense uttered about independent voters.

One-fourth of your independent voters will not take the

trouble to go to the polls, unless called out by more zealous

partisans; and the party which can make the most noise, and

has the most money to spend for electioneering purposes,

will always be able to call out the larger portion of them,

and usually enough to decide a closely contested election

vote always with the stronger party, and always do vote 

with that party which they believe has the greater likelihood of succeeding.  Of the reminder, not one in ten has

any clear conception of the questions at issue, or any toler-

able judgment of what will be the practical operation of one 

policy or another.

     With these facts staring us in the face, it seems idle to

seek a remedy for the evils complained of in a further ex-

tension of the democratic principle.  The form of our government is already as democratic as need be; and were it

made more so, it could only aggravate the disease, so long

as there is in the community the present inequality of conditions, or the present diversity of interests.  This remark

will of course be offensive to our demagogues and trading

politicians, whose stock in trade consists mainly in their

ability to scream democracy, DEMOCRACY, in our ears from

morning to night, and from year's end to year's end.  It

will deprive them of many of their present facilities, should

it gain credit with the people, and render it somewhat

doubtful whether this ability to scream democracy does in

reality of itself qualify a man for any and every office from

path-master to president of the United States.  But as this 

is a sacrifice demanded by the public good, perhaps these

pure patriots will consent to make it.

     In these remarks nothing is said against democracy, when

interpreted to mean, as many of our friends interpret it, a

government which is so constituted and administered, as to

maintain the natural liberty of the individual and to perform 

those social labors, surpassing the reach of the individual,

demanded by the common good of all.  But when democracy 

is so interpreted, the end of government is confounded with

its form,- an error into which we ourselves, we are sorry to

say, have on some occasions fallen.  That what it thus de-

clared to be democracy, is the end that government should

aim to realize, that which it should be so constituted and

administered as to realize, is unquestionably true.  But the

purely democratic form of government, that is, a form of 

government which recognizes the absolute sovereignty of

the people, and leave the ruling majority the unlimited

freedom to do whatever it pleases, will not secure this end,

as is abundantly proved by the considerations already al-

leged.  Democracy, when it is interpreted to mean the end

to be gained, is worthy of all acceptation; it is defective

only as a means.  It cannot as a form of government se-

cure the end proposed, because there are in the country a

diversity of conflicting interests, and the government must 

always take the direction of the stronger interest; which

with us has been heretofore, if not now, what may with 

sufficient accuracy be termed the interest of business capital.  The government, following the direction of this interest, can be for the common good only on condition that

the interest of all classes, sections, and individuals is identical with the interests of the small minority engaged in


     Nor is this all.  The interest which triumphs, and obtains for itself the fostering care of the government, is not

in reality promoted thereby.  The specially protected interests, in the long run, suffer in consequence of the very

protection they receive.  This is now admitted by the more

enlightened statesmen both at home and abroad.  All interests prosper best under that government which proceeds

on the maxim, "justice to all, favors to none."  In political economy, as well as individual, a departure from the

principles of common justice breeds confusion, hostility,

and brings with it a day of terrible retribution.  The laws of

God, whether for individuals, or for societies, are equal

and just, opposed to all favoritism, to all special privileges,

and in neither case are they ever transgressed with impunity.  But all interests are short-sighted.  The dram of

protection exhilarates to-day, and they think not that it will

debilitate to-morrow, and finally, if persisted in, destroy the


     The evils of government all proceed from its attempts to

protect or further special interests; that is, from not con-

fining itself to those matters, or to such lines of policy as

necessarily affect all interests and all individuals alike.  The

interests of a community are two-fold, those which are common to all its members, and those which are peculiar to

classes, or to individuals.  The first only are proper objects

of government.  True statesmanship consists in so constituting the government, that it can never, in its practical operations, obtain any power to act on any matters but these.

Government should be so constituted, as to operate for man,

not for his accidents.  It should legislate not for the merchant, the manufacturer, the farmer, the planter, the speculator, the banker, the laborer, but for the man.  The problem to be solved is, how to constitute and administer the

government so as to recognize always, and in all its practical bearings, the supremacy of the man.

     Aristocracy with us is not the solution of this problem,

because the aristocracy, whatever its basis, birth, wealth,

learning, or military service, will always administer the

government for the exclusive benefit of the aristocratic class.

Monarchy will not answer, because there every thing must

bend to the glory of the monarch.  Democracy will not an-

swer, because it concentrates all power in the hands of the 

ruling majority for the time, and that majority will always

consist, as has been shown, of the stronger interest in the com-

munity, and therefore of the interest that should be checked

rather than suffered to rule.  The common vice of all these

systems, as of all conceivable absolute governments, is in

their CENTRALISM.  All power is centered in the government, and the interest, class, or individual oppressed or neglected, has no effectual veto on its tyrannical acts.

