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nation as a whole that they can be satisfactorily un-
All matters relating to war and foreign relations ;
The states, on the other hand, deal with a great Matters multitude of matters which are either peculiar to the dealt with people of their own jurisdiction or which at any rate by states do not necessarily imply control by a national government. Some of the chief of them are:
Control of business carried on within the state.
Maintenance of order and punishment of crimes against persons and property so far as these are not offenses against the laws of the nation.
Education in so far as this is not cared for by towns and cities.
Care for the insane and other classes that need especial treatment.
Adjustment through courts of controversies between citizens as regards property, contracts, and ordinary, business.
Care of estates, and of minor children.
When the Constitution was framed the adjustment between the two sets of powers was by no means completely defined. But there is one important difference between them. The powers of the national government are limited by the Constitution. They must either be explicitly stated or else implied in that document. Hence if a law of Congress is questioned the authority for it must be found in some clause of the Constitution. In the states, on the other hand, there is much more freedom in passing new laws. The assumption is that
an act passed by the Legislature is proper unless it is shown to be contrary to the constitution of the state, or else to the Constitution of the United States. This makes it easier for the states to experiment in new fields and is one of the advantages of a federal system of union as compared with such a system as that of France where the central government regulates the whole nation much more completely than
(2) Ad Aside from the division of powers between the fedjustment eral and state governments, there were also some combetween
promises in the Constitution itself. For example, Constates and the people gress is made up of two bodies, the Senate and the at large
House of Representatives. The House of Representatives was supposed to represent the people directly. Its members were to be elected by voters who should have the same qualifications as “ Electors of the most numerous branch of the State Legislature.” The senators, on the other hand, were not to be chosen directly by the people, but by the legislatures of the states. They were not to be in proportion to the people, but were to be two from each state. That is, in the Senate each state was to count as equal to any other state, no matter how large or how small it might be. Vermont has often been much more influential in the Senate than much larger states, because it has retained the same men in office until they have become thoroughly expert in national affairs.
A compromise is also provided in the method of choosing a president. The President is not voted for directly by the people.
the people. A certain number of “ Electors” are chosen and these vote for the President. Each state appoints as many electors as it has senators and representatives taken together. This
gives the small states a little larger voice in the election than they would have if they voted directly.
The merits and defects of a federal system have Defects of been summed up by Mr. Bryce in his American Com- the
federal monwealth essentially as follows: the faults are:
system Weakness in the conduct of foreign affairs. Weakness in home government.
Liability to dissolution by the secession or rebellion of states.
Liability to division into groups and factions by the formation of separate combinations of the component states.
Want of uniformity among the states' legislation and administration.
Trouble, expense, and delay due to the complexity of a double system of legislation and administration.
Of these faults the first is not often felt at present. The second is sometimes acutely felt, when, for example, the United States makes a treaty with a foreign government but finds itself quite unable to protect the citizens of that government against violence and wrong from a riot in some state where these citizens may be unpopular. There is no doubt that the federal government should have the power to protect citizens of other countries, and thus fulfil the solemn obligations of our treaties.
The danger of separation was illustrated in the great Civil War. Until that war there had always been some at important crises who thought a separation was lawful, and threatened to carry it out. Since the Civil War, it seems very unlikely that separation will be attempted. Our Union has become much stronger in this respect.
The need of uniformity is frequently felt. Business
men who are doing business in several states complain bitterly that it is very difficult to keep up with the various laws of these states. What is lawful in one may be unlawful in another. Another striking case of the evil of different laws is that of marriage and divorce. A person now may be lawfully married in one state, unmarried in another; lawfully divorced in one state, and still married in another. This is serious, not only for the man and woman, but also for their children, because it makes the inheritance of property by the children uncertain.
On the other hand, certain merits in a federal system
Merits of the federal system
People unite into one nation without losing enthusiasm and pride in their own local neighborhood and in their own ancestral stocks.
It is more flexible in developing a new country where the needs of new regions are different from those of the older regions.
It prevents the rise of a despotic central government which might threaten the liberties of citizens.
Self-government by small groups stimulates interest in local affairs and secures better administration, since they will be administered by those who know them best.
It enables people to try experiments on a smaller scale and gives the rest of the country an opportunity to see how these experiments work.
It relieves the central government of a great mass of duties which are liable to be too great in number to receive proper attention.
There is little doubt that all these merits are real. The chief point to observe is that while no one in this country would probably question the great advantage
of having the two kinds of union, national union for national affairs, local union in states for local affairsthe division between these two is not fixed. When the Constitution was adopted there were no railroads or telegraphs. Each state was much more separate from the rest than is the case now. Scarcely any one did business in more than a small neighborhood. We were living and thinking on a neighborhood or state basis. Now we are doing business, living, and thinking on a national basis, and hence we are feeling the need in many ways of a different adjustment between the two kinds of union.
More important probably than the balance between (3) Adlocal and state governments or between different sec- justment
between tions of the country was the balance between the con
interests flicting interests which had already caused anxiety in of Shay's Rebellion.
classes “All communities," said Hamilton, “divide themselves into the few and the many. The first are the rich and well-born, the other the mass of the people. The voice of the people has been said to be the voice of God; and however generally this maxim has been quoted and believed, it is not true in fact. The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right. Give therefore to the first class a distinct permanent share in the government. They will check the unsteadiness of the second, and as they cannot receive any advantage by the change, they therefore will ever maintain good government.”
James Madison, who was one of the leaders in drawing up the new Constitution, makes a similar statement as to government. It must meet the problem of the conflict between the poor and the rich, the debtors and the creditors, the landowners, and the manufac