Слике страница
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

suffrage who have “evidence of permanent common interest with, and attachment to the community."

(3) Civil rightsProperty. Men cannot be taxed or deprived of their property for public uses without their own consent or that of their representatives.

(4) Civil rights of those accused of crimes. “A man hath a right to know the cause of his prosecution, to be confronted with the accusers and witnesses, to call for evidence in his favor, to have a speedy trial by an impartial jury, . nor can be compelled to give evidence against himself ; " and no man can “be deprived of his liberty, except by the law of the land or the judgment of his peers.”

“ Excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."

66 General warrants ... to search places or to seize any person or persons not named . . ” without evidence of actual facts or offenses committed are oppressive.

(5) Civil Rights in Private Cases. 66 In controversies respecting property and in suits between man and man, the ancient trial by jury of twelve men is preferable..

(6) Civil Rights. Freedom of the press is one of the great bulwarks of liberty." (7) Religious liberty.

All men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience. .

The cause of liberty in all these various forms was then the cause for which men were ready to fight, and if need be, to die. Some men of those days doubtless had mixed motives. Some may have believed they would gain financially by independence. Some may have

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

fought because they liked the excitement, or to gratify a grudge against the tories. But for most it was not a selfish or an exciting experience. It was taking a desperate chance for a cause that they believed in. If we can look back and bring before us vividly the situation which the men gathered in Philadelphia on that 4th of July faced; if we can picture the terrible odds against success, the certain penalties of failure, the inevitable hardships, we begin to realize faintly how much was implied in the concluding words of the Great Declaration:

' And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honour.”

was

govern

The

The essential meaning of Liberty in the principles meaning of '76 was evidently freedom from oppression by the of Liberty government. There is not a word in them about op

pression of one class by another. There is not a word freedom from

about burdens of poverty or unfair contracts. Men oppression felt that if the government would let them alone they by could themselves get a living and pursue happiness. It

was government that they were afraid of. They wanted ment

to have a government that could not, if it wished, treat any of its subjects unjustly. So they would have it limited by law. To prevent it from being too strong they would divide it into three separate powers, and make each a sort of check upon the others. The best place to study this plan will be when we take up the meaning of the Constitution. We call attention now to the fact that it was incorporated in the Virginia Declaration of 1776.

CHAPTER XVII

DEVELOPMENT AND PRESENT PROBLEMS OF

LIBERTY

T

HE principles which were expressed and fought Amendfor in 1776 have remained as an important part ments to of the American spirit ever since. When the the Con

stitution Constitution under which our national government was

as a bill reorganized in 1789 was first framed, many of the of rights rights noted in the Declaration of Independence were not mentioned. It was provided that the writ of habeas corpus "shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the Public Safety may require it”; and, further, that “ The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by jury." But the other rights expressed in the Virginia Declaration are not explicitly mentioned. Many were fearful that the new government might be tyrannical if no provision was made concerning the rights for which the war had been fought. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “ The absence of expressed declaration insuring freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of the person under the uninterrupted protection of the habeas corpus, and trial by jury in Civil as well as Criminal cases, excited my jealousy; and the reeligibility of the President for life, I quite disapprove."

This feeling expressed by Jefferson was so general that ten amendments were adopted in the very first year, embodying essentially those rights which Englishmen had stated in the Petition of Right presented

Liberty and slavery

to Charles I in 1628, and again in the Bill of Rights drawn up by the House of Commons in 1689. They have a large place in our legal system.

It was because liberty to the men of "76 meant civil and political liberty that when they wrote “ All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty,” it never occurred to them that this excluded slavery. It is a good illustration of what so often happens, namely, that we may hold views that are really inconsistent without noticing the fact. Yet almost as soon as the war was over Congress passed the famous ordinance of 1787 for the government of the territory northwest of the Ohio River, which provided

" Article the sixth. There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory otherwise than in the punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”

and the astonishing thing is that this provision was passed without any opposition from the Southern States, although when the vote was taken there were four Northern and four Southern States present. Had it not been for the great development of cotton plantations it is quite possible that emancipation of negroes throughout the South might have followed peacefully as it did in the Northern States, but with the great demand for cotton that followed the Industrial Revolution slavery became so important to the wealth of the South that it required the terrible struggle of civil war to decide that liberty should belong to all within the nation.

Oppression by the government was what the men

of "76 feared most. But it was not long before they began to see that fighting is not the most important way of securing freedom. A man who is ignorant is Liberty not free. He does not know how to protect himself. by He does not know how to take advantage of oppor

education tunities. He is easily deceived. We have seen how the Peasants’ Revolt in England and the similar revolt in Germany failed largely because of the ignorance of the peasants. The colonists had had schools of various kinds, and in spite of their poverty had founded colleges. But these latter were chiefly intended for educating ministers. The ordinance of 1787, however, had a provision almost as significant as its article prohibiting slavery.

“Religion, morality and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

In accordance with the spirit of this provision, a generous portion of all the public lands in the Northwestern States was set apart for the support of schools and universities. Usually when a new township was laid out, six miles square and including thirty-six sections, two sections were set apart as school sections. On this foundation great school systems have been built up, in which tuition is free from the elementary school to the university. Their purpose has been well stated by President Angell of the University of Michigan: “It has been my aim that every child in the state might see from his home a path open before him to the University."

In the East, schools were established more largely by private contributions, but in many cases the states gave aid. In the early part of the nineteenth century

« ПретходнаНастави »