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ence, the assertor of the majesty of their law, the representative of their dignity, collective and personal-is placed, by their suffrages, their executive officer, their Governor. Yet, throughout the Union, either calumny has basely cast upon many of those exalted public servants the accusation, that for the sake of obliging some political partisans, or for the sake of a few hundred dollars, they will recklessly throw back upon society its worst criminals; or a grave conviction is establishing itself in the public mind, of the necessity of removing from them the snare, arising either from the smallness of their incomes, or their precarious tenure of power, which tempts to such a degrada · tion of themselves, and of the office they hold.

The salaries of the governors of thirteen States do not exceed 1500 dollars; of fifteen, from 1500 to 3500 dollars; of one, 4000 dollars; of one, 6000 dollars; of California, 10,000 dollars.


As introductory to some sound opinions of Mr. Justice Kent, on the subject of the transmission of property in the United States,* I add the substance of an elaborate note in which he traces the current of opinion upon that question in ancient and modern times.

"The transmission of property by hereditary descent, from the parent to his children, is the dictate of the natural affections, but the distribution among the children has greatly varied in different countries."

Commentaries, vol. iv. pp. 374-381.

"If some have thought that a 'natural' equality 'belonged to the lineal descendants in an equal degree,' others have attached more importance to the fact of the eldest son being the "natural substitute for the want of a paternal guardian to the younger children.'"

"The law of Moses gave the eldest son a double portion."

"In Athens the males took equally, and were preferred to females."

"In Rome, the law of the Twelve Tables, in cases of intestacy, admitted equally males and females to the succession."

"After various changes, excluding and including females, Justinian, by his 118th Novel, admitted males and females to an equality in the right of succession to intestates, and preferred lineal descendants to collaterals.

"The law of descent in the provinces of France before the Revolution of 1789, was exceedingly various, and far exceeded in variety that of the several American States.

"In the southern provinces (pays de droit écrit) the succession to intestates was generally according to the 118th Novel of Justinian, to all the children, male and female equally.

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"But in the other provinces (pays coutumiers) there was much difference even in the lineal line. In the Nouveau Coutumier de France et des Provinces, connues sous le Nom des Gaules,' it was stated that the customs amounted to 547. In some, the eldest son took the entire estate. In most of the provinces he was allowed advantages more or less considerable. In some, the married daughters were excluded; in others, unmarried daughters, as against male children. In the collateral line, the modifications and diversities of succession were infinite.

"The decrees of the Constituent Assembly of 15th March, 1790, and 8th April, 1791, first abolished the rights of primogeniture and preference of males, in the succession to intestates' estates, following in that respect the law of Justinian; and after a distressing series of changes, retrospective decrees, confusion, and injustice, the French law of succession was permanently regulated by the Code Napoléon;' following the Novel' of Justinian as to the doctrine of representation in the descending line (Code Civil, No. 739, 740, 745), but making the distribution compulsory in all cases.

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In many of the South German States, the Code Napoléon has been retained in force since its introduction by the French at the period of their conquests, as on the Rhine, in Luxemburgh, in the Grand Duchy of Nassau, and in parts of Westphalia.

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In Prussia and Austria the law varies greatly, inclining in some provinces more towards the retention of the inheritance by the eldest or one of the other sons, in other provinces towards its subdivision.


In Denmark, by an ordinance of 1769, primogeniture gave a title to a moiety of the estate of an intestate."


In Spain, the law of equal partition applies, except where estates are fettered by an entail, and as nearly all are, the law of equal partition is of comparatively little consequence."*

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In several of the American colonies, before the Revolution, the English law of primogeniture prevailed in the distribution of the estates of intestates. It prevailed in Rhode Island until the year 1770; and in New York, New Jersey, Virginia, the two Carolinas, and Georgia, until the Revolution; and in Maryland until 1715.

* Page 381.

"In Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Delaware, the eldest son of an intestate had only a double portion, and this continued in Connecticut until 1792, when the law giving the eldest son a double portion was repealed. In Pennsylvania, by the law of 1683, the law of primogeniture was abolished, but the Act still gave the eldest son a double portion, and so the law of Pennsylvania continued until 1794. The Act of Massachusetts, in 1692, did the


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"In the Abstract of the Laws of New England,' published in 1655, it was ordered that inheritances, as well as personal estates, should descend to the next of kin of the intestate, assigning a double portion to the eldest son.

"The old New England laws spoke of this double portion as being according to the law of nature and the dignity of birthright.'

"The Ordinance of Congress for the government of the North-Western Territory,† provided that the estates, within the territory, of persons dying intestate, should go to the children, and the descendants of a deceased child, in equal parts.. But this law was to be subject to. future legislative alteration, though it is presumed to be still the general law of descent in all those States and districts comprising what, in 1787, was the territory of the United States north-west of the river Ohio, except in the instances hereinafter mentioned."

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With respect to the general law regarding the power of creating deferred estates, it is the same in all the States of the Union, except New York, namely, that an executory device of real or personal estate is good (as in England) if limited to vest within the compass of twenty-one years after * Mass. Historical Collections, vol. v. p. 178. +13th July, 1787.

a life or lives in being.' The only alteration made in the law of the State of New York by the revised statute of A.D. 1830, was that this statute will not allow the absolute power of alienation to be suspended for a longer period than during the continuance of not more than two lives in being at the creation of the estate."

"The English law allows of the limitation to any number of lives in being, and for twenty-one years and nine months afterwards."

Thus far as regards the general course of law on this subject in most of the civilised countries of the world in ancient and modern times. On the questions of social policy and abstract right involved in these various and opposite laws and customs, the opinions of men are likely to continue as various as the laws and customs themselves. On the one hand, it will be argued that the feeling of natural equity is better satisfied by the equal partition of inheritances. Also, when regarded from the political point of view, the practice of equal partition agrees more with the theory that an universal participation in political power is a matter of right, and not a question of expediency. On the other hand, it is denied that there is any such principle of natural equity involved, as to establish a right or a claim on the part of the children to an equal partition of the father's property; that it is a question of discretion, and of practical wisdom, with a view to the best interests and the ultimate welfare of the whole family; and that the experience of successive generations in any particular country is the index and the guide to the practice most suitable to that country. The practice of our own country is seen to tend to the accumulation of capital, and consequently to all that power, to all those vast enterprises, and to all those great achievements, which accumu

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