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MR BRYCE's book on the Ameri co would involve its entire rebuildcan commonwealth is far too mass- ing from its base upwards. We ive a work to be adequately review- gladly take advantage of the book ed in a single article. We shall not to say something upon those two therefore attempt the task: At points, for both cre of urgent the same time, we cannot allow so practical inportaace. valuable a contribution to political It is dificult to resist the belief literature to pass vithout comment that inacquaintance with thesystem It raises two questions of immense of tho American commonwealth, practical importance, which, hov cven in its broad outlines, is more ever, it does not cttempt to deal concral than it ought to be. Even with, since they come within the if that is not so, it is worth while domain of party politics. The to remind our readers of them, author does not claborate or cron and to give a summary cketch of disclose his opinions on those ques- institutions which Mr Bryce has tions inside his book, though they cxplained with great clearness but may be conjectured from his posi in vide detail.

The governing tion in politics. Those questions circumstance to be attended to are, How does England compare is, that that commonwealth is with America in respect of its founded on a declaration of insecurity against the tyranny of a dependence. It emerged from a majority, or what is called demo- successful revolt. The principle, cratic haste and instability and, or condition, of absolute power, so What light does American expe- familiar to us and to the Old World, rience throw upon any project of is unknown in America. Thirteen substituting in the United King- colonies, all possessed of local Govdom a cystem of local Home Rule ernments limited and prescribed with a federal union, for the ex- by the mother country, throw off isting time-honoured system of their allegiance, but retained their parliamentary government, forms of government, which were and indivisible?


all based on limited and delegated A consideration of Mr Bryce's authority. Political necessity obLuok leads us to the conclusion liged them to combine to form a that the American guarantees Federal Union for purposes of against cocial and political disorder defence and security. They did resulting from the abuse of demo- rot drift into democracy as the cratic power are immeasurably result of struggles with feudalism greater than the corresponding and classes, but the best and wisest guarantecs in England. Also, that of the statesmen whom the great a federal cyctem at all recombling events of last century produced, that of the United Statsz cannot met together and cstablished their be established in these islands democracy, all of them anxious to without such a dislocation of our provido all the securities against political system and constitution its abuse of power which their


The American Commonwealth. By James Dryce, M.P., D.C.L., Regius Professor of Civil Law in the University of Oxford. Macmillan & Co., London : 1889.

wide experience of human govern- alone has power to effect a fundament and its evils suggested. The mental change. last thing which would have recom The principlo, therefore, of the mended itself to their approval American arrangements is toeschew would have been the establishment omnipotent Parliaments and all of an omnipotent Parliament such their works, to put absolute power as cxisted in England, and under out of sight, and to bring into play which they had been goaded to only so much of actual power as is rebellion. So far from confiding required for the purposes of governabsolute power to a majority, or to ment. Even this residue of authoany one institution or combination rity they did not intrust to any of institutions, they recognised it one institution or man, but they as existing only in the aggregate subdivided it in such a way that of individuals who composed the its parts can never be collected nation. They put it out of sight, together at the will of any one as it were, by surrounding its man or set of men. They divided exercise with every impediment. it between their executive, their They framed a national Govern- Legislature, and their judiciary, ment, resting on the written con- making each one independent of sent of the thirteen colonies and and a check upon the other two, any others which might join them, and taking care that in each case and which in time amounted to it should be strictly limited and thirty-cight. That written consent in temporary hands. They have or constitution has remained from no corresponding institution to our that day to this the source of all Cabinet, composed of the leaders the authority possessed by the na of the majority at the last general tional Government. The power election, and wielding the whole to change the constitution is out- executive power of tho Crown standing in the hands of the people, and the whole legislative authority and can only be exercised by a of Parliament. Concentration of majority of two-thirds in Congress; power is the order of the day with ratified by three-fourths of the Subdivision of power is the States which at any given time practice with them. Concentracompose the Union. Here at once tion of power has been in times is a permanent guarantee acainst past the source of our strength the tyranny of a chance majority. and the foundation of our empiiy. Such a majority cannot chango at But, for the purpose of tho present any moment the fundamental rela- comparison, we are drawing attentions of Government to the people. tion, not to its advantages or to It can do nothing outside the the necessity for its continuance, limited scope of the powers allowed but to its risks and insecurities to it by the written constitution, under the present circumstances. The power to alter the constitution, The plan of the American and to incrcase or lessen the powers Government is shortly this: the which it confices to the Federal President is the first creation of or national Government, belong the constitution. The long war to the people; but it cannot be ex which the colonies had waged ercised, as with us, by a chance served to convince them that they majority. Only by an intelligent must have a-supreme man to repand strenuous effort, prolonged for resent authority, but they 'were years, can the requisite authority equally determined that his powers be called into existence which should be limited. He holds office