     The great and difficult problem for the statesmen, but at

the same time his first and indispensable duty, is to provide

a veto on power.  No government can operate well, where

there is no power in the community to arrest it, peaceably

and effectually, whenever it runs athwart the interests or

the rights of the people at large, or of any portion of them.

The prosperity of Rome dates from the establishment of the

tribunitial power, which was a veto on the government;

and it continued till both the government and veto power

were absorbed in the emperor.  Then centralism triumphed.  All power was in the same hands, in one and the 

same body, and Rome declined and fell.  The merits of the 

old feudal system, now so universally repudiated, consisted

in the veto the great vassals had on the crown, and on each

other.  England is indebted, for the stability and beneficial

influence of her government, to the imperfect veto her

house of commons has, in granting or withholding supplies.

In Poland the veto power was carried too far, and proved

the ruin of the republic.  But always, in order to secure

good government, must there be somewhere in the state the

POSITIVE power called the government, and the NEGATIVE 

power, naturally and peaceably arresting the action of the

government, whenever it attempts to play the tyrant.

     These two powers must be lodged in different hands.  For

the veto power is nothing, if vested in the government it-

self.  It would then be only the government vetoing its

own acts.  It must be separated from the positive power,

and placed in other hands, as was the case at Rome.  The

patrician order governed, but the plebeians, through their

tribunes, could veto its acts.  The patricians, therefore,

while they constituted the governing power of the state,

could enact no laws, pursue no line of public policy, which

would not be so far acceptable to the plebeians as to escape

the trubunitial veto.  But if this veto power had been

lodged in some branch of the senate itself, or in a portion

of the ruling order, it would have been no veto at all; because the interest that must exercise it, if exercised at all,

would have been the very interest against which it must be


     It may be assumed, then, as an axiom in political science,

that in order to secure a wise and just administration of government, there must be a division of powers into positive

and negative, and the negative power must be placed in such

hands, as will have a direct interest in interposing it against

the encroachments of the positive, or governing power.

     Till quite recently nearly all American statesmen have

recognized the necessity of a veto power.  They have not,

however, always perceived the necessity of placing it in a 

distinct organization.  They have sought to obtain it by

various artificial divisions in the positive power itself, and

have trusted to the ruling interest to veto its own acts,-at

least to some considerable extent, and wholly where circumstances were not against them.  The necessity of a limitation on the exercise of power has been felt by all; but, except in the case of the federal government, they do not appear to have had any clear conceptions of the nature of the

limitations demanded, nor the effectual means of constituting it.  The methods they have for the most part relied

on, are frequency of elections, the division of the legislative

branch into two houses, the executive veto, and written con-

stitutions.  Frequency of elections is well, as far it goes,

but is by no means an effectual veto.  For it rarely happens 

that the veto is needed, when it must not be excercised against

the majority of the people themselves, as well as against a

majority of their representatives in the legislature.  The

new elections will then almost always return men pledged to the of the new house will need vetoing as much as those of the old.

     The division of the legislature into two houses answers a

good purpose, when, as in England, they are differently constituted, and really represent different interests, but in this

country, for the most part, the two houses represent the

same interest, and differ from each other only in the fact

that one is more numerous than the other, as is evinced by

the fact that the instances of disagreement between the

senate and the house are few, and comparatively trifling.

Both houses are usually of the same political complexion.

Nevertheless, this division, when the members of one house

are chosen for a longer term of service than those of the 

other, or when the local interests of the state are such, that

by making the members of one house more numerous than

those of the other, one may be made to represent different

interests from those represented by the other, answers a good

purpose, and to some extent secures the veto power demanded.

     The executive veto is inefficient, from the fact that it will

rarely be exercised.  The executive is in all cases chosen

by the people at large, or by the legislative branch of the 

government.  In most cases his term of office is the same,

or very nearly the same, with that of the members of the

legislature, and he must therefore agree with the ruling

majority in his politics; and will for the most part represent the same interests.  In general, then, the chances are

much greater that he will approve an improper exercise of

power on the part of the ruling majority than that he will

veto it.  In a few instances, the presidential veto has been 

exercised against the wishes of the political friends of the

president, but never when there was not good reason to believe that a majority of the people would sustain it.

