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insure domestic tranquillity,” or in the words of the “Federalist” upon that portion of the Constitution, “to guard one part of society against the injustice of the other part,” if their peace, safety, or interests should be threatened by an adverse party or faction. The danger of the whole power of the State falling into the hands of a faction is one to which pure republican governments are especially exposed. “If a majority be united by a common interest, the rights of a minority will be insecure.” * It was a main object with the framers of the Constitution to devise means for protecting the rights of minorities; or rather, what is more effectual, for enabling minorities to protect themselves. These means, which are comparatively weak in the more purely republican governments of the individual States, are, in the “ compound republic” of the United States, to use the expression of one of the able writers of the “ Federalist,” sought for, by placing power in the hands of so many parts, interests, and classes of citizens, “that the rights of individuals, or of the minority, will be in little danger from interested combinations of the majority.” This is precisely the same principle which has always been so conspicuous in the British Constitution, and which has always insured a full hearing to every interest however small, and however apparently at variance, in its instincts and sympathies, with the great majority of influential opinions in the State. It is this which justly gives it its air of true and liberal freedom; which makes every man who lives under it, feel that he possesses in himself, and in those united with him, a guarantee against oppression. On this point there is no difference of principle between our Constitution and that of the United States. The difference is only in the modes of attaining the same end. We look to the independent powers of our ancient or modern corporations, to the distinct and peculiar powers and privileges of our church and universities, to our hereditary and independent House of Lords, to the fair representation of all classes and interests in our House of Commons by such a distribution of the franchise as will enable representatives of all classes to obtain a place there. The Constitution of the United States looks to the “ great variety of interests, parties, and sects which it embraces,” as the security against a coalition of a majority to overbear the wills, and affect the interests of a minority, by sudden and hasty acts of legislation. Which of the two best answers its purpose, we need not at this moment stop to argue. It will be entered upon elsewhere. No human institutions are perfect; but in intention and principle the Constitutions of Great Britain and of the United States are on this important point the

* Federalist, No. 10.

Both seek to break the force of majorities, and, as it were, to stay their hand, until the majorities themselves have had time for mature reflection, and until minorities have been able to exercise the effort, always difficult even to the calmest minds, of looking at questions that threaten their interests or thwart their opinions, from the points of view


that lead to the conclusions which are prevailing against them. It is thus only that minorities can have time to prepare for, and adjust themselves to, the coming change.

However temperate and forbearing in principle and intention, and therefore similar to our own, the Constitution of the United States may be in those particulars, the constitutions of the individual States partake very little of that spirit, and the tendency of the whole of them has been, from the period of the Revolution to the present day, to weaken or do away

with any checks or impediments that existed in their original forms of government, upon the immediate action of the numerical majority of voters, and thus to assimilate themselves more nearly to pure democracies. The particulars of these changes will be found in a

future page.





The necessity of the separation of the three great powers of a State—the legislative, the executive, and the judicial, is a truth so elementary, that it requires in this country no argument to enforce it. “It is,” says Paley, “ the first maxim of a free State ;” and Montesquieu had before observed, that there can be no liberty where those three powers are not kept distinct.*

Accordingly, Mr. Justice Story remarks, that “it is no small commendation of the Constitution of the United States, that instead of adopting a new theory, it placed this practical truth as the basis of its organisation.” +

* Esprit des Lois, Liv. xi. c. 6. + § 524.

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