Слике страница
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

de our fat eat mo the docuFunermore, the numerous

y le pastem mimority of four lent pry to the contention that terluk cisions are not mere

Tar and dirt l the Constitution to specific and cons to the venerable fabric This of course, is con

21s wil make clear what

Não many intention of adverse Du rome Cures constitutional law eto test the demands of new circumstances, the piner of the Court as to what ought to be

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The tue of Chisholm z. Georgia, menthe Court took risdiction over a suit This was not the intention of at the time of the rámale to conter such jurismuseubel, by the geters protest which went up against and the fruity with MUA 12 Amendment was provided. Thorore, Harbon la Tu Peserals had expressed his was geen by the Constitution, and the 19 the seem to have been contrary to the ring of the Court: but the Court, desing 10 Take the Con titwon a wondy math nstrument, assumed jarl option over the sut gunst Georga. A more Docu Crews that of Marbury 1. Maised, n valch the Court decided for the first time that it had power to tecure vai sutus which it deemed ountry to the ConstÍTIDOR Würther the majority in the convention intended to best, a ich high prerogative to the redery, tritull 5 1 matter of cotroversy. Certain it is that some of the members CLIT H." „ton, a cried sich a pover to the Court. but no express warrant was cop eyed by the document itseif, and there is some reason for holding that such might not have been the general intention of those who ratlled the nstrument. Later the Court extended the sia re fording day state to pass a law impairing the obligat on of contract to cover even agreements made by

[ocr errors]

↑ Readings, p. 12.

the states themselves in the form of charters and concessions, a ruling which, however expedient from the standpoint of the protection of private rights, certainly widened the meaning of the term "contract," as generally understood at the time. To cite a more recent example: until the acquisition of our insular dependencies, an achievement as far beyond the range of the vision of the convention of 1787 as any imaginable, the Court had uniformly ruled that the provisions safeguarding individual liberty, laid down in the first ten amendments, restricted the federal authorities everywhere, in the government of territories as well as in the districts organized into states; but when it became apparent that such practices of Anglo-Saxon peoples as indictment and trial by jury were not applicable to peoples in other stages of culture and with diverse historical antecedents, the Court, by a process more subtle than logical, found a way of freeing the administration of the island dependencies from some limitations that had hitherto applied in the government of territories.2

The pages that follow describing the organization and operation of our system of government, federal and state, are in a large part but a commentary on the ways in which the Constitution"the solemn determination of the people enacting a fundamental law" has been transformed in the hands of those who from generation to generation have exercised political power. Over and over the plain record of political practices and official operations will bear eloquent testimony to the truth of the measured summary by Judge Cooley so often quoted: "We may think that we have the Constitution all before us; but for practical purposes the Constitution is that which the government in its several departments and the people in the performance of their duties as citizens, recognize and respect as such; and nothing else is. . . . Cervantes says: 'Every one is the son of his own works.' This is more emphatically true of an instrument of government than it can possibly be of a natural person. What it takes to itself, though at first unwarrantable, helps to make it over into a new instrument of government, and it represents at last the acts done under it."

1 See below, chap. xxii.

2 Readings, p. 375.



THE facity with which our political system may be divided into the state and federal branches naturally leads to the separation of them for the purpose of convenient treatment; but the Student should never lose sight of the fact that, after all, our political system is a unit because the operations of both branches interlock at many points, and the developments of each affect the letter and spirit of the other. The framers of the federal Constitution, for example, did not contemplate the adoption of general manhood suffrage or the direct election of the President, and yet state action and party practice have accomplished this. It surely was not the intention of the states which ratibed the Constitution that the outcome was to be the reduction of each commonwealth to the position of little more than a local government through the increase of federal power; and yet such has been the case. It was not dreamed that national politics would overshadow state politics; but the growth of huge national party organizations in connection with the operations of the federal government has made the state a tight-working cog in a national mechanism. A complete survey of American constitutional evolution must, therefore, take into account the tendencies in the evolution of state institutions.

An examination of the principal features of the early state constitutions reveals certain striking characteristics! They show, in the first place, an unlimited faith in the legislature. because they contain practically no limitations on the powers and procedure of that body. At the same time, they reveal a distrust of the executive by providing in many instances that the governor shall be elected by the legislature, and under all circumstances restricted to the exercise of a very limited authority.

The constitutions of the American states are to be found in Thorne, The Federal and State Constitutions, pubashed by the federal government

[ocr errors]

Following colonial precedents, they impose property qualifications, and in many cases religious tests as well, upon voters and office-holders. They, furthermore, provide that the state executive officers, and especially the judges, shall be appointed, not elected in the modern fashion. Finally, the eighteenth-century constitutions are brief and simple in contrast to the bulky and complex documents of our time. The fundamental law of New Jersey adopted in 1776 fills only about five printed pages. The constitution of New York, drafted in 1777, including a reprint of the Declaration of Independence, covers less than sixteen printed pages, while the last constitution of New York, drafted in 1894, spreads over forty-three pages. The Virginia constitution of 1776, leaving out of account some passages from the Declaration of Independence, fills only about five and a half printed pages; the last Virginia constitution (1902) is ten times as large. The constitution-makers of Louisiana in 1898 required forty-five thousand words to write the fundamental law of that commonwealth; and the constitution of Oklahoma, admitted to the Union in 1907, would fill about one hundred and fifty printed pages of the style of this volume.

The Rise of Political Democracy

At the outset of an inquiry into the first state constitutions, one is struck by the fact that the Fathers, notwithstanding the theoretical assertion of equality in the Declaration of Independence, did not believe that the right to vote and hold office should be freely given to all men regardless of the amount of property they held or the religious opinions they entertained.' In nearly every state, the suffrage was limited, by the constitution or laws, to property-owners, generally freeholders or taxpayers, and in some of them religious tests were imposed in addition. In New York the constitution of 1777, adopted "in the name and by the authority of the good people" of the state, provided that "every male inhabitant of full age, who shall have personally resided within one of the counties of this state for six months immediately preceding the day of election, shall at such election be entitled to vote for representatives of the said county in assembly; if, during the time aforesaid, he shall

1 Readings, p. 72.

[ocr errors][merged small]

THE facility with which into the state and federaile tion of them for the parper student should never 10.e political system is a unit interlock at many pets the letter and spirit e Constitution, for ea general manhood sut and yet state action It surely was not the Constitution that t.. commonwealth to the ment through the i been the case. It Y overshadow stufe party organization federal governed a national mel, stitutional tendencies in

An ex constitution


bec pie

and 1. a F

the ex

[ocr errors]

Dement vented De for


us nurged


white org of God Parents, and vers and has pace of one 1 acres of ing year 50 the tax ement shall e capable of as a member

~"...tives.” 2

ould not be wesi on voters,

gher qualifirding to the

, every reprerehold worth na senator, y Protestants

te. See above,

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« ПретходнаНастави »