     Written constitutions are indispensable in this country;

but mere written constitutions impose only a slight restriction on the power of the ruling majority.  If there be not 

a veto power behind them, in the very constitution of the 

commonwealth, able and interested in sustaining them, they

will be violated with impunity whenever the ruling majority

find them in their way.  In the estimation of those who

have the power, that is always constitutional which they

believe to be conducive to their own especial interests.  The

minority may protest, adduce the very letter of the constitution, but what avails it?  Power cares not for a few slopes,

curves, and angles, drawn on parchment.  It cares not on 

what rights or interests it tramples.  It goes straight to its

object, from which nothing can avert it, but an antagonistic

power, which effectually resists it.  Experience abundantly

proves this.  Nothing is more evident than the unconstitutionality of a United States bank, and yet there has been

scarcely a congress from the origin of the federal government not ready to charter one; the constitution authorizes

no tariff for protection, as the advocates of the protective

policy admit, by the fact that they never dare bring in a

bill for protection that declares on its title its purpose, and

yet the protective policy has been able to command large

majorities in congress and among the people.  No law can

be more right in face and eyes of the constitution than that

of the extra session of congress last summer, distributing

the proceeds of the public lands among the states, and yet

it found a majority in both houses of congress in its favor,

and received the executive sanction.  These and numerous

other instances show that written constitutions are as mere

waste paper when in the way of ruling majorities.

     There is a mistake in regard to constitutions, somewhat

prevalent, fraught with much mischief.  It is supposed to 

be the easiest thing in the world to frame a constitution, and

therefore to secure the wise and just administration of government. Let the people assemble by their delegates in

convention, debate for three or four months, and then draw

up and instrument, which, when ratified by the people in 

their primary assemblies, shall be a constitution, the fundamental law of the land.  All this is well enough.  But what

makes this instrument a constitution, a fundamental law?

Does the convention merely draw up and instrument? or

does it give a constitution to the body politic? The common opinion seems to be, that it merely draws up an instrument with a certain number of articles and sections, and declares that that shall be the law, according to which the

government shall be administered or power exercised.  But 

where is the guaranty that power will be so exercised, that

the sovereign authority will not transgress its provisions?

The common reply will be, that the people who make the

constitution will see that it be not violated.  This is the


     Constitutions are intended to be a restriction on power,

and are needed because power has a perpetual tendency to

exceed wholesome limits.  But, with us, power is the

people.  The people here are the sovereign authority.  Constitutions are needed, then, to be a check on the people, a limit to their power, in order to save us from the calamities of absolute government.  To form a constitution and entrust its preservation to the people is, then, a manifest absurdity; for then the very power is relied on to protect the constitution from violation, which the constitution is created to

restrict, and from which alone the violation of the constitution is to be apprehended.  It is like locking up the culprit

in prison, and entrusting him with the keys.  To say that

the people will voluntarily, of their own accord, sustain a

constitution that restricts their sovereign power, is only say-

ing that they will voluntarily, of their own accord, forbear

to exercise that portion of their power so restricted.  What,

then, is the use of the constitution?  If affords no additional

security; but leaves us right where we should be, in case

we had no constitution at all.  We have with the constitution nothing but the discretion or pleasure of the sovereign

on which to rely, and we should have that without the constitution.  In this view of the case, constitutions are a great


     Let not these remarks be misinterpreted.  Nothing is in-

tended against the constitutional governments; but the reverse.

Constitutional governments are the only governments which

really secure the freedom of the subject or citizen.  But,

then, they must be constitutional governments.  The constitution must be something more than the roll of parchment,

with its slopes, angles, and curves.  To make the constitution is not to draw up the written instrument, but to organize the body politic, to constitute it several powers; and if

we really intend it to be a constitution, so to organize the

state as to have always a negative power capable of arresting the positive power; whenever it is disposed to exceed

the bounds prescribed to it.  The constitution, then, must

virtually consist in the manner in which is different interests, classes, sections, or natural divisions of the community

are organized in relation to the government. The great 

point to be kept always steadily in view, is the constitution

of the veto of power. The positive power can always take 

care of itself. There is rarely any danger that it will not 

be able to do all the good that the community requires.

The danger is that it will absorb too much into itself, and 

become tyrannical and oppressive. Almost the sole art in 

constituting the government consists in devising an effective

veto, one that shall operate naturally, peaceably, when, and 

one when, it is required. 

The constitution of the veto is by no means an easy 

problem, now will it admit of an arbitrary solution. It must

have its reasons and origin in the previous divisions, habits,

conditions, or institutions of the country. In some countries

it is almost, if not quite, impossible to constitute a veto

power; in others it already exists, if statesmen but knew 

how to avail themselves of it. In one sense it is always the

people that possesses and exercises the veto; but not the

people as a whole, constituting one simple body, but the 

people taken in parts. The whole people, through the

majority, are the positive power, the governing power; the 

negative power must be sought in the parts, and secured by 

so constituting or organizing the parts, that each part, when 

an oppressive measure is attempted, may have an effectual

veto on the action of the majority, or positive power. But 

where these parts do not already exist, or where the population of a country, or its natural or geographical character,

