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to that of the other. The Legislature is one great machine of government, not two machines; the two Houses are its parts, and its utility will, as it seems to me, depend not merely on the materials of these parts, or their separate construction, but on their accommodation, also, and adaption to each other. Their balanced and regulated movement, when united, is that which is expected to insure safety to the state; and who can give any opinion on this, without first seeing the construction of both, and considering how they are formed and arranged with respect to their mutual relation.-I cannot imagine, therefore, how the member from Worcester should think it uncandid to inquire of him, since he supports this mode of choosing senators, what mode he proposes for the choice of representatives.
It has been said that the constitution, as it now stands, gives more than an equal and proper number of senators to the county of Suffolk. I hope I may be thought to contend for the general principle, without being influenced by any regard to its local application. I do not inquire whether the senators, whom this principle brings into the government, will come from the county of Suffolk, or from the Housatonic river, or the extremity of Cape Cod. I wish to look only to the principle; and as I believe that to be sound and salutary, I give my vote in favor of maintaining it.
In my opinion, sir, there are two questions before the committee. The first is, shall the legislative department be constructed with any other check than such as arises simply from dividing the members of this department into two houses? The second is, if such other and further check ought to exist, in what manner shall it be created?
If the two houses are to be chosen in the manner proposed by the resolutions of the member from Roxbury, there is obviously_no other check or control than a division into separate chambers. The members of both houses are to be chosen at the same time, by the same electors, in the same districts, and for the same term of office. They will of course all be actuated by the same feelings and interests. Whatever motives may at the moment exist to elect particular members of one house, will operate, equally, on the choice of members of the other. There is so little of real utility in this mode, that, if nothing more be done, it would be more expedient to choose all the members of the legislature, without distinction, simply as members of the legislature, and to make the division into two houses, either by lot, or otherwise, after these members thus chosen should have come up to the capital.
I understand the reason of checks and balances, in the legislative power, to arise from the truth, that, in representative governments that department is the leading and predominating power; and if its will may be at any time suddenly and hastily expressed, there is great danger that it may overthrow all other powers.-Legislative bodies naturally feel strong, because they are numerous, and because they consider themselves as the immediate representatives of the people. They depend on public opinion to sustain their measures, and they undoubtedly possess great means of influencing public opinion. With all the guards which can be raised by constitutional provisions, we are not likely to be too well secured against
cases of improper, or hasty, or intemperate legislation. It may be observed, also, that the executive power, so uniformly the object of jealousy to republics, has become, in the states of this union, deprived of the greatest part both of its importance and its splendor, by the establishment of the general government. While the states possessed the power of making war and peace, and maintained military forces, by their own authority, the power of the state executives was very considerable, and respectable. It might then even be an object, in some cases, of a just and warrantable jealousy. But a great change has been wrought. The care of foreign relations, the maintenance of armies and navies, and their command and control, have devolved on another government. Even the power of appointment, so exclusively, one would think, an executive power, is, in very many of the states, held or controlled by the legislature; that department either making the principal appointments, itself, or else surrounding the chief executive magistrate with a council, of its own election, possessing a negative upon his nominations.
Nor has it been found easy, nor in all cases possible, to preserve the judicial department from the progress of legislative encroachment. Indeed, in some of the states, all judges are appointed by the legislature; in others, although appointed by the executive, they are removable at the pleasure of the legislature. In all, the provision for their maintenance is necessarily to be made by the legislature. As if Montesquieu had never demonstrated the necessity of separating the departments of governments; as if Mr. Adams had not done the same thing, with equal ability, and more clearness, in his defence of the American constitution; as if the sentiments of Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Madison, were already forgotten: we see, all around us, a tendency to extend the legislative power over the proper sphere of the other departments. And as the legislature, from the very nature of things, is the most powerful department, it becomes necessary to provide, in the mode of forming it, some check, which shall insure deliberation, and caution, in its measures. If all legislative power rested in one house, it is very problematical, whether any proper independence could be given, either to the executive or the judiciary. Experience does not speak encouragingly, on that point. If we look through the several constitutions of the states, we shall perceive that generally the departments are most distinct, and independent, where the legislature is composed of two houses, with equal authority, and mutual checks. If all legislative power be in one popular body, all other power, sooner or later, will be there also.
