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pending, it placed the whole executive influence and the whole military force in the unfettered hands of the political associates of the revolters.”
It is now known that the Southern officials purposely distributed the fleet of the Union in distant countries, placed stores of artillery where Southern rebels could easily take them, purposely disorganised the Federal army. Nothing else could be anticipated from an arrangement which placed the preparations for maintaining the Union in the exclusive control of the persons desirous to break the Union.
The scheme, too, of a double election has failed of its intended effect, but has produced grave effects which were not intended. The same writer observes :
“ Nor does the accession of Mr. Lincoln place the executive power precisely where we should wish to see it. At a crisis such as America has never before seen, and as it is not, perhaps, probable she will see again, the executive authority should be in the hands of one of the most tried, trusted, and experienced statesmen of the nation. Mr. Lincoln is a nearly unknown man, who has been but little heard of, who has had little experience, who may have nerve and judgment, or may not have them, whose character, both moral and intellectual, is an unknown quantity, who must, from his previous life and defective education, be wanting in the liberal acquirements and mental training which are principal elements of an enlarged statesmanship. Nor is it true to say that the American people are to blame for this—that they chose Mr. Lincoln, and must endure the pernicious results. The Constitution is as much to blame as the people, probably even more so. The framers were wisely and warmly attached to the principles of liberty, and, like all such persons, were extremely anxious to guard against momentary gusts of popular opinion. They were especially desirous that the President to whom they were intrusting vast power should be the representative, not of a small section of the community, but of a really predominant part of it. They not only established a system of double election, in the hope that the electoral college' (of which the electors were chosen by the primary electors in each State) would exercise a real discretion in the choice of President, and be some check on popular ignorance and low violence, but they likewise provided that an absolute majority of that electoral college' (a majority, that is, greater than one-half of the whole) should give their votes for the elected candidate. The effect has been painfully different from the design. In reality, the electoral college exercises no choice; every member of it is selected by the primitive constituency because he will vote for a certain presidential candidate (for
Mr. Lincoln or Mr. Douglas, and so on), and he does nothing but vote accordingly. The provision requiring the consent of an absolute majority has had a still worse effect; it has nad been futile, for it has been pernicious. It has made it very difficult to secure any election.”*
If every candidate stood who wished, and every elector voted for whom he pleased, there would be no election at all. Each little faction would vote for its own particular favourite, and no one would obtain the votes of half the whole nation. A very complicated apparatus of preliminary meetings, called caucuses, is therefore resorted to, and the working of these is singularly disastrous.
Every man of any mark in the whole nation has many enemies, some private, some public; he is probably the head of some section or minor party, and that minor party has its own antagonists, its special opponents, who would dislike more than any thing else that its head should on a sudden become the head of the State. Every statesman who has been long tried in public life must have had to alienate many friends, to irritate many applicants by necessary refusals, to say many things which are rankling in many bosoms. Every great man creates his own opposition; and no great man, therefore, will ever be President of the United States, except in the rarest and most exceptional cases. The object of “ President makers" is to find a candidate who will conciliate the greatest number, not the person for whom there is most to be said, but the person against whom there is least to be said. In the English State, there is no great office filled in at all the same way; but in the English Church there is. “Depend on it,” said a shrewd banker, not remarkable for theological zeal or scholastic learning, “ I would have been Archbishop of Canterbury, if I had been in the Church. Some quiet, tame sort of man is always chosen; and I never give offence to any one." If he did not, he might have been President of the United States. The mode in which all conspicuous merit is gradually eliminated from the list of candidates was well illustrated at the election of Mr. Pierce.
“ The candidates on the democratic side were no less than eight: General Cass, Mr. Buchanan, Mr. Douglas, Mr. Marcy, Mr. Butler, Mr. Houston, Mr. Lane, and Mr. Dickenson; all men “prominently known to their party,' and the three first supported with great enthusiasm by large sections of that party throughout the Union.
“ The Convention appointed by the democratic party in each State to decide which among these various candidates should be recommended for their votes at the election, assembled at Balti
• Economist, June 1, 1861.
more for their first meeting on the 1st of June 1852. On that day General Cass obtained the greatest number of votes at the first ballot, namely 116, out of the total of 288; but a number far below the requisite majority. A few specimens of the manner in which the votes fluctuated will not be without interest. On the ninth ballot the votes were—Cass, 112; Buchanan, 87; Douglas, 39; Marcy, 28; Butler, 1; Houston, 8; Lane, 13; Dickenson, 1. On the twenty-second ballot-Cass, 33; Douglas 80; Butler, 24; Lane, 13; Buchanan, 101 ; Marcy, 25; Houston, 10; Dickenson, 1. On the twenty-ninth ballotCass, 27. On the thirty-fifth ballot-Cass, 131; Douglas, 52; Buchanan, 32.
