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the natural rights of each individual on these and kindred phrases, amount were indefeasible. But how can to nothing, that is, in the argument. you stride from this premise to the In this connection, we can most conclusion, that the majority as an easily show the fallacy of another organized body had at the forma- favorite argument. “Sovereignty tion of the government, an indefea. resides in the people.” The act of sible right to make and unmake con- the majority binds the whole-and stitutions at will ? Let us suppose therefore, “it is the right of the for a moment, that the larger por majority to change the government tion of the individuals in the com- at pleasure.” This sovereignty is munity, each one in the exercise of distinct, it is to be observed, from his indefeasible rights, should agree the supreme power which the whole to form a new constitution, and that people possesses as a body organthe smaller portion of individuals, ized in a government.

Apart from each in the exercise of the same this, sovereignty can denote only rights, should agree to abide by the that each individual has no legal old one; how has the former as an superior in the exercise of his natorganized body a “legal right" over ural rights, that no one has any the latter as an organized body? governmental authority over him in Was it from this that at the outset, this, or that he acts here as a soveeach individual in the whole commu- reign. He is accountable to no nity did agree to exercise his nat- earthly tribunal for his exercise of ural rights in harmony, and did then those prerogatives which his Creaform a constitution? But that agree. tor has given him. With this exment ceased when the constitution planation, the first position should was established. What other source read thus : sovereignty resides in is there? None. The truth is, it each individual of the whole body cannot be proved that to the people of the people. Then, the second or the totality of individuals, viewed position, that the act of the majoras an organized body, and express- ity binds the minority, is false ; for ing its will by a majority, there be whatever sovereigns do, is either long inalienable and indefeasible by agreement-and in the present rights. Indeed, if the people as an case, it is supposed the minority disorganic whole, have an indefeasi- agrees from the majority-or by ble right to make a constitution at force, and that is excluded from will, and if any individual of this legal right. The conclusion falls body has also an indefeasible right with the premises. Gov. Hubbard to revolutionize it by force, as the says, “the people are emphatically writer admits, we think these in the sovereigns of this country ;" defeasible rights are in danger of and yet, he holds that a larger becoming feasible, and that too by number of sovereigns had a legal an exercise of them which is admit- authority over a smaller number of ted to be just. We repeat it, the sovereigns.

“ It is well notion of the people being an organ- known, that the necessary result ized body distinct from government of certain preliminary proceedings, and to which inalienable rights per induced the sovereigns of Rhode tain, has no evidence in its favor, Island to appeal to what they conand yet the justification of the new ceived to be the ultimate princi. constitution in Rhode Island, as a le- ples of American freedom, and the gal measure, rests upon this falla- consequences of that appeal, was the cy. The important doctrine of the adoption by the people of a constirights of the people, in its legitimate tution for the people ;” which he use, can give it no support; and the regards as obligatory upon the unmeaning changes which are rung people of that state.” Would it not

He says,

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have accorded better with the facts ple, that the people as an organized of the case to say, that a large body, distinct from their organizanumber of the sovereigns united tion under government, have a legal themselves together to form a con- right to act at will, and thus to lay stitution, not only for themselves, every citizen under an obligation to but for a large number of other yield the same obedience to its desovereigns, and that these latter, in cisions expressed through a majorthe exercise of sovereignty, resisted ity, as to the laws themselves, then, them? We think Gov. Hubbard universal confusion must pervade has stated the doctrine truly, (though the land. The enactments of the we like not the phraseology,) in say. legislature to-day, may be overing that the people are sovereigns- thrown by the votes of the conventhat is, no individual, so far as nat- tion to-morrow. The decision of ural right is concerned, has any le. the judge upon the bench, may be gal superior ; we only marvel he did reversed by the verdict of a jury not perceive how completely it over- at the ballot-box. The condemned throws himself.

criminal may be snatched from the We have now examined the main gallows, and the acquitted victim of arguments to prove that this consti- persecution put in his place. Some tution was legally formed and rati- will say these things are impossible. fied. “A legal right," existing inde. They may be so at present; but it pendent of law and government, is because there yet remains a genaccording to any correct use of lan- eral regard for law. Let it, howguage, is an absurdity. For the doc- ever, be once established and made trine itself, there is no authority in familiar to our thoughts, that masses the declaration of independence, of men in organized bodies have nor in the declarations of rights in legal power to act against govern. the constitutions of the several states, ment and law, and who, that knows nor any force in the arguments by any thing of human nature, can which it is attempted to be supported. doubt, but that the power would be