I wish, now, sir, to correct a most important mistake in the manner in which this question has been stated. It has been said, that we propose to give to property, merely as such, a control over the people, numerically considered. But this I take not to be at all the true nature of the proposition. The Senate is not to be a check on the people, but on the House of Representatives. It is the case of an authority, given to one agent, to check or control the acts of another. The people, having conferred on the House of Representatives powers which are great, and, from their nature, liable to abuse, require, for their own security, another house, which shall possess an
effectual negative on the first. This does not limit the power of the people; but only the authority of their agents. It is not a restraint on their rights, but a restraint on that power which they have delegated. It limits the authority of agents, in making laws to bind their principals. And if it be wise to give one agent the power of checking or controlling another, it is equally wise, most manifestly, that there should be some difference of character, sentiment, feeling, or origin, in that agent who is to possess this control. Otherwise, it is not at all probable that the control will ever be exercised. To require the consent of two agents to the validity of an act, and yet to appoint agents so similar, in all respects, as to create a moral certainty that what one does the other will do also, would be inconsistent, and nugatory. There can be no effectual control, without some difference of origin, or character, or interest, or feeling, or sentiment. And the great question in this country has been, where to find, or how to create this difference, in governments entirely elective and popular? Various modes have been attempted, in various states. In some, a difference of qualification has been required, in the persons to be elected. This obviously produces little or no effect. All property qualification, even the highest, is so low as to produce no exclusion, to any extent, in any of the states. A difference of age, in the persons elected, is sometimes required; but this is found to be equally unimportant. It has not happened, neither, that any consideration of the relative rank of the members of the two houses, has had much effect on the character of their constituent members. Both in the state governments, and in the United States government, we daily see persons elected into the House of Representatives who have been members of the Senate. Public opinion does not attach so much weight and importance to the distinction, as to lead individuals greatly to regard it. In some of the states, a different sort of qualification in the electors, is required, for the two houses; and this is probably the most proper and efficient check. But such has not been the provision in this commonwealth, and there are strong objections to introducing it. In other cases, again, there is a double election for senators; electors being first chosen, who elect senators. Such is the constitution of Maryland, in which the senators are elected for five years, by electors appointed in equal numbers by the counties; a mode of election not unlike that of choosing representatives in Parliament for the boroughs of Scotland. In this state, the qualification of the voters is the same, and there is no essential difference in that of the persons chosen.-But, in apportioning the senate to the different districts of the state, the present constitution assigns to each district a number proportioned to its public taxes. Whether this be the best mode of producing a difference in the construction of the two houses, is not now the question; but the question is, whether this be better than no mode.
The gentleman from Roxbury called for authority on this subject. He asked, what writer of reputation had approved the principle for which we contend. I should hope, sir, that even if this call could not be answered, it would not necessarily follow, that the principle should be expunged. Governments are instituted for practical ben
efit, not for subjects of speculative reasoning, merely. The best authority, for the support of a particular principle or provision in government, is experience; and, of all experience, our own, if it have been long enough to give the principle a fair trial, should be most decisive. This provision has existed for forty years, and while so many gentlemen contend that it is wrong in theory, no one has shown that it has been either injurious or inconvenient in practice. No one pretends, that it has caused a bad law to be enacted, or a good one to be rejected. To call on us, then, to strike out this provision, because we should be able to find no authority for it in any book on government, would seem to be like requiring a mechanic to abandon the use of an implement, which had always answered all the purposes designed by it, because he could find no model of it in the patent office.
But, sir, I take the principle to be well established, by writers of the greatest authority. In the first place, those who have treated of natural law, have maintained, as a principle of that law, that as far as the object of society is the protection of something in which the members possess unequal shares, it is just, that the weight of each person in the common councils should bear a relation and proportion to his interest. Such is the sentiment of Grotius, and he refers, in support of it, to several institutions among the ancient states.
