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The first, as is before observed, is defective in power; the
second, is practicable only in democracies of small extent; the third,
is the greatest scale upon which human government can be instituted.

Next to matters of _principle_ are matters of _opinion_, and it is
necessary to distinguish between the two. Whether the rights of men
shall be equal is not a matter of opinion but of right, and consequently
of principle; for men do not hold their rights as grants from each
other, but each one in right of himself. Society is the guardian but not
the giver. And as in extensive societies, such as America and France,
the right of the individual in matters of government cannot be exercised
but by election and representation, it consequently follows that the
only system of government consistent with principle, where simple
democracy is impracticable, is the representative system. But as to the
organical part, or the manner in which the several parts of government
shall be arranged and composed, it is altogether _matter of opinion_,
It is necessary that all the parts be conformable with the _principle of
equal rights_; and so long as this principle be religiously adhered to,
no very material error can take place, neither can any error continue
long in that part which falls within the province of opinion.

In all matters of opinion, the social compact, or the principle by which
society is held together, requires that the majority of opinions becomes
the rule for the whole, and that the minority yields practical obedience
thereto. This is perfectly conformable to the principle of equal rights:
for, in the first place, every man has a _right to give an opinion_ but
no man has a right that his opinion should _govern the rest_. In the
second place, it is not supposed to be known beforehand on which side
of any question, whether for or against, any man's opinion will fall.
He may happen to be in a majority upon some questions, and in a minority
upon others; and by the same rule that he expects obedience in the one
case, he must yield it in the other. All the disorders that have arisen
in France, during the progress of the revolution, have had their origin,
not in the _principle of equal rights_, but in the violation of that
principle. The principle of equal rights has been repeatedly violated,
and that not by the majority but by the minority, and _that minority
has been composed of men possessing property as well as of men without
property; property, therefore, even upon the experience already had,
is no more a criterion of character than it is of rights_. It will
sometimes happen that the minority are right, and the majority are
wrong, but as soon as experience proves this to be the case, the
minority will increase to a majority, and the error will reform itself
by the tranquil operation of freedom of opinion and equality of rights.
Nothing, therefore, can justify an insurrection, neither can it ever be
necessary where rights are equal and opinions free.

Taking then the principle of equal rights as the foundation of the
revolution, and consequently of the constitution, the organical part,
or the manner in which the several parts of the government shall be
arranged in the constitution, will, as is already said, fall within the
province of opinion.

Various methods will present themselves upon a question of this kind,
and tho' experience is yet wanting to determine which is the best,
it has, I think, sufficiently decided which is the worst. That is
the worst, which in its deliberations and decisions is subject to
the precipitancy and passion of an individual; and when the whole
legislature is crowded into one body it is an individual in mass. In all
cases of deliberation it is necessary to have a corps of reserve, and it
would be better to divide the representation by lot into two parts, and
let them revise and correct each other, than that the whole should sit
together, and debate at once.

Representative government is not necessarily confined to any one
particular form. The principle is the same in all the forms under which
it can be arranged. The equal rights of the people is the root from
which the whole springs, and the branches may be arranged as present
opinion or future experience shall best direct. As to that _hospital of
incurables_ (as Chesterfield calls it), the British house of peers,
it is an excrescence growing out of corruption; and there is no more
affinity or resemblance between any of the branches of a legislative
body originating from the right of the people, and the aforesaid
house of peers, than between a regular member of the human body and an
ulcerated wen.

As to that part of government that is called the _executive_, it is
necessary in the first place to fix a precise meaning to the word.

There are but two divisions into which power can be arranged. First,
that of willing or decreeing the laws; secondly, that of executing or
putting them in practice. The former corresponds to the intellectual
faculties of the human mind, which reasons and determines what shall be
done; the second, to the mechanical powers of the human body, that puts
that determination into practice.(1) If the former decides, and the
latter does not perform, it is a state of imbecility; and if the latter
acts without the predetermination of the former, it is a state
of lunacy. The executive department therefore is official, and is
subordinate to the legislative, as the body is to the mind, in a
state of health; for it is impossible to conceive the idea of two
sovereignties, a sovereignty to _will_, and a sovereignty to _act_.
The executive is not invested with the power of deliberating whether it
shall act or not; it has no discretionary authority in the case; for it
can _act no other thing_ than what the laws decree, and it is _obliged_
to act conformably thereto; and in this view of the case, the executive
is made up of all the official departments that execute the laws, of
which that which is called the judiciary is the chief.

1 Paine may have had in mind the five senses, with reference
to the proposed five members of the Directory.--_Editor._.

But mankind have conceived an idea that _some kind of authority_ is
necessary to _superintend_ the execution of the laws and to see
that they are faithfully performed; and it is by confounding this
superintending authority with the official execution that we get
embarrassed about the term _executive power_. All the parts in the
governments of the United States of America that are called THE
EXECUTIVE, are no other than authorities to superintend the execution of
the laws; and they are so far independent of the legislative, that they
know the legislative only thro' the laws, and cannot be controuled or
directed by it through any other medium.

In what manner this superintending authority shall be appointed, or
composed, is a matter that falls within the province of opinion. Some
may prefer one method and some another; and in all cases, where opinion
only and not principle is concerned, the majority of opinions forms the
rule for all. There are however some things deducible from reason, and
evidenced by experience, that serve to guide our decision upon the case.
The one is, never to invest any individual with extraordinary power; for
besides his being tempted to misuse it, it will excite contention and
commotion in the nation for the office. Secondly, never to invest power
long in the hands of any number of individuals. The inconveniences that
may be supposed to accompany frequent changes are less to be feared than
the danger that arises from long continuance.

I shall conclude this discourse with offering some observations on the
means of _preserving liberty_; for it is not only necessary that we
establish it, but that we preserve it.

It is, in the first place, necessary that we distinguish between the
means made use of to overthrow despotism, in order to prepare the way
for the establishment of liberty, and the means to be used after the
despotism is overthrown.

The means made use of in the first case are justified by necessity.
Those means are, in general, insurrections; for whilst the established
government of despotism continues in any country it is scarcely possible
that any other means can be used. It is also certain that in the
commencement of a revolution, the revolutionary party permit to
themselves a _discretionary exercise of power_ regulated more by
circumstances than by principle, which, were the practice to continue,
liberty would never be established, or if established would soon be
overthrown. It is never to be expected in a revolution that every man is
to change his opinion at the same moment. There never yet was any truth
or any principle so irresistibly obvious, that all men believed it
at once. Time and reason must co-operate with each other to the final
establishment of any principle; and therefore those who may happen to be
first convinced have not a right to persecute others, on whom conviction
operates more slowly. The moral principle of revolutions is to instruct,
not to destroy.

Had a constitution been established two years ago, (as ought to have
been done,) the violences that have since desolated France and injured
the character of the revolution, would, in my opinion, have been
prevented.(1) The nation would then have had a bond of union, and every
individual would have known the line of conduct he was to follow. But,
instead of this, a revolutionary government, a thing without either
principle or authority, was substituted in its place; virtue and crime
depended upon accident; and that which was patriotism one day, became
treason the next. All these things have followed from the want of a
constitution; for it is the nature and intention of a constitution to
_prevent governing by party_, by establishing a common principle that
shall limit and control the power and impulse of party, and that says to
all parties, _thus far shalt thou go and no further_. But in the absence
of a constitution, men look entirely to party; and instead of principle
governing party, party governs principle.

1 The Constitution adopted August 10, 1793, was by the
determination of "The Mountain," suspended during the war
against France.



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