It may be thought we have been used, and frequently used? And too minute in this examination. who, the best man among us, enWere it a mere tumult, we should trusted with such an authority over think the whole matter worthy of government, and that too kept in little attention. But it is civil war, reserve for occasions of excitement, and we may be sure, such an event would feel sure of himself that he has not been brought about by ap- should never abuse it ? We know peals merely to passion and preju- the fierceness of party conflicts. dice. Large masses of the people What party, in the excitement of are at least not kept in commotion, political contests, but would appeal, except by some principle which has in case of a bare defeat in the taken strong hold upon them. It is elections under government, to this false doctrines in the language of power above government ? And true ones, it is false principles, what parties, even the purest, could not readily distinguished from those carry on a series of such contests which are universally believed in, at the polls, without destroying the that are at the foundation of all per peace, if not the morals of the commanent violations of law and order. munity ? And when men act on principle, ar- This is a far-reaching principle. gument must be met by argument. It will not be confined to New Eng.

The general prevalence of this land. There are other parts of the doctrine would be fatal to the peace Union which are interested in it. If of the country. If it shall ever be the “ sovereigns” of South Carolina recognized as an American princi- should get together on their several Vol. I.



plantations and choose delegates, sity, not having a single advantage and then at Columbia frame a con- to counterbalance its evils. Goystitution, giving to each man his ernments in the lapse of time may inalienable rights, and ratify it by a become obsolete, and not fitted to majority of all the male inhabitants the present state of things. New of the state—all of which things constitutions are to be formed, or they have a legal right to do, and old ones remodeled. Men fall back it would be usurpation and tyranny upon their natural rights. And one to prevent it by force-we see not of the great political problems at how the minority of a different com- the establishment of our governplexion could help" themselves, ment, was, how to secure the cothat is, legally, and according to operation of the existing powers to genuine American principles. It is the necessary changes, and thus nothing to the purpose to say with prevent violence and bloodshed. It the Democratic Reviewer, “ slaves seemed to be solved by providing in cannot enter into any political rela. the constitution itself for the aid of tion. They cannot contract. To the government, in its own alterasay that they are slaves, is to say tions or even dissolution. We have that they are not thought of as been accustomed to regard the es. beings having a political existence." tablishment of this principle, as one But that is not the question, how of the great achievements of modthey “are thought of” by others, ern times in political affairs—a prinbut how have they a right to think ciple which produces changes in of themselves ; and, suppose they government with all that ease and should prove by actual fact, that quietness, with which the laws of they can enter into a political re- nature revive what is perished, and lation," that they “can contract," supply what is decayed, in the mawould there not be a legal obliga. terial world. We would have no tion on the part of the present gove doubt cast upon it, as if it were not ernment of South Carolina, to ac- adequate to every emergency. It knowledge their “ political exist is not from the feelings of party ence," and yield to them-accord- politics, it is not from hostility to ing to the doctrine of distinguished changes in government, that we opstatesmen here at the north?

pose this new doctrine, but because We have thus far taken it for of our deep conviction that it is the granted, that this principle might be firebrand of war, and of the worst universally acknowledged and its of all wars, civil war, and sent forth exercise peacefully acquiesced in. to kindle Aames, which we might But can we hope for this? We boast till now, that we had put out. must shut our eyes upon the lessons Whatever view we may take of of history, we must unlearn all that them, the proceedings in Rhode we know of human nature, we must Island must be pronounced to have become totally ignorant of our own been revolutionary. But there is hearts, before we can believe that

no necessary reproach in a revolusuch contests as this principle would tion. With all the unavoidable sufgive rise to, could be long carried fering which it produces, duty may on without a resort to arms. It is

require us to attempt it. To resist a principle of war, and the more an oppressive and tyrannical gov. dangerous, being disguised. It is rev. ernment, is to be faithful to man. olution by force, pretending to be The pledge of life, fortune and peaceful. It is insurrection against honor, in such a cause, is an act law, claiming to be lawful. And of fealty to human nature itself. what is worse than all, it is a prin- Although unsuccessful, they, who ciple introduced without any neces- have ventured all in behalf of lib.

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erty, deserve to be well spoken of. plaints; but we cannot look upon a If the actors in a revolution are cheap government as of course a ever to be branded as the enemies good one. “There is, that withof their country, it is either because holdeth more than is meet, but it they are in arms against a govern- tendeth to poverty." Where the ment, which is not oppressive, or elective franchise is limited io a because they resorted to war, before body of landholders, the majority they had sufficiently tried the meas- of whom own small estates, and ures of peace.

