Abbildungen der Seite

only constitute the Upper House of a state. The Lower House of legislature in each state is usually called the House of Representatives, or in some states the House of Commons, and has no share whatever in the administration. In Virginia, the oldest British colony, dating from 1607, the two Houses are called Senate and House of Delegates; in New Jersey, the Council and Assembly; in North Carolina, the Senate and House of Commons; in New York, the Senate and Assembly; in Connecticut and Ohio, the Legislative Council and House of Representatives; in New Hampshire, the Senate and House of Representatives ; in many, as in our colonies, the Upper House is called the Legislative Council, and the Lower House is called the Legislative Assembly. As to the number of representatives in each state, or the basis of their election, there is no point on which the policy of the several states is more at variance, whether we compare the legislative assemblies directly with each other, or consider the proportions wbich they respectively bear to the number of their constituents. Passing over the difference between the smallest and larger states—as Delaware, whose most numerous branch consists of twenty-one representatives, and Massachusetts, where it amounts to between three and four hundred-a very considerable difference is observable among states nearly equal in population.

The franchise and mode of election and qualification of members varies in each state ; in most, however, the members of the Upper and Lower Houses are chosen in the same manner in that state, the only difference being that the members for the Upper House are chosen for a longer period than those chosen for the Lower; the latter usually sit for only one year, the former for two or three years. The effect of this is, of course, that in each provincial or state legislature there is thus always a nucleus of men of business habits, as all the members of both legislatures do not change at once; and a certain continuity of effort is thus insured, as in our municipal and town councils. There is nothing aristocratic in this double House. This division of legislative power has been shown by time and experience to be a principle of the greatest necessity. Pennsylvania was the only one of the original states that tried to do with a single House, Franklin consenting; but they were soon obliged to change the law, and create two Houses..

At the election of members for the Imperial Senate, the two Houses of Legislature in each state meet together in general assembly, and elect by joint ballot the two inhabitants of the state who they think are most worthy to be their Senators or state-representatives at Washington.

Each state has home rule just like any of our own colonies ; and the limits of the law-making power in each state are simply that no law can be made retrospective; no duty can be laid on

articles imported or exported from one state to another of the Union (except with the consent of Congress, and then the nett produce of such tax shall be for the use, not of that particular state thus indulging in protection, but for the treasury of the United States for imperial purposes); no treaty may be made with any foreign power; no troops or ships of war may be kept (without consent of Congress). The citizens of each state are entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states. Each state is entitled to protection by the imperial authority against invasion from without, and, on application, against domestic violence. Both personal and real property are taxed by the local parliaments for local purposes ; and the local debts amount to more than 250 millions sterling.

On a comparison of the different states one with another, we find a great dissimilarity in their laws, and in many other circumstances. At present, some of the states are little more than a society of husbandmen ; others of them have made great progress in branches of manufacture and industry, and have already the fruits of a more advanced population. Of the thirty-eight states, New York now contains a population as large as that of Ireland, Pennsylvania hardly less; Illinois and Ohio have each a population equal to that of Scotland; fifteen other states each a population over 1} million (which is about the population of Wales), and the remaining nineteen a population varying in each case from just short of a million down to that of the smallest (Nevada), which contains 62,000. The average population of these last nineteen may be said to be that of Liverpool or Birmingham, or about half the population of either of the colonies of Victoria or New South Wales. Illinois is the only state that has adopted as yet the free' vote or system of minority representation in the election of the members for its State legislature. For this purpose (since 1870) it has been divided into fifty-one electoral districts; each of these elects one member for the Upper House and three for the Lower. For the election of these last each elector has three votes, as many votes as there are vacancies, which he may distribute in any way he pleases among the candidates, even to the fraction of a vote and a half for each candidate. The system is said to work well, and other states are likely to adopt it. It is the simplest and perhaps the only practicable way of representing anything but the gross majority, and is the same as the 'cumulative vote' which is used in England at the election of the London School Board.

This league of thirty-eight countries, many of which exceed in size the smaller kingdoms of Europe, when founded, consisted of thirteen separate colonies, and each of these as late as 1782 (six years after they had severed themselves from England) looked with indifference, often with hatred, fear, and aversion on the other states.

There was but little commercial or political intercourse between them, their geographical distances apart in those days were great, and the interests of the various colonies were opposed. The central government of Congress was at first a matter of necessity, to enable them to combine against a common foe; but it was regarded as jealously by each of the separate colonies as if it was a foreign power, through fear of its encroaching on the independence of the states. The great extent of country they covered was held by many to be alone a sufficient obstacle against their ever combining into one union. It Was urged by those who wished that the colonies should remain distinct political communities, and each a free and independent state, that the situation of the States of Holland and of the Cantons of Switzerland, which were closely contiguous, and the only examples of federal states that were then known or considered by the people with any detail or precision, was wholly different to that of theirs. In their resistance to Great Britain, however, they fornied 'a firm league of friendship,' and afterwards, under the pressure of war, the states came to acquiesce in a single, strong, prompt, and energetic executive power, but all dreaded even then a consolidation of the Union. A number of delegates first met from the colonies and provinces in North America, and held a Congress ’ in Philadelphia, on the 5th of September, 1774. This Congress continued to act, each member being only responsible for his own colony, till the Declaration of Independence, 1776. On the 15th of November, 1777, articles of Confederation were drawn up, but not till four years afterwards, the 1st of March, 1781, did all the states approve them—so reluctant were they to part with any portion of their powers even in face of the common enemy of their country. The imposition of any tax whatever by the Central authority for common purposes was long resisted, and Washington had to disband the army at the end of the war, and send his men to their homes actually with heavy arrears of pay, because the states would not agree together to pay the debt they owed to their liberators, and would not give the central authority a power of providing revenue for itself. Each of the thirteen colonies claimed tenaciously, and exercised for some time, the exclusive right to regulate its commerce, and each state most ungenerously and most selfishly availed itself to the utmost limit of this right. In the regulation of commerce, regard was only had to their local self-interests, and a policy was frequently followed by one state, the aim of which was to obtain. an advantage directly opposed to the welfare of the neighbouring. state. After peace had been made with Great Britain, Washington struggled on against the great disinclination each state still felt to divest itself of the smallest attribute of independence, so far that at one moment even civil war seemed imminent between them. On the 21st of February, 1787, the Congress of the Confederation determined to summon a Convention of the States, “to consider VOL. XVI.-No. 89.