the productions of the soil, or the pursuits of the people, do 

not permit the organization of the community into distinct 

parts, the constitution of a veto power is nearly or quite 

impossible; and such countries seem doomed to all the horrors of eternal despotism. Liberty is not for them, except 

as it comes from aboard and through conquest. Conquest 

by foreign mad introduce upon the soil a new race, 

which by virtue of its previous habits, institutions, divisions, 

coexisting with those of the conquered race, shall furnish

them the necessary elements, and pave the way for the 

eventual establishment of effectual veto power, and thus

save them from despotism, and bring them into the family 

of the free. This is the process by which western Europe

was redeemed from the despotism into which imperial Rome

had degenerated. Modern Europe owes its freedom, saving 

the moral influences of the church, to the conquests of the 

northern barbarians. England owes hers to the Norman 

conquest. The barbarians, by their military divisions and

possessions of the land, furnished the feudal lords; the conquered population, by being forced into industrial pursuits,

gradually emerged into communes, commons, and third-

estates. The superiority of the English commons over the 

corresponding class in continental Europe is owing to the 

fact. that their ranks were recruited by the old Saxon 

nobility and gentry, dispossessed of thier former rank and 

estates by the followers of the conqueror. In western 

Europe and in England, conquest supplied the elements out 

of which free government could be ultimately constructed,

by instituting such divisions as could be made available in 

time for the constitution of a veto on the sovereign power. 

In this country we have been favored by Providence.

Here the constitution of the veto power is more natural and 

easy then anywhere else; and our statesmen have not 

entirely overlooked it, though they have not made as much 

of the opportunities afforded them, as they might, or should

have done. Two parties existed at the origin of our govern-

ment, both honest no doubt, but each tending to push the 

other to extremes, and both conspiring to give to govern-

ment a false direction. Both really desired to obtain a veto 

power, but neither understood precisely how it should be 

constituted; neither in fact took the right course to obtain 

it. The jealousy was rather of the power of classes than of 

the power of the sovereign. One party wished to place a 

veto on the power of what it called the mob; the other, on

the power of what it termed the aristocracy. The first 

sought its end by laboring to lodge the sovereign power 

exclusively in the hands of the well-born, the gentlemen, 

and the holders of property. This would undoubtedly have

been an effectual veto on the power of the poorer classes, but 

none on the power of the government. The positive power 

of the state would still have been unlimited, and in the hands,

too, even more liable to abuse it, than would have been the 

poorer classes it was proposed to exclude. The government,

if unlimited, is safer in the hands of the simple-men, than

in the hands of the gentlemen; and the democracy, to use

the term in its old sense, may be more safely trusted than 

the aristocrat.

The other party sought to place a check upon the aristocracy, the gentlemen, and men of property, by rendering 

suffrage universal. They were right, as far as they went. 

But their system could not be effectual; for, in the first

place, it imposed no check on the sovereign power itself,

which was the main point; and none in fact on the aristocracy, because the gentlemen, the men of birth, education,

manners, and property, could always be the most influential,

and thus control the elections and the government. In 

point of fact, this second policy has furthered the aims of 

the first; and the old party which called "democracy an 

illuminated hell," finds now that it is through democracy it 

can most effectually secure the triumph of the aristocracy.

Hence it claims to be the democratic party of the country.

The struggle between these two parties has engrossed 

almost wholly the attention of our statesmen, and prevented 

them from considering, so expressly as they should have

done, the all-essential point of constituting the veto power, 

where it would amount to something. The government,

whether lodged in the hands of the gentlemen or the simple-

men, will be tyrannical and oppressive, if the oppressed

party have no effectual means of resistance except that of 

rebellion, which would end, even if successful, as it does in 

the Asiatic nations, only in displacing one tyranny, and substituting another equally bad. Nevertheless, the veto has

not been altogether overlooked. In the constitution of the

federal government we have it in as perfect a form as can 

be desired. Providence prepared the way for it, by so ordering it that the country should be settled by distinct colonies,

independent one of another, which at the revolution could 

become free and independent states. By the union of those

states into a single body politic, for certain specific purposes,

we obtain the two powers needed. The American people,

acting through the federal government, as one people, constitute the positive of governing power; the states, each in

its separate, independent capacity, constitute the negative or 

veto power. The positive power is that of majority.

The majority of the American people govern through congress. This is right. This is the only possible rule that

can be adopted; and the maxim so common among our politicians, the majority must govern, is accepted. But the 

majority, according to the constitution, is not absolute. It 

has a right to govern only within certain limits. Whenever 

it transcends, in its acts, those limits, its acts are unconstitutional, and therefore null and void from the beginning.