And surely a war, increase their wealth slowly by hard which convulses the whole commu- labor, government will be cheap ; nity and severs it to its very foun. the only fear is, it will be too cheap. dations, disturbing every household, Personal property, the property acand raging in every bosom, and quired more rapidly in mechanic which, after stirring up the fiercest arts, commerce and manufactures, passions of human nature at the and therefore spent more readily, fireside, at the social board, and at should be represented at the ballotplaces of public concourse, arrays box for the very purpose of making father against son, brother against government more liberal in its exbrother, friend against friend, and penditures. Besides, we deny the citizen against citizen, on the field maxim of the poet in respect to of battle, can be justified by noth- government, that " whate'er is best ing but oppression, and then only administered, is best.” A good adwhen all hope of other relief has ministration of government is a expired.

great benefit, but the structure of Was there then oppression in the government may of itself have a Rhode Island, to justify a civil war? beneficial influence distinct from We say civil war, because, quiet its administration. And this is the as may have been the preliminary boast of a republic, that it elevates measure of forming and adopting a the citizen by making him not a constitution, that was the first step, subject, merely to be governed, but and, if it meant any thing, the ne- a constituent part of the governcessary step to the violence which ment itself. If government is to be followed it. That great grievances considered as a something done for existed, we most fully admit. The us, in which we are merely to take exclusion of all citizens, excepting a boon, then that which is the best owners of real estate, from voting, done, may be best; but if govwas a wrong, which it was natural ernment can be so constituted, as many persons should deeply feel that the people under it may share The extension of the right of suf- not only in receiving but also in frage was demanded, however, not imparting, then the very constitumerely from respect to the feelings tion of it is a great good in itself, of a large number of the inhabit to each individual ; and it is not ants, nor merely as a political expe sufficient to say to those who are dient to quiet the complaints of the excluded from being, as it were, people, but not less out of regard living and organic parts of this body to the true interests of the state. --you are well taken care of and It is not enough to say that a state that is enough. With our views is well governed, which after all upon this subject, we do not wonder, only means in general, that taxes considering how large a portion of are light, salaries small, and public the inhabitants were excluded from improvements few and late. We the polls, that there should be a have seen the economy of the gove deep sense of injury, and, as their ernment of Rhode Island alledged complaints were disregarded, a as a sufficient answer to all com- strong feeling of indignation at their

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wrongs—and both strengthened by but of these, some are utterly unthe peculiar and marked distinction founded, others doubtful, and othexisting between the freemen and ers still, mere matters of declama. other citizens.

tion. We

pass them by. The We admit, that from the fluctua- limitation upon the right of suftions of population and other causes, frage, and ihe inequality of reprea uniform ratio between the num- sentation, are the principal politber of voters and the number of ical evils which needed to be repersons to be elected to office, can moved, and we cannot but regard not be attained ; or if attainable, them, notwithstanding the sincere that the advantage would not com- attachment of so many of the citipensate for the trouble in securing it. zens to these ancient establishments, But some limits may be put to the as sufficient to justify the use of inequality, and we cannot deny but any legal means to alter this state that in Rhode Island, this inequality of things. But this concession, had grown to be a great grievance. which is due to what appears to us We know it may be said, as before, to be the truth, leaves untouched that it wrought no practical evils; the question, whether it was an opbut we reply, it is an evil for gove pression to call for the dreadful ernment to exhibit before the com- hazard of a civil war. We see not munity an obvious disregard of what how any one can have a doubt upon is just and fair. Rhode Island was this point. But if there could be in fact, situated somewhat like Eng- any, it must cease when we farther land before the reform in the con- consider the exact period of time, stitution of the House of Commons. at which legal and peaceful measBirmingham, and Leeds, and Man- were renounced for' force. chester, had grown into large cities, There have been various attempts while many ancient boroughs, once at different times to remedy these distinguished places, had decayed ; defects, but without success. At and it was no longer to be borne, that length, in the January session of the former should be unrepresent. 1841, the legislature passed resolu. ed, and that the latter should still tions, calling a convention to meet send the same number of members in November, for the purpose of to parliament, though we have Lord forming in whole, or in part, a new Brougham's authority for saying, constitution for the state. This that even " this class of seats had

appears to have been certain practical uses.” It was a adopted from the conviction, that little like this in Rhode Island, the time had come for decisive acGreat changes had taken place since tion. The only serious objection the time when the charter fixed to it could be, that the delegates the number of representatives for were to be elected by the votes of Newport and Portsmouth and War. freemen only, and hence it might wick; and the inequality in the ratio be inferred, that under such circumof representation had become so stances, full and entire reform could great, as to demand a prompt ad- not be expected. We may admit justment, though practically, the this, and still we say, that here is improvement might not be in send

an opportunity by which in time, ing any better men to the legisla. every political wrong may be peaceture.

fully remedied. And surely, the We have now mentioned the only evil of deferring complete redress, real grounds of complaint. In the even for some years, is as nothing, excitement of the contest, many compared with the evil of civil war. other things have been brought for. We take our stand here ; we urge ward as wrongs and grievances; the present opportunity as decisive


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