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TO THE READER.—
THE idea of Self-government is one of those few great ideas, which lead mankind to personal and social perfection. We are endowed with reason, for the purpose of governing ourselves. This being the most difficult task which men have to perform, it will be only in a very remote time universally realised.
The following lines are written to show the practical working of this idea, and the consequences of losing sight of it. The idea of Self-government, is the main cause of all great social reforms and revolutions. We are indebted to it for all the good which we have derived from our Revolution. The perpetuity of this good depends alone upon a clear and general understanding of its influence on society. This understanding, nothing else, would promote.
Republics in Europe. Self-governments in America,
Self-government. Meaning of the word, .
Division of Self-government into Personal and Social,
Education, examined in regard to the principle of Self-government,
A. Plan of a State Constitution, . ́
B. Plan of a Federal Constitution, (both in conformity to the principle of Self-government,)
C. Extract from the Federal Constitution of the United States of North America,
Extract from the Constitution of the State of Kentucky,
D. New Constitution of the State of New York, examined according to the principle of Self-government,.
1. THE Word, Self-government, is of American origin. Its meaning is,-Rational, candid and manly conduct and independence in our concerns, which does not admit the interference of others. It is the fruit of Liberty in America, and is but very little known in Europe and Asia.
Men are generally governed either by the sword, or by hereditary rulers; sometimes by ecclesiastical power, and again by landed, or feudal, or moneyed aristocracies;-and finally, by a skilful combination of these different material forces. We have had republics in Greece, Italy, Germany, Holland, France, &c.; there are a few left in Europe. If, however, we examine their policy, we shall find that it differs so much from that form of state government which we call self-government, that, to avoid mistake, we hesitate to apply the word Republic to our self-governments. The instability of all these fabrics proves that they were ill adapted to the nature and laws of human society. As human society is everlasting, states will be perpetual too, if their organization and policy are in harmony with the laws which are at the bottom of human society. We are satisfied that the Americans approached nearer to that end than any people before, when they based their States and Confederation upon the principle of self-government.
We intend to examine the present condition of the American States, to ascertain how far they really are in harmony with the principle of self-government, and if we should find this not to be the case, to show how they might be brought back into the right way. It is, therefore, perhaps superfluous to remark, that we consider a self-government, as it has been started in North America, as the only true form of government. Still, we cannot conceal, that, in the beginning, some faults were committed, and that in the course of time we have fallen back in many in