When it so transcends, there is, by means of state organization, a veto power to arrest it. By this the constitution of 

the Union is rendered a real constitution-a constitution of 

the people, and not a mere roll of parchment. There is a 

power behind the written constitution, different from the 

authorities created under it, capable of compelling its

observance. A state is to the union what the tribune was 

to the Roman senate. When the Union enacts a law which

transcends the constitution, and every law does transcend

the constitution, that bears unequally on the different states,

the state can interpose its veto and arrest its action. The 

veto sought by means of universal suffrage, that is to say, 

the veto of the individual citizen, is too feeble to amount to 

anything; but the veto of a state will always be as effectual

as was the Roman tribune.

This veto power is no artificial creation, but is inherent

in the constitution of American society. No objection can 

be brought against its exercise. It can never be exercised 

except against an unjust and unconstitutional law. A state 

will interpose its veto only against such a law as bears with 

peculiar hardship upon itself, which oppresses it for the 

benefit of some one or more of the other state. No state 

will complain of a law from which it does not suffer, or re-

fuse to submit to a law from which it suffers no more than

its sister states. A law affecting all the states alike, and 

so burdensome as to demand the interposition of the state 

veto, would be so odious to them all, that its repeal, with-

out a resort to the veto power, could be easily effected.

The laws of human action forbid us to fear an inerposition

of the veto without just cause. The Roman tribunes, it 

does not appear, even interposed thier veto except when 

the senate proposed a law which threatened to be peculiarly 

oppressive to the plebeians; and the English house of commons has never interposed its veto, that is, withheld the

supplies, except in the last resort, as the only means left of 

forcing the government to a redress of grievances, or the 

abandonment of an oppressive policy. It may be assumed

as an axiom, that a state will never interpose its veto, except

when the acts of general government are peculiarly oppressive to its citizens, ruining their interests, for the pro-

motion of those of the other states. Now, all such acts are,

from their very nature, unconstitutional. The federal

government has no right to impose, directly or indirectly,

any heavier burdens on one state than on another. Its 

taxes must be laid equally upon all, according to a uniform 

census; and its measures, to be constitutional, must be for

the uniform benefit of all the states. The measures then 

which a state would veto, would be always unconstitutional

measures, and therefore null and void from the beginning.

The veto would then always be interposed to saved the con-

stitution, never to destroy it.

The state veto will always be effectual. One of three

things must inevitably follow its interposition. The government must reduce the vetoing state by force; obtain

a new grant of power; or yield to a compromise. The

first is out of the question. There will always be one or

more states to sympathize with the vetoing state, that will

not consent to the employment of force against it; and individual volunteers from all the states, from various motives,

will always rush to its support; so that no trifling force 

will be requisite to subdue it. The state in favor of the 

policy vetoed, strongly desirous as they may be of carrying

in into effect, will pause before resolving to do it at the expense of a protracted and bloody civil war, and will rather

choose to abandon the policy, than sustain it at such cost.

The second alternative will rarely, if ever, occur. A glance 

at the geographical character of the country will show us

that a policy bearing so hard on any one state as to induce 

it to resort to its veto, will always be opposed by more than

one-fourth of the states; a power to carry the measure into 

effect can never be obtained, if one-fourth of the states

join the voting state. Nothing remains, then, but the last

alternative. The government must yield to a compromise

of the difficulty; and consent to abandon, as soon as may

be, the obnoxious policy. The state veto will, then, always 

be an effectual, peaceable, and orderly remedy. The knowledge of its existence, and the certainly that it will be inter-

posed when occasion demands, will operate as a salutary 

check upon the government, and serve to keep it so uniformly within constitutional limits; that a resort to the 

veto will rarely, if ever, become necessary. 

This veto power, which Providence, and not man, seems 

to have constituted for us, has in most cases been overlooked, 

or undervalued by our statesmen. This is bad. For though

it is impossible to constitute an effectual veto power, 

where it does not exist it is an easy thing, through a false 

political theory, to abolish it, when provided. The veto 

power has not done us all the service it might, in consequence of the centralizing doctrines which have prevailed;

and because the attention of our statesmen has been turned 

in other directions. Let the true theory of our constitution

once be brought out, and understood by the people of the 

several states, and the veto power will be saved, and be 

found capable at all times of saving the constitution. With 

this power fairly recognized as in integral element in the 

constitution of American society, the American government 

must appear to all competent judges, as a miracle of wisdom, 

and adapted to any conceivable extent of territory, and fitted 

to endure for ever. It combines all the excellencies of the 

Roman and English governments; nay, of all preceding

governments, without any of their defects. It is the most

wonderful creation of political science the world has ever 

beheld; the resume, if one may so speak, of all the past

political labors of the race, the latest and noblest birth of 

time. Nothing is wanting to it, but to be comprehended,

accepted, and administered in its true spirit. 

