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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
laws necessary, the knowledge and observance of which are indispensable for self-government. All do not know them, and if they do, are not always inclined to obey them, (in consequence of want of personal self-government,) hence originates that kind of business, which generally is called public business, or civil government, state business, &c.
Where personal self-government in a great measure is wanting, as in Mexico or South America, and in most European countries, this public business (state business, is rather in a deplorable state, and conducted mostly according to one or the other principles of physical force, which necessarily leads to subjection. It is in vain to expect that the public business will ever be done in a fair way among men who do not understand how to govern themselves, or, in other words, to take good care of themselves.
(physical and moral) education of our young is the first business we have to examine in regard to the principle of self-government. It is one of the most important duties men have to accomplish, and requires chiefly the unwavering care and unceasing attention of woman, whereas they take no active part in public affairs. It is true that in America, education is left more nearly free than any
where else. The interference of ecclesiastical institutions, perhaps only the Catholic excepted, is not of great consequence. But there are nevertheless several instances, where the laws and activity of public officers are not in strict conformity with self-government in regard to the liberty of education. We mention first the Orphan Asylums. Orphans ought not to be crowded into houses together, but educated in families. Further, our states begin to interfere, more and more, with the liberty of education, in regard to elementary schools. It is the right and duty of parents (guardians,) to take care of the schooling of their offspring, and not the business of the state,
6. Instruction, the other great lever of self-government, may be either elementary, religious (churches,) moral, scientific, mechanic, or otherwise, and is also mostly depending on parents (guardians.) When they are not able to accomplish it alone they may engage teachers or masters to do it. True, self-governing men never will neglect this duty. The interference of states in the business of education and instruction leads to centralization,