how far a uniform system in their commercial relations might be necessary to their common interests. They met on the 14th of May, 1787; Washington joined the delegates, and although they

the most experienced, patriotic, and intelligent of the colonists, at first a satisfactory issue seemed far off ; a secession of certain states was more than threatened. The delegates of ten out of the thirteen, however, at last reluctantly approved the result of their labours, and on the 17th of September, 1787, agreed that a draft of this should be first laid before the United States in Congress assembled, and on their approving the same, it should then again afterwards be submitted to a convention of delegates chosen by the people from each state for the sole purpose of determining its adoption or rejection. This was done, and the constitution was thus ratified by the several states in succession ; the ordinary legislatures of each state were not consulted. Three states only at first gave

in their adhesion to it that year, eight in 1788, one the following year, while the thirteenth held out, and off from the Union, for two years and a half, till the 29th of May, 1790. Thus from what Washington and Franklin regarded at the time as a deplorable chaos of conflicting elements, the present Union was born. Such as it was, it seemed more than doubtful how long it would live.

From the difficulties that attended the Federation of the United States, and the steadfast statesmanship that from these small beginnings carried it out at all hazards, many lessons may be learnt by those who regard the federation of the at present independent members of the British dominions as impossible. The federal constitution, said Adams, was extorted from the grinding necessity of a reluctant people ;' it was not till afterwards, and as the years rolled on, that it came to be regarded by that same people as the perfection of political wisdom, and that justice was done to the statesmen who created it. The national convention that drew up the constitution consisted of fifty-five members, of whom Washington was president. When these presented the first sketch of the constitution to the Congress they said:

In all our deliberations on this subject we kept steadily in our view that which appeared to us the greatest interest of every true American, for in this scheme is involved our prosperity, safety, perhaps our national existence. This important consideration seriously and deeply impressed on our minds has led each state in the convention to be less rigid in points of inferior magnitude than might have been otherwise expected ; and thus the constitution, which we now present, is the result of amity under that mutual deference and concession which the peculiarity of our political situation rendered indispensable.

The new government commenced its functions in 1789, after an interregnum of two years; and thus the revolution of America ended precisely when that of France began.'

The danger and possibility of disruption of the states was ever

before the eyes of all parties in the Union from the very beginning and long afterwards; it was openly spoken of and threatened in 1794, and only prevented in that year by the calling out of 15,000 militiamen by the President; and though commerce, social intercourse, and custom created intellectual and moral bonds, which gradually rendered a breach more difficult, yet the solidarity of interests and union were only ultimately vindicated by the sword in 1861. As early as 1790 slavery and finance questions showed how diverse were the interests of the northern and southern states. Eight years later, Kentucky leading the way, a secession was again proposed, as the ascendency of Massachusetts and Connecticut had become unbearable to the southern states. In 1805 the western states wished to secede. In 1813 the New England states even went so far as to wish to conclude a separate treaty with England. In 1815 the northern states wished to secede, and again the eastern in 1828. The southern states of Georgia and South Carolina in 1825, 1832, and 1840 met to resist the assumption of power by the central authority—the local legislature claiming to resolve that the laws of Congress were unconstitutional, and therefore void, and of no effect; claiming, in fact, the right for each state either to approve or disapprove of any single act of the central authority. Jefferson himself pleaded a resort to the sword to resist their execution, and threatened a secession of his state from the Union if they were executed by force. Later on again the right of the central authority to admit new states to the Union was disputed. Some of the New England states began to protest, “Let the western states go off and take care of themselves,' fearing an economical development of the commerce of these last that would be injurious to their own, and on the plea, in 1803, of the vast unmanageable extent the Union was growing to, and the consequent dispersion of our population. For thirty years (1816-46) the tariff war between the different states went on, on questions of free trade and protection ; the northern states for the most part advocating the latter policy for the protection of their manufactories, and the southern wishing, as they were not manufacturers, to buy in the cheapest market. They even bound themselves not to buy from the north and west any goods which were protected by the tariffs of these latter from foreign competition, but to use instead wares of their own native manufacture, however inferior these might be. It was at length decided by the central authority that the duties needed by the treasury were to be placed in such a way that they should actually seem to encourage American industry; those articles that could be produced beyond question in the United States were to be subjected to a tax on entry from abroad, and those which must in the main be imported were to be placed under very medium duties indeed. The raising of revenue

was to be the leading feature in the calculation of the duties ;" the principle of protection was only incidentally recognised,

« ZurückWeiter »