Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER I.: Of the Constitutions of the United States and of Pennsylvania—Of the Legislative Department. - Collected Works of James Wilson, vol. 2
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
CHAPTER I.: Of the Constitutions of the United States and of Pennsylvania—Of the Legislative Department. - James Wilson, Collected Works of James Wilson, vol. 2 
Collected Works of James Wilson, edited by Kermit L. Hall and Mark David Hall, with an Introduction by Kermit L. Hall, and a Bibliographical Essay by Mark David Hall, collected by Maynard Garrison (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2007). Vol. 2.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The Introduction, Collector’s Foreword, Collector’s Acknowledgments, Annotations, Bibliographical Essay are the copyright of Liberty Fund 2007. The Bibliographical Glossary in volume 2 is reprinted by permission of the copyright holders the President and Fellows of Harvard College 1967.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Of the Constitutions of the United States and of Pennsylvania—Of the Legislative Department.
In my plan, I mentioned, that I would consider our municipal law under two great divisions; that, under the first, I would treat of the law, as it relates to persons; and that, under the second, I would treat of it, as it relates to things. I pursue those two great divisions; and begin with persons.
Persons are divided into two kinds—natural and artificial. Natural persons are formed by the great Author of nature. Artificial persons are the creatures of human sagacity and contrivance; and are framed and intended for the purposes of government and society.
When we contemplate the constitution and the laws of the United States and of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania; the mighty object, which first arrests our attention, is—the people. In the laws of England, as they have been imposed or received during the last seven centuries, the “people” is a title, which has scarcely found a place, or, if it has found a place occasionally, it has attracted but a very disproportionate degree of notice or regard. Of the prerogative of the king, frequent and respectful mention is made: he is considered and represented as the fountain of authority, of honour, of justice, and even of the most important species of property. Of the majesty of the people, little is said in the books of our law. When they are introduced upon the legal stage, they are considered as the body, of which the king is the head, and are viewed as the subjects of his crown and government.
This has not been the case in all countries; it has not been the case in England at all times. It has, indeed, been the case too often and too generally; but the pages of literature will furnish us with a few brilliant exceptions. Of one permit me to take a very particular notice; for of a very particular notice it is highly deserving.
At the mention of Athens, a thousand refined and endearing associations rush immediately into the memory of the scholar, the philosopher, the statesman, and the patriot. When Homer, one of the most correct, as well as the oldest and one of the most respectable, of human authorities, enumerates the other nations of Greece, whose forces acted in the siege of Troy; he arranges them under the names of their different kings: but when he comes to the Athenians, he distinguishes them by the peculiar appellation of “the people”a of Athens.
Let it not surprise you, that I cite Homer as a very respectable authority. That celebrated writer was not more remarkable for the elegance and sublimity, than he was for the truth and precision, of his compositions. The geographer, who could not relish the exquisite beauties of his poetry, felt, however, uncommon satisfaction in ascertaining, by the map, the severe accuracy of his geographical descriptions. But let me mention what is still more to my present purpose and justification. From one of the orations of Aeschines1 it appears highly probable,b that in the Athenian courts of justice, the poems of Homer, as well as the laws of Athens, were always laid upon the table before the judges; and that the clerk was frequently applied to, by the orator, to read passages from the former, as well as from the latter. On the authority of two lines from Homer’s catalogue of the Grecian fleet, was determined a controversy between the Athenians and the inhabitants of Salamis. His immortal poems, like a meteor in the gloom of night, brighten the obscure antiquities of his country?c
By some of the most early accounts, which have been transmitted to us concerning Britain, we are informed, that “the people held the helm of government in their own power.”d This spirit of independence was a ruling principle among the Saxons likewise. Concerning their original, it is both needless and fruitless—I use the expressions of the very learned Seldene —to enter the lists; whether they were natives from the northern parts of Germany, or the relicks of the army under Alexander. But their government, adds he, was, in general, so suitable to that of the Grecians, that it cannot be imagined but much of the Grecian wisdom was derived into those parts. The people were a free people, governed by laws which they themselves made; and, for this reason, they were denominated free. This, he subjoins, was like unto the manner of the Athenians.
The Saxons were called freemen, because they were born free from all yoke of arbitrary power, and from all laws of compulsion, except those which were made by their voluntary consent: for all freemen have votes in making and executing the general laws.f The freedom of a Saxon consisted in the three following particulars. 1. In the ownership of what he had. 2. In voting upon any law, by which his person or property could be affected. 3. In possessing a share in that judiciary power, by which the laws were applied.g
By this time, we clearly perceive the exquisite propriety, historical as well as political, with which the people appear in the foreground of the national constitution and of that of Pennsylvania. “We, the people of the United States, ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.” “We, the people of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, ordain and establish this constitution for its government.”
