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REFERENDUM IN AMERICA
WITH SOME CHAPTERS ON THE HISTORY OF THE
GOVERNMENT IN THE UNITED STATES
ELLIS PAXSON OBERHOLTZER, PH. D.
'Law Making by Popular Vote," " The Relations Between the Government and the
Newspaper Press in the German Empire," Etc.
The names, the initiative and the referendum, have been known, of course, to a few students of government in this country and England for many years. It is, however, within only a very short time that these terms have conveyed a meaning even to otherwise intelligent and well informed men. The governments of the Swiss cantons were little understood by foreigners and it was not until the system of referring laws to popular vote was introduced into the practice of the Confederation that the subject began to claim anything like general consideration in the English speaking world. As for myself, I cannot remember that very much that was definite was known of this interesting democratic institution prior to the appearance of a popularly written work on the Swiss Confederation in 1889 by Sir Francis O. Adams, long the British Minister at Berne, and Mr. C. D. Cunningham. This book stated discussion in this country, and it soon came to be recognized that law-making by the people was also no strange thing in the United States. Mr. James Bryce referred to the subject in a chapter in "The American Commonwealth " and during the ten years past this feature of the Swiss and American political systems has become familiar to a constantly widening circle of Americans.
Our own experience with the referendum was brought to the notice of readers in university circles by the publication in 1891 of my essay on “ Law Making by Popular Vote," by the American Academy of Political and Social Science, which was followed in 1893 by a somewhat more detailed treatment of the subject in a Monograph on the Referendum, included in the publications of the University of Pennsylvania, Political Economy and Public Law Series. These studies, though