In regard to our state governments, we have been less

successful in constituting the veto power; and what is worst

of all, we have made no progress in obtaining it. On the 

one hand, there has prevailed the certralism of the aristocracy; that is, of such an aristocracy as the country has been

able to produce or import, not very respectable, and hardly

deserving to be called an aristocracy; and on the other hand,

we have had the centralism of democracy. The tendency

has been, however, steadily in favor of the democratic centralism, which is the better tendency of the two. Every

new revision of the constitution has tended to bring our

governments nearer and nearer to the character of pure 

democracies. This has been effected by the gradual elevation of the laboring classes, but more especially from the

disposition of demagogues and political aspirants to court 

the multitude; and from the fact, already mentioned, that

the party, formerly in favor of giving the government an

aristocratic cast, have discovered that they can obtain all

by means of democracy, they hoped from aristocracy, and 

without incurring the odium of being opposed to the democracy. This party, made up at present, for the most part, of

the money-changes, who now, as of old, turn God's temple

into a den of thieves, are so pleased with democracy, and 

find that they can so easily secure the preponderating influences in elections and in the legislative hall, that they have 

no wish to return to the high-toned doctrines of the old 

Federal party; but would resist such a return with as much 

firmness as any portion of our countrymen. Both parties, 

under this point of view, have come on to the same ground;

and are viewing with each other, which shall be the most 

democratic. Both parties combine their influences to establish democratic certralism; this is, to render the government an unlimited democracy; the one party, because it 

knows it can always use the democracy in furtherance of 

the views of the aristocracy; and the other, because it hopes

to secure thereby a preponderating influence to the poorer

and more numerous classes. Between them both it will go 

hard, but CENTRALISM, which is but another name for ABSO-

LUTISM, shall triumph, and freedom and good government

be indefinitely postponed. This is now the predominating

tendency, which every statesmen, every patriot, and every 

philanthropist must struggle to arrest, before it shall be too 


     But the constitution of the veto power, within the states

themselves, even if these dangerous centralizing doctrines of

our politicians were abandoned, and the attention of all

turned towards it, would be exceedingly difficult, and all but

impossible.  In the Union, it is, as has been seen, comparatively easy.  The Union spreads over a vast extent of territory, with many varieties of climate, soil, and productions,

which create distinct, sectional interests, embracing entire

states, and therefore capable of being organized, each into a 

veto power on the other.  This indicates the importance

of an extended territory; and shows us that our federal sys-

tem must work the better in proportion as the field of its

operations becomes extended and varied.  Were it to extend

over the whole continent of North America, as it one day

must, if continued, it would be altogether more beneficial in

its operations, and stronger and more likely to be permanent

than now.  These sectional interests, from the mutual hostility of which, so much evil is apprehended by narrow-

minded and short-sighted politicians, are the very life and

support of the system.  If the Union were not extensive

and varied enough to create them, the horizontal division of

parties would universally obtain, by which the whole power

of the government, with no effective veto, would be thrown

into the hands of the upper classes, who would invariably

make it an instrument for oppressing yet more the poorer

and more numerous classes.  Of all possible divisions of

parties, this horizontal division is the worst, the most dangerous, and the one against which we should labor the most

strenuously to guard; for, where it occurs, the lower strata

must bear the whole weight of the upper.  But with the

great extent of territory, and diversity of interests, presented by the Union, parties will divide geographically, and

consequently so that each party may have within its ranks

a proportional share of the wealth of the community; and

will be so constituted, that the interest represented by one

party can be organized into an effective veto on the preponderance of that represented by another.  Where there are

so many interests, each embodying the force of an entire

state, the federal government must be held in check.  No

one interest will consent to be sacrificed to another.  Each,

then, will struggle to prevent the government from granting

any special protection to another; and the result must be,

that the government will, as it should, abandon the policy

of specially protecting any interest, and confine itself to the

common good of all.  When government is so confined, it

operates always wisely, justly, in favor of freedom and national prosperity.

     But when we come within the bosom of the states them-

selves, the whole aspect is changed.  In the Union, it suffices to give one sectional interest, by means of state organization, a veto on another; but in the state itself it is not

against the preponderating influence of one sectional or geo-

graphical interest over another, that it is necessary to guard.

The territory is, in general, too small, and the interests of 

all parts of the state are too much the same, for these sec-

tional interests to become much importance.  Parties is

the bosom of the state rarely, if ever, divide geographically,

but almost uniformly, especially in the non-slave-holding

states, horizontally.  Parties are classes, with merely individual exceptions.  Take the two parties which now exist,

and one will be found to embrace much the larger portion

of the wealth of the community, nearly all the active business capital of the country, while the other is made up of

small farmers, journeyman mechanics, and common laborers.