for four years; a Senate is ap- President. The latter is approved pointed to control his action in for checking the hasty and heedmaking treaties and appointments ; less proceedings of the former. his activity is confined to Federal No jealousy arises, for both proaffairs; he has a small salary, and cesses are authorised by the people. no power to grant titles of dis- An English sovereign is not altinction. He, however, represents lowed to exercise the veto which the nation; he is independent of all agree that he possesses ; some Congress; he is chosen by a set hasty politicians are in favour of of presidential electors, specially abolishing the limited and temselected for that purpose by the porary check imposed by a second different States. He is remov. chamber. In America, when both able only by impeachment. His Houses have passed a bill, the powers are chiefly that he com President is expected to exercise mands the Federal army and navy; his own judgment, and commands convenes the Houses ; remits to public confidence by an indepenCongress any bill which they have dent and even liberal use of his passed for reconsideration, in which veto. On the other hand, Concase Congress cannot pass the bill gress can always checkmate the without a two-thirds majority in President's executive authority by both Houses. In making treaties, stopping the supplies. President he must havo the consent of two- and Congress must therefore more thirds of the senators, He can

or less act in harmony, but their only appoint ambassadors, consuls, duties are nevertheless to watch Supreme Court judges, and other and control each other. The high Federal officers, acting con- President, however, is not responcurrently with the Senate. The sible to Congress, nor the Congress range of his domestic authority to him; both are responsible to is. very small, for the ground is the people.

the people. If they differ in mostly covered by the States policy, they may be reduced to inGovernments. In war bis autho- activity for the short term of their rity expands, for he can assume joint existence, but they cannot the authority which the emergency terminate the connection between requires. As regards legislation, them. The Congress cannot affect he is pot a member of the Legis- the President by votes of censure lature at all. He cannot intro. or otherwise, or by any means duce bills, either through himself short_of stopping the supplies. or his ministers, for they are not The President's ministers are remembers of either House. He sponsible to him, and own can send messages recommending allegiance whatever to Congress. measures; but members go their It is obvious, at a glance, how own way, and propose such bills such a system as this weakens or as they think fit. His legislative nullifies the power of a chance authority is simply that he has a majority. The essence of it is limited veto—a veto subject to be the subdivision, limitation, and overruled by a two-thirds majority. short duration of power. The It is a curious circumstance, totally essence of the English system is dissimilar from anything we have the concentration of power. The in England, that a President gains aim of the Americans is to conpopularity by a liberal use of his serve their constitution. The aim veto. The two Houses are the of English politicians is to wield creatures of election, and so is the the concentrated


power which

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they find ready to their hand, utive Government will go on as · and dignify every one of their before. When any project of achievements by the name of pro- vital interest to the party is congress. If ever the second chamber cerned, a caucus is summoned, and is abolished, and a Triennial Act by the orders of that caucus the is passed, the power placed in the followers are bound, on pain of hands of a majority, or of those the district party managers being who successfully bid for their sup- communicated with, with a view port, will be incompatible with a to the next election. “Going continuous policy, possibly even

into caucus

is therefore the subwith the maintenance of private stitute for recognised leadership. freedom and private property. When no caucus interferes, mem

If the President and his minis- bers are free to act and vote as ters are not to be compared with they please. an English Premier and his Cab- The ouly means which the Preinet in respect of the executive sident possesses of influencing Conand legislative powers which they gress is by his patronage. Neither wield, still less is the American he nor his Cabinet have any Congress to be compared with a recognised spokesman in either British Parliament.