In free states, the people form an artificial person or body politick, the highest and noblest that can be known. They form that moral person, which, in one of my former lectures,h I described as a complete body of free natural persons, united together for their common benefit; as having an understanding and a will; as deliberating, and resolving, and acting; as possessed of interests which it ought to manage; as enjoying rights which it ought to maintain; and as lying under obligations which it ought to perform. To this moral person, we assign, by way of eminence, the dignified appellation of state.
In discussing the rights and duties of a state, I observed, that it is its right, and that, generally, it is its duty, to form a constitution, to institute civil government, and to establish laws. The general principles, on which constitutions should be formed, government should be instituted, and laws should be established, were treated at large then, and will not be repeated now. It is my present business to trace the application of those principles, as that application has been practically made by the people of the United States, and, in particular, by the people of Pennsylvania.
I mention the people of Pennsylvania in particular; because, in discussing this system, it is necessary that I should select the constitution, and government, and laws of some one of the states in the Union; and because it is natural, for many reasons, that Pennsylvania should be the state, whose constitution, and government, and laws are selected for this discussion. The observations, however, which I shall have occasion to make with regard to Pennsylvania, will, in the greatest number of instances, apply to her sister states, with an equal degree of propriety. Whenever any very striking difference or coincidence shall occur to me, I shall distinguish it by an especial notice.
The people of the United States must be considered attentively in two very different views—as forming one nation, great and united; and as forming, at the same time, a number of separate states, to that nation subordinate, but independent as to their own interiour government. This very important distinction must be continually before our eyes. If it be properly observed, every thing will appear regular and proportioned: if it be neglected, endless confusion and intricacy will unavoidably ensue.
The constitution of the United States is arranged, as we have formerly seen it ought to be, under three great divisions—the legislative department, the executive department, and the judicial department.
The legislative power is divided between two different bodies, a senate, and a house of representatives. The reasons and the importance of this division were explained in a former part of my lectures.i
In discoursing farther concerning the legislature of the United States, I shall regulate myself by the following order. I shall treat, I. of the election of its members; II. of their number; III. of the term, for which they are elected; IV. of the laws, and rules, and powers of the two houses; V. of the manner of passing laws; VI. of the powers of congress.
I. I am first to treat concerning the election of members of congress. Many of the remarks, which I shall make on this subject, will be applicable to the election of members of the general assembly of this commonwealth; for the assembly of Pennsylvania, like the congress of the United States, consists of two bodies, a senate and a house of representatives. Some important articles of discrimination will be noticed in their proper places.
The constitution of the United States and that of Pennsylvania rest solely, and in all their parts, on the great democratical principle of a representation of the people; in other words, of the moral person, known by the name of the state. This great principle necessarily draws along with it the consideration of another principle equally great—the principle of free and equal elections. To maintain, in purity and in vigour, this important principle, whose energy should pervade the most distant parts of the government, is the first duty, and ought to be the first care, of every free state. This is the original fountain, from which all the streams of administration flow. If this fountain is poisoned, the deleterious influence will extend to the remotest corners of the state: if this fountain continues pure and salubrious, the benign operation of its waters will diffuse universal health and soundness.
Let me, by the way, be indulged with repeating a remark, which was made and fully illustrated in a former lecturej —that government, founded solely on representation, made its first appearance on this, and not on the European side of the Atlantick.
Of the science of just and equal government, the progress, as we have formerly seen, has been small and slow. Peculiarly small and slow has it been, in the discovery and improvement of the interesting doctrines of election and representation. If, with regard to other subjects, government may be said, as it has been said, to be still in its infancy; we may, with regard to this subject, consider it as only in its childhood. And yet this is the subject, which must form the basis of every government, that is, at once, efficient, respectable, and free.
The pyramid of government—and a republican government may well receive that beautiful and solid form—should be raised to a dignified altitude: but its foundations must, of consequence, be broad, and strong, and deep. The authority, the interests, and the affections of the people at large are the only foundation, on which a superstructure, proposed to be at once durable and magnificent, can be rationally erected.
Representation is the chain of communication between the people and those, to whom they have committed the exercise of the powers of government. If the materials, which form this chain, are sound and strong, it is unnecessary to be solicitous about the very high degree, to which they are polished. But in order to impart to them the true republican lustre, I know no means more effectual, than to invite and admit the freemen to the right of suffrage, and to enhance, as much as possible, the value of that right. Its value cannot, in truth, be enhanced too highly. It is a right of the greatest import, and of the most improving efficacy. It is a right to choose those, who shall be intrusted with the authority and with the confidence of the people: and who may employ that authority and that confidence for the noblest interests of the commonwealth, without the apprehension of disappointment or control.