At least, this is eminently so in the New England states;

and it is becoming more and more so in the middle and

western states, in proportion as the effort is made to render

government more just and equitable in its operations.  This

is a serious fact, and one from which the saddest consequences are to be apprehended.  With this division of par-

ties, as has already been said, power is all on one side.  The

poorer and more numerous classes are no match for the

wealthy and more influential minority.  Universal suffrage

serves but to delude them.  For wealth can command votes,

if not always at the polls, at least in the legislative hall.

The United States Bank, when it represented the money

power, though unable to prevent the reelection of General

Jackson, never failed to have a majority in both houses of

congress.  The upper classes can always triumph, when they

think it worth their while to make the effort.  Let them

once bring the weight of their personal characters, their influence as employers and creditors, to bear, as they always

will when there is any thing important enough at stake, and

the poorer and more numerous classes, with justice, patriot-

ism, and intelligence on their side, are before them but as

the chaff of the summer threshing-floor before the wind.

They sweep over the country in one wild destructive tornado, as they did in 1840.  There are no arts too base for 

them to adopt, no oppressions too gross for them to practice, no corruption and bribery, no fraud and misrepresentation, too barefaced for them to countenance, in order to

secure their triumph.  Having the wealth of the country,

they can easily command all that is base and profligate in

the community, and be sure of the services of every Iscariot

that will betray the sacred cause of freedom and justice for

"thirty pieces of silver."  Even men, who have generally 

the reputation of being high-minded and honorable men,

from whom better things might be expected, will consent

to quaff "hard cider," or play the buffoon, in order to cheat

the simple and unsuspecting out of their rights.  The election of 1840 reads to the statesman and patriot an instructive lesson.  A reaction has indeed taken place for the moment, for there is at present no call for similar exertions;

but it will go hard, but similar or worse scenes will be re-

enacted whenever the upper classes feel again that power is

slipping from their grasp, and that it is necessary to rally

to prevent the government from being restricted to its constitutional duties.

     The evil to be guarded against in the states, especially

the non-slave-holding states, is this tendency to a horizontal

division of parties.  With this division, it may be taken for

granted, that power will be always virtually, if not nom-

inally, in the hands of the upper strata of society; and the

poorer and more numerous classes must be governed for the

benefit of the wealthy and more influential minority.  The 

only possible remedy is in the constitution of some veto

power, which shall arrest the government, whenever it at-

tempts to act on matters not common to all classes, or to

pass laws not for the common good of all.  This is the kind

of veto needed in the states; a veto operating naturally and

effectually to prevent the wealthier and more influential

classes from pursuing any line of policy bearing with peculiar hardship on the poorer and more numerous classes.

The constitution of such a veto power is the problem, and,

it need not to be disguised, that it is a problem of most difficult solution.

     It was partly in consequence of observing this tendency,

in all small communities, to divide horizontally, and perceiving that in such a division power was, and must be, on

the side of the upper stratum, that we were induced, some

time since, to suggest the bold and energetic measure of

changing the law, by which property now descends from

one generation to another.  We saw no way of preventing

this horizontal division, but by rendering each member of

the community an independent proprietor.  The substantial

equalization of property, could it be effected without violence, by the gradual and natural operation of a just and

uniform law, we felt would abolish the distinction of classes,

and give to each man his proportional share of influence.

All being proprietors, and virtually possessing in themselves

the means of subsistence, without depending on wealthy

capitalists, the interests of all, so far as government is concerned, would become so nearly the same, that no one would

have an interest in obtaining, or be able to obtain, any law

not bearing equally on all the members of the community.

We still see no effectual measure of curing entirely the evil

complained of, short of the one we proposed,-a measure

which has been received with almost one universal shriek of

horror.  We still insist that the measure we suggested is

deserving the serious consideration of our statesmen.  Nevertheless, we have, as we had when we suggested it, no hope of its adoption.  It therefore enters for nothing in our plan of organizing the state, or administering the government.

The practical statesman, however he may theorize in his

closet, never, when he goes forth to act, wastes his strength

in vain efforts to effect what he knows, in the circumstances

in which he is places, to be an impracticability.  When he

cannot adopt the means he believes would be most effectual,

he consents to adopt the best within his reach.  However

beneficial might be the proposed change in the statue of

distributions, the class of society that would oppose it, have

now the power, and it would be impossible to dispossess

them without the aid of the change itself; and perhaps,

were we able to obtain for the poorer and more numerous

classes power enough to effect the change, we could, with-

out much harm, dispense with effecting it.  That change,

if it ever comes, and come one day it must, will be effected,

not by the direct action of the civil government in assuming the initiative, but through moral and religious influences,

creating a higher order of civilization, and involving a new 

and different organization of the race;- an organization

resting for its foundation, not on wealth, nor military force,

nor the accident of birth, but on CAPACITY.  The day for

that organization is far distant.  The new church will per-

haps usher it in, or usher in something better.  In the mean

time government must be organized with such materials as

we have at hand, and do the best it can with the race as

they are, and as they gradually become.  With all we can

do, the wail of sorrow, from the heart of the true man,

over the sad doom of the poorer and more numerous classes,

must yet longer be heard.  Their friends are few and with-

out influence; or, if they have influence, they lose it the

moment they attempt to befriend them.