House. He may send messages to "Congress," says Mr Bryce (vol. i. Congress recommending particular p. 253), " is not like the Parliaments neasures, , but Congress is not of England, France, and Italy, a bound to act on them, .nor is the sovereign assenıbly, but is subject to President called upon to shape his the constitution, which the people course by, or allow any influence alone can change. It neither ap- to, their resolutions. If they pass points nor dismisses the executive

Acts by a two-thirds majority Government, which springs directly from popular election. Its sphere of prescribing any particular conduct legislative action is limited by the to a minister, the question would existence of thirty-eight Governments

still arise whether they were in the different States, whose author- within the legislative power of ity is just as well based as its own, Congress. The Supreme Court and cannot be curtailed by it.”

would have to decide that; and Further than that, he points if the Minister or President still out, later on, that the American refused to obey, the only course people do not go to Congress to would be to impeach him. Conlook for their presidential candi-gress cannot compel the dismissal dates, as. England looks to its Par- of any official. The President and liament for her Prime Ministers. his officials owo allegiance to the Congress is not the focus of politi- sovereign people, not to Congress ; cal life, as are the Legislatures of' and however much Congress may France, Italy, and England. Its distrust them, they must make the power increases as respects the best of thein, unless they can gej States, it does not increase as re- rid of them by impeachment. spects the people—that is, over their Even the power of the purse does affection and respect. Neither in not render Congress supreme.

It the Senate nor in the House are enables them to check any particthere recognised leaders and whips. ular scheme, like that.of a war A division in Congress can only or any other exceptional measure. throw out a bill, it never throws The impracticability of stopping out a Ministry. The Senate can supplies deprives them of control throw out a treaty, but the exec- over the ordinary course of Government. The President and Con- same electoral franchise which gress, accordingly, are two distinct qualifies them to vote for the powers acting as a check upon the lower branch of this State Legisother, A short account of their lature, and which is regulated in relations to each other will show each State by State legislation. how little private rights and lib- In neither House are there any erty have to fear from their dom- Government bills. They are all ination.

brought in by private members, Congress consists of two Houses: for there are no official members. the Senate, consisting of two per- Their excellence depends chiefly on sons from every State, selected for the wisdom of their introducers. six years by the State Legislature; When introduced they are referred and the House of Representatives, to committees. About five per representing the nation on the cent of an enormous total of basis of population-one member, 12,000 bills gets passed, and of

, say, to every 150,000 inhabitants. this small percentage the PresiThe Senate passeso bills in con. dent's veto kills off a good many. junction with the Lower House, Collisions between the two Houses and those bills become law on the are pretty frequent, and their assent of the President, or in spite merits are usually referred to of him if passed by two-thirds committees of conference. majorities. It has executive func- The working of this elaborate tions concurrently with the Presi- system of checks, limitations, and dent 'in matters of appointments reserves will have to be studied and treaties. Judicially it sits for from the point of view of English the trial of impeachments pre- Conservative feeling. America is ferred by the other House. It the country of equality and liberty, constitutes a link between the England is the country of classes State. Governments and the na- and empire. The former country tional Government. It is not has taken every conceivable prechanged all at once, to be replaced caution against the tyranny of a by an entirely new Senate, but majority. The latter has placed undergoes a process of gradual itself in a position in which it is change and renewal. The object exposed to serious risk in case of or result has been to preserve its a general election at an unguarded continuity and experience, and moment, when power might be enable it to check, by the superi. suddenly vested in hands which ority thence resulting, the ambition are not trustworthy, but which or inexperience of a President or would find every facility for exertthe recklessness of the House. ing it as it pleased. The Senate generally contains the Mr Bryce sums up his descripablest and foremost men in the tion in the following terms (vol. i. country, who acquire during their p. 407):six years of office considerable knowledge of affairs and experi- “ All the main features of American ence in conducting them. It is government may be deduced from the steadying and moderating two principles. One is the sovereignty power in the American constitu- of the people, which expresses itself in tional system.

the fact that the supreme law-tbe The House of Representatives their will; that they alone can amend

constitution-is the direct utterance of is elected by the populations of it ; that it prevails against every other each State, in the exercise of the law; that whatever powers it does not

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