Those authors who have written more particularly on the subject of political institutions, have, many of them, maintained similar sentiments. Not, indeed, that every man's power should be in exact proportion to his property, but that, in a general sense, and in a general form, property, as such, should have its weight and influence in political arrangement. Montesquieu speaks with approbation of the early Roman regulation, made by Servius Tullius, by which the people were distributed into classes, according to their property, and the public burdens apportioned to each individual according to the degree of power which he possessed in the government. By which regulation, he observes, some bore with the greatness of their tax because of their proportionable participation in power and credit; others consoled themselves for the smallness of their power and credit, by the smallness of their tax. One of the most ingenious of political writers, is Mr. Harrington; an author not now read so much as he deserves. It is his leading object, in his Oceana, to prove, that power naturally and necessarily follows property.-He maintains that a government, founded on property, is legitimately founded; and that a government founded on the disregard of property, is founded in injustice, and can only be maintained by military force. "If one man," says he, "be sole landlord, like the grand signior, his empire is absolute. If a few possess the land, this makes the Gothic or Feudal constitution. If the whole people be landlords, then is it a commonwealth." "It is strange," says Mr. Pope, in one of his recorded conversations, "that Harrington should be the first man to find out so evident and demonstrable a truth as that, of property being the true basis and measure of power." In truth, he was not the first. The idea is as old as political science itself. It may be found in Aristotle, Lord Bacon, Sir Walter Raleigh, and other writers. Har
rington seems, however, to be the first writer who has illustrated and expanded the principle, and given to it the effect and prominence which justly belong to it.
To this sentiment, sir, I entirely agree. It seems to me to be plain, that in the absence of military force, political power naturally and necessarily goes into the hands which hold the property. In my judgment, therefore, a republican form of government rests, not more on political constitutions, than on those laws which regulate the descent and transmission of property.-Governments like ours could not have been maintained, where property was holden according to the principles of the feudal system; nor, on the other hand, could the feudal constitution possibly exist with us. Our New England ancestors brought hither no great capitals, from Europe; and if they had, there was nothing productive in which they could have been invested. They left behind them the whole feudal system of the other continent. They broke away, at once, from that system of military service established in the dark ages, and which continues, down even to the present time, more or less to affect the condition of property all over Europe. They came to a new country. There were, as yet, no lands yielding rent, and no tenants rendering service. The whole soil was unreclaimed from barbarism. They were themselves, either from their original condition or from the necessity of their common interest, nearly on a general level, in respect to property. Their situation demanded a parcelling out and division of the lands; and it may be fairly said, that this necessary act fixed the future frame and form of their government. The character of their political institutions was determined by the fundamental laws respecting property. The laws rendered estates divisible, among sons, and daughters. The right of primogeniture, at first limited, and curtailed, was afterwards abolished. The property was all freehold. The entailment of estates, long trusts, and the other processses for fettering and tying up inheritances, were not applicable to the condition of society, and seldom made use of. On the contrary, alienation of the land was every way facilitated, even to the subjecting of it to every species of debt. The establishment of public registries, and the simplicity of our forms of conveyance, have greatly facilitated the change of real estate from one proprietor to another. The consequence of all these causes has been, a great subdivision of the soil, and a great equality of condition; the true basis, most certainly, of a popular government.-"If the people,". says Harrington, "hold three parts in four of the territory, it is plain there can neither be any single person nor nobility able to dispute the government with them; in this case, therefore, except force be interposed, they govern themselves.
The history of other nations may teach us, how favorable to public liberty is the division of the soil into small freeholds; and a system of laws, of which the tendency is, without violence or injustice, to produce and to preserve a degree of equality of property. It has been estimated, if I mistake not, that about the time of Henry the VII, four fifths of the land, in England, was holden by the great barons, and ecclesiastics. The effects of a growing commerce soon afterwards began to break in on this state of things, and before the