     Nevertheless, that were a detestable philosophy that left

us nothing but to wail over incurable evils.  Shame on the

statesman, on the philanthropist, that can do nothing but

sigh and weep!  Something can be done.  He blasphemes

God, who utterly despairs.  The division, into towns, or

small communities, as in our New England states, though it

in some measure favors the horizontal division, is not with-

out its beneficial effects.  It serves many valuable municipal

purposes; and by creating a large number of small offices,

and bringing the people frequently together for town

affairs, in which almost every citizen takes part, has a happy

effect in cultivating the intelligence and independent spirit

of the people.  The division of the state into small districts

for the choice of one branch of the legislature, and into

larger, for the choice of the other, and giving to the members of the separate branches a different term of service, are

not without use, and in some of the states answer an important purpose.

     But for the present our main reliance must be on the

federal government.  The legislation which operates the

most to the disadvantage of the poorer and more numerous

classes is that which concerns currency and finance.  The 

state legislation on currency and finance is determined almost

solely by the general policy of the federal government.

Abstract the laws relative to the banking and credit system,

together with the protective policy, and not much legislation would be left specially injurious to the poorer and

more numerous classes.  The paper system, which has

proved so ruinous to the country, will not long survive in

the states its abandonment by the general government.  The 

protective policy, which taxes the southern planter and

northern laborer for the especial benefit of the capital

invested in manufactures, depends entirely on the federal

government, which will not be permitted to continue it.

With these two systems will fall most of the measures, bear-

ing with oppressive weight on the poorer classes.  The 

laborer will be lightened of his burdens; he will retain in

his own hands a larger portion of the proceeds of his

labor; and gradually emerge from his unfriendly condition

to one in which he will have more independence, and consequently more weight in the affairs of his town, and more

power to protect himself in the state.  In the meantime,

improvements will continue to be made in the science of

legislation.  The state most favorably circumstanced will

take the lead.  Its example will influence other states; and

gradually, by being on the alert, by availing ourselves of

every favorable opportunity, we may hope the state governments will ultimately come to be as wisely constituted for

their internal purposes, as the federal government now is

for its sphere of action.

     We have gone, thus elaborately, into this subject of constitutional government, because it is important in itself, and

one almost generally neglected by our politicians, and also,

because we have wished to give our own views, which have

in some instances been misapprehended by our political

friends, more fully and at greater length than we have heretofore done.  From the fact, that we have objected to an

unlimited democracy, we have been supposed to be

unfriendly to democratic governments.  But we contend

earnestly for the popular form of government; we only

object to an unlimited government, whatever its form.  We 

are in favor of limiting the sovereign power, wherever that

power be lodged; that is, we demand CONSTITUTIONAL GOV-

ERNMENT; and constitutional government exists for us as a

mere name, unless there be in the organization of society a

power which can effectually preserve the constitution, when

ever the government is disposed to violate it.  This power

we call the negative or veto power of the state.  The con-

stitution of this power we hold to be the main problem in

the organization of government and we are unable to con-

ceive of any safeguard for the liberty of minorities or of

individuals without it.  This is the extent of our anti-

democracy.  For this we have called aloud, for its importance seems to us hardly suspected by the mass of the people,

and overlooked by the majority of leading politicians,-we

were about to say, of all parties.  But we will not say so.

The Republican party, the old state rights party if '98, are

beginning to see its importance more clearly than hereto-

fore, and promise, unless we greatly misread the signs of

the times, to come into power and place in 1844, on true

constitutional ground.  The trafficking politicians and

"spoilsmen," of which that party, as well as others, has its

share, will of course reject the doctrines we have set forth,

as they ever do all doctrines which go to secure a wise and

just administration of government.  All this portion of

the Republican or any other party want, is the power to

plunder the people, to reward themselves and partisans for 

their patriotic services.  But we trust their counsels will

not prevail, that the sound portion of the party will for

once count for something, and succeed in placing the gov-

ernment on the constitutional track.  If so, the doctrines

we have humbly ser forth will come into power, and with

them the country will be safe; and the experiment of the 

American people to establish a wise and just government,

operating always naturally and without violence, in favor

of individual liberty and the common good, will not prove a

sp;endid failure. At any rate, if this very imperfect essay

tend to awaken the attention of the people, and turn it to 

the paramount importance of CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT, 

our purpose will have been accomplished.