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Everything,
therefore, appertaining to civil government, classes itself under one or
other of these two divisions.

So far as regards the execution of the laws, that which is called the
judicial power, is strictly and properly the executive power of every
country. It is that power to which every individual has appeal, and
which causes the laws to be executed; neither have we any other clear
idea with respect to the official execution of the laws. In England, and
also in America and France, this power begins with the magistrate, and
proceeds up through all the courts of judicature.

I leave to courtiers to explain what is meant by calling monarchy the
executive power. It is merely a name in which acts of government are
done; and any other, or none at all, would answer the same purpose. Laws
have neither more nor less authority on this account. It must be from
the justness of their principles, and the interest which a nation feels
therein, that they derive support; if they require any other than this,
it is a sign that something in the system of government is imperfect.
Laws difficult to be executed cannot be generally good.

With respect to the organization of the legislative power, different
modes have been adopted in different countries. In America it is
generally composed of two houses. In France it consists but of one, but
in both countries, it is wholly by representation.

The case is, that mankind (from the long tyranny of assumed power) have
had so few opportunities of making the necessary trials on modes and
principles of government, in order to discover the best, that government
is but now beginning to be known, and experience is yet wanting to
determine many particulars.

The objections against two houses are, first, that there is an
inconsistency in any part of a whole legislature, coming to a final
determination by vote on any matter, whilst that matter, with respect
to that whole, is yet only in a train of deliberation, and consequently
open to new illustrations.

Secondly, That by taking the vote on each, as a separate body, it always
admits of the possibility, and is often the case in practice, that the
minority governs the majority, and that, in some instances, to a degree
of great inconsistency.

Thirdly, That two houses arbitrarily checking or controlling each other
is inconsistent; because it cannot be proved on the principles of just
representation, that either should be wiser or better than the other.
They may check in the wrong as well as in the right therefore to give
the power where we cannot give the wisdom to use it, nor be assured
of its being rightly used, renders the hazard at least equal to the
precaution.*[21]

The objection against a single house is, that it is always in a
condition of committing itself too soon.--But it should at the same
time be remembered, that when there is a constitution which defines the
power, and establishes the principles within which a legislature
shall act, there is already a more effectual check provided, and more
powerfully operating, than any other check can be. For example,

Were a Bill to be brought into any of the American legislatures similar
to that which was passed into an act by the English parliament, at
the commencement of George the First, to extend the duration of the
assemblies to a longer period than they now sit, the check is in the
constitution, which in effect says, Thus far shalt thou go and no
further.

But in order to remove the objection against a single house (that of
acting with too quick an impulse), and at the same time to avoid the
inconsistencies, in some cases absurdities, arising from two houses, the
following method has been proposed as an improvement upon both.

First, To have but one representation.

Secondly, To divide that representation, by lot, into two or three
parts.

Thirdly, That every proposed bill shall be first debated in those parts
by succession, that they may become the hearers of each other, but
without taking any vote. After which the whole representation to
assemble for a general debate and determination by vote.

To this proposed improvement has been added another, for the purpose of
keeping the representation in the state of constant renovation; which
is, that one-third of the representation of each county, shall go out at
the expiration of one year, and the number be replaced by new elections.
Another third at the expiration of the second year replaced in like
manner, and every third year to be a general election.*[22]

But in whatever manner the separate parts of a constitution may be
arranged, there is one general principle that distinguishes freedom from
slavery, which is, that all hereditary government over a people is to
them a species of slavery, and representative government is freedom.

Considering government in the only light in which it should be
considered, that of a National Association, it ought to be so
constructed as not to be disordered by any accident happening among the
parts; and, therefore, no extraordinary power, capable of producing such
an effect, should be lodged in the hands of any individual. The death,
sickness, absence or defection, of any one individual in a government,
ought to be a matter of no more consequence, with respect to the nation,
than if the same circumstance had taken place in a member of the English
Parliament, or the French National Assembly.

Scarcely anything presents a more degrading character of national
greatness, than its being thrown into confusion, by anything happening
to or acted by any individual; and the ridiculousness of the scene is
often increased by the natural insignificance of the person by whom it
is occasioned. Were a government so constructed, that it could not go on
unless a goose or a gander were present in the senate, the difficulties
would be just as great and as real, on the flight or sickness of
the goose, or the gander, as if it were called a King. We laugh at
individuals for the silly difficulties they make to themselves, without
perceiving that the greatest of all ridiculous things are acted in
governments.*[23]

All the constitutions of America are on a plan that excludes the
childish embarrassments which occur in monarchical countries. No
suspension of government can there take place for a moment, from any
circumstances whatever. The system of representation provides for
everything, and is the only system in which nations and governments can
always appear in their proper character.

As extraordinary power ought not to be lodged in the hands of any
individual, so ought there to be no appropriations of public money
to any person, beyond what his services in a state may be worth. It
signifies not whether a man be called a president, a king, an emperor,
a senator, or by any other name which propriety or folly may devise or
arrogance assume; it is only a certain service he can perform in the
state; and the service of any such individual in the routine of office,
whether such office be called monarchical, presidential, senatorial, or
by any other name or title, can never exceed the value of ten thousand
pounds a year. All the great services that are done in the world are
performed by volunteer characters, who accept nothing for them; but
the routine of office is always regulated to such a general standard
of abilities as to be within the compass of numbers in every country
to perform, and therefore cannot merit very extraordinary recompense.
Government, says Swift, is a Plain thing, and fitted to the capacity of
many heads.

It is inhuman to talk of a million sterling a year, paid out of the
public taxes of any country, for the support of any individual, whilst
thousands who are forced to contribute thereto, are pining with want,
and struggling with misery. Government does not consist in a contrast
between prisons and palaces, between poverty and pomp; it is not
instituted to rob the needy of his mite, and increase the wretchedness
of the wretched.--But on this part of the subject I shall speak
hereafter, and confine myself at present to political observations.

When extraordinary power and extraordinary pay are allotted to any
individual in a government, he becomes the center, round which every
kind of corruption generates and forms. Give to any man a million a
year, and add thereto the power of creating and disposing of places,
at the expense of a country, and the liberties of that country are no
longer secure. What is called the splendour of a throne is no other
than the corruption of the state. It is made up of a band of parasites,
living in luxurious indolence, out of the public taxes.

When once such a vicious system is established it becomes the guard and
protection of all inferior abuses. The man who is in the receipt of a
million a year is the last person to promote a spirit of reform, lest,
in the event, it should reach to himself. It is always his interest to
defend inferior abuses, as so many outworks to protect the citadel; and
on this species of political fortification, all the parts have such a
common dependence that it is never to be expected they will attack each
other.*[24]

Monarchy would not have continued so many ages in the world, had it not
been for the abuses it protects. It is the master-fraud, which shelters
all others. By admitting a participation of the spoil, it makes itself
friends; and when it ceases to do this it will cease to be the idol of
courtiers.

As the principle on which constitutions are now formed rejects all
hereditary pretensions to government, it also rejects all that catalogue
of assumptions known by the name of prerogatives.

If there is any government where prerogatives might with apparent safety
be entrusted to any individual, it is in the federal government of
America. The president of the United States of America is elected only
for four years. He is not only responsible in the general sense of the
word, but a particular mode is laid down in the constitution for trying
him. He cannot be elected under thirty-five years of age; and he must be
a native of the country.

In a comparison of these cases with the Government of England, the
difference when applied to the latter amounts to an absurdity.



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