This surely must have a powerful tendency to open, to enlighten, to enlarge, and to exalt the mind. I cannot, with sufficient energy, express my own conceptions of the value and the dignity of this right. In real majesty, an independent and unbiassed elector stands superiour to princes, addressed by the proudest titles, attended by the most magnificent retinues, and decorated with the most splendid regalia. Their sovereignty is only derivative, like the pale light of the moon: his is original, like the beaming splendour of the sun.
The benign influences, flowing from the possession and exercise of this right, deserve to be clearly and fully pointed out. I wish it was in my power to do complete justice to the important subject. Hitherto those benign influences have been little understood; they have been less valued; they have been still less experienced. This part of the knowledge and practice of government is yet, as has been observed, in its childhood. Let us, however, nurse and nourish it. In due time, it will repay our care and our labour; for, in due time, it will grow to the strength and stature of a full and perfect man.
The man, who enjoys the right of suffrage, on the extensive scale which is marked by our constitutions, will naturally turn his thoughts to the contemplation of publick men and publick measures. The inquiries he will make, the information he will receive, and his own reflections on both, will afford a beneficial and amusing employment to his mind. I am far from insinuating, that every citizen should be an enthusiast in politicks, or that the interests of himself, his family, and those who depend on him for their comfortable situation in life, should be absorbed in Quixote speculations about the management or the reformation of the state. But there is surely a golden mean in things; and there can be no real incompatibility between the discharge of one’s publick, and that of his private duty. Let private industry receive the warmest encouragement; for it is the basis of publick happiness. But must the bow of honest industry be always bent? At no moment shall a little relaxation be allowed? That relaxation, if properly directed, may prove to be instructive as well as agreeable. It may consist in reading a newspaper, or in conversing with a fellow citizen. May not the newspaper convey some interesting intelligence, or contain some useful essay? May not the conversation take a pleasing and an improving turn? Many hours, I believe, are every where spent, in talking about the unimportant occurrences of the day, or in the neighbourhood; and, perhaps, the frailties or the imperfections of a neighbour form, too often, one of the sweet but poisoned ingredients of the discourse. Would it be any great detriment to society or to individuals, if other characters, and with different views, were more frequently brought upon the carpet?
Under our constitutions, a number of important appointments must be made at every election. To make them is, indeed, the business only of a day. But it ought to be the business of much more than a day, to be prepared for making them well. When a citizen elects to office—let me repeat it—he performs an act of the first political consequence. He should be employed, on every convenient occasion, in making researches after proper persons for filling the different departments of power; in discussing, with his neighbours and fellow citizens, the qualities, which ought to be possessed by those, who enjoy places of publick trust; and in acquiring information, with the spirit of manly candour, concerning the manners and characters of those, who are likely to be candidates for the publick choice.
A habit of conversing and reflecting on these subjects, and of governing his actions by the result of his deliberations, would produce, in the mind of the citizen, a uniform, a strong, and a lively sensibility to the interests of his country. The same causes will effectuate a warm and enlightened attachment to those, who are best fitted, and best disposed, to support and promote those interests. By these means and in this manner, pure and genuine patriotism, that kind, which consists in liberal investigation and disinterested conduct, is produced, cherished, and strengthened in the mind: by these means and in this manner, the warm and generous emotion glows and is reflected from breast to breast.
Investigations of this nature are useful and improving, not to their authors only; they are so to their objects likewise. The love of honest and well earned fame is deeply rooted in honest and susceptible minds. Can there be a stronger incentive to the operations of this passion, than the hope of becoming the object of well founded and distinguishing applause? Can there be a more complete gratification of this passion, than the satisfaction of knowing that this applause is given—that it is given upon the most honourable principles, and acquired by the most honourable pursuits? To souls truly ingenuous, indiscriminate praise, misplaced praise, flattering praise, interested praise have no bewitching charms. But when publick approbation is the result of publick discernment, it must be highly pleasing to those who give, and to those who receive it.
If the foregoing remarks and deductions be just; and I believe they are so; the right of suffrage, properly understood, properly valued, and properly exercised, in a free and well constituted government, is an abundant source of the most rational, the most improving, and the most endearing connexion among the citizens.