“On this, the sixth day of the meeting (the proceedings of and the scenes in which were fully and somewhat graphically described by the public press of both parties), a new name appeared for the first time upon the lists—that of Mr. Pierce, of New Hampshire, a gentleman well known to his friends as a lawyer of ability; also as having creditably fulfilled the duties of a member of the House of Representatives, and of the Senate of the United States; better known, however, as having joined the army as a volunteer on the breaking out of the Mexican War, and as having commanded with distinction a brigade in that war, with the rank of General. It will, nevertheless, imply no disrespect towards Mr. Pierce, if I repeat what was the universal expression, according to the public prints, throughout the Union, that no individual in the United States could have been more surprised at Mr. Pierce's nomination for the exalted and responsible office of chief magistrate of the Republic than Mr. Pierce himself. On the thirty-fifth ballot, the first in which Mr. Pierce's name appeared," he received 15 votes. On the forty-eighth, he received only 55 votes; but on the forty-ninth, the numbers voting for him were 283, out of the total of 288,a vote which 5 more would have made unanimous.
“Mr. Pierce was accordingly recommended to the democratic constituencies throughout the Union, and was elected by a considerable majority over his Whig opponent; the numbers being, for Mr. Pierce 1,504,471, and for General Scott 1,283,174."
What worse mode of electing a ruler could by possibility have been selected ? If the wit of man had been set to devise a system specially calculated to bring to the head of affairs an incompetent man at a pressing crisis, it could not have devised one more fit; probably it would not have devised one as fit. It almost secures the rejection of tried and trained genius, and almost insures the selection of untrained and unknown mediocrity.
Nor is this the only mode, or even the chief mode in which the carefully considered provisions of the American Constitution have, in fact, deprived the American people of the guidance and government of great statesmen, just when these were most required. It is not too much to say that, under the American Constitution, there was no opportunity for a great statesman. As we have seen, he had no chance of being chosen President; the artificial clauses of the Constitution, and the natural principles of human nature, have combined to prevent that. Nor is it worth a great man's while to be a President's minister. This is not because such a minister would be in apparent subordination to the President, who would probably be an inferior man to him,--for able men are continually ready to fill subordinate posts under constitutional monarchs, who are usually very inferior men, and even under colonial governors, who are rather inferior men,-but because a President's minister has no parliamentary career. As we know, the first member of the Crown is with us the first man in Parliament, and is the ruler of the English nation. In those English colonies which possess popular constitutions, the first minister is the most powerful man in the State,-far more powerful than the so-called governor. He is so because he is the accepted leader of the colonial Parliament. In consequence, whenever the English nation, or a free English colony, is in peril, the first man in England, or in the colony, at least the most trusted man, is raised at once to the most powerful place in the nation. On the Continent of Europe, the advantage of this insensible machinery is just beginning to be understood. Count Cavour well knew and thoroughly showed how far the power of a parliamentary Premier, supported by a willing and confiding parliament, is superior to all other political powers, whether in despotic governments or in free. The American Constitution, however, expressly prohibits the possibility of such a position. It enacts, " That no person holding any office under the United States shall be a member of either House during his continuance in office.” In consequence, the position of a great parliamentary member who is responsible more or less for the due performance of his own high administrative functions, and also of all lesser ones, is in America an illegal one. If a politician has executive authority, he cannot enter Parliament; if he is in Parliament, he cannot possess executive authority. No man of great talents and high ambition has therefore under the Constitution of the United States a proper sphere for those talents, or a suitable vista for that ambition. He cannot hope to be President, for the President is ex officio a poor creature; he cannot hope to be, mutatis mutandis, an English Premier, to be a Sir R. Peel, or a Count Cavour, for the American law has declared that in the United States there shall be no similar person.
It appears that the Constitution-makers of North America were not unnaturally misled by the political philosophy of their day. It was laid down first that the legislative authority and the executive authority ought to be perfectly distinct; and secondly that in the English Constitution those authorities were so distinct. Both dogmas had slid into accepted axioms, and no one was bold enough to contest them. At that time no speculative politician perfectly comprehended that the essence of the English Constitution resided in the English Cabinet; that so far from the executive power being entirely distinct from the legislative power, the primary motive force, the supreme regulator of every thing, was precisely the same in both. A select committee of the legislature chosen by the legislature is the highest administrative body, and exercises all the powers of the sovereign executive that are tolerated by the law. The advantage of this arrangement, though contrary to a very old philosophical theory, is very great. The whole State will never work in harmony and in vigour while by possibility its two great powers—the power of legislating and the power of acting-can be declared in opposition to one another; and if they are independent, they will very often be in open antagonism, and be always in dread. of it when they are not so. No government, it may be safely said, can be so strong as it should be when the enacting legislature and the acting executive are not subjected to a single effectual control.
The framers of the American Constitution did not perceive this cardinal maxim. The admitted theory of that day was that the English Constitution was one of “checks and balances ;" and the Americans, who were very willing to take it as their model (the monarchical part excepted), hoped to balance their strong independent legislature by a strong independent executive. They hoped, too, to prevent the introduction into America of that parliamentary corruption—that bribery of popular representatives by money and patronage, which filled so large a space in the thoughts of politicians of the last century, and so large a space in the lives of some of them. But though their intentions were excellent and their reasons plausible, the effect of their regulations has been pernicious. By keeping the two careers of legislation and of administration distinct, they have rendered the life of a high politician, of a great statesman, aspiring to improve the laws and to regulate the policy of a great country, with them an impossibility. They have divided the greatest department of practical life into two halves, and neither of them is worth a man's having.
We see the effect. There is no body of respected statesmen in America at this moment of their extreme need. It is not a