All power is originally in the people; and should be exercised by them in person, if that could be done with convenience, or even with little difficulty. In some of the small republicks of Greece, and in the first ages of the commonwealth of Rome, the people voted in their aggregate capacity. Among the ancient Germans also, this was done upon great occasions. “De minoribus consultant principes,” says Tacitus,k “de majoribus omnes:”2 From their practices, some of the finest principles of modern governments are drawn.
But in large states, the people cannot assemble together. As they cannot, therefore, act by themselves, they must act by their representatives. And, indeed, in point of right, there is no difference between that which is done by the people in their own persons, and that which is done by their deputies, acting agreeably to the powers received from them. In point of utility, there is as little difference; for there is no advantage, which may not be obtained from a free and adequate representation, in as effectual a manner, as if every citizen were to deliberate and vote in person.
To the legitimate energy and weight of true representation, two things are essentially necessary. 1. That the representatives should express the same sentiments, which the represented, if possessed of equal information, would express. 2. That the sentiments of the representatives, thus expressed, should have the same weight and influence, as the sentiments of the constituents would have, if expressed personally.
To accomplish the first object, all elections ought to be free. If a man is under no external bias, when he votes for a representative, he will naturally choose such as, he imagines, will, on the several subjects which may come before them, speak and act in the same manner as himself. Every one, who is not the slave of voluntary errour, supposes that his own opinions and sentiments are right: he must likewise suppose, that the sentiments and opinions of those who think with him are right also. Every other man, equally free from bias, will vote with similar views. When, therefore, the votes generally or unanimously centre in the same representatives, it is a satisfactory proof, that the sentiments of the constituents are generally or altogether in unison, with regard to the matters, which, they think, will be brought under the consideration of their representatives; and also, that the sentiments of the representatives will be, with regard to those matters, in unison with those of all, or of a majority of their constituents.
To accomplish the second object, all elections ought to be equal. Elections are equal, when a given number of citizens, in one part of the state, choose as many representatives, as are chosen by the same number of citizens, in any other part of the state. In this manner, the proportion of the representatives and of the constituents will remain invariably the same.
If both the requisites are established and preserved, such counsels will be given, such resolutions will be taken, and such measures will be pursued, by the representative body, as will receive the concurrence, the approbation, and the support of the community at large.
In a free government, it is of essential importance to ascertain the right of suffrage, and those inhabitants who are entitled to the exercise of that right. To vote for members of a legislature, is to perform an act of original sovereignty. No person unqualified should, therefore, be permitted to assume the exercise of such preeminent power. We are told, that, among the Athenians, exquisitely sensible to all the rights of citizenship, a stranger who interfered in the assemblies of the people, was punished with death. Such dangerous interference was considered as a species of treason against their rights of sovereignty.
A momentous question now occurs—who shall be entitled to suffrage? This darling privilege of freemen should certainly be extended as far as considerations of safety and order will possibly admit. The correct theory and the true principles of liberty require, that every citizen, whose circumstances do not render him necessarily dependent on the will of another, should possess a vote in electing those, by whose conduct his property, his reputation, his liberty, and his life, may be all most materially affected.
By the constitution of the United States,l the members of the house of representatives shall be chosen by the people of the several states. The electors, in each state, shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature.
This regulation is generous and wise. It is generous; for it intrusts to the constitutions or to the legislatures of the several states, the very important power of ascertaining and directing the qualifications of those, who shall be entitled to elect the most numerous branch of the national legislature. This unsuspicious confidence evinces, in the national constitution, the most friendly disposition towards the governments of the several states. For how can such a proper disposition be evinced more strongly, than by providing that its legislature, so far as respects the most numerous branch of it, should stand upon the same foundation with theirs; and by providing farther, that this foundation should be continued or altered by the states themselves?
This regulation is wise as well as generous. An attention to its genuine principle and tendency must have a strong effect, in preventing or destroying the seeds of jealousy, which might otherwise spring up, with regard to the genius and views of the national government. It has embarked itself on the same bottom with the governments of the different states: can a stronger proof be given of its determination to sink or swim with them? Can proof be given of a stronger desire to live in mutual harmony and affection? This is an object of the last importance; for, to adopt an expression used by my Lord Bacon, “the uniting of the hearts and affections of the people is the life and true end of this work.”m
The remarks which I have made on this subject place, in a clear and striking point of view, the propriety, and indeed the political necessity, of a regulation made in another part of this constitution. In the fourth section of the fourth article it is provided, that, “the United States shall guaranty to every state in this Union a republican form of government.” Its own existence, as a government of this description, depends on theirs.
As the doctrine concerning elections and the qualifications of electors is, in every free country, a doctrine of the first magnitude; and as the national constitution has, with regard to this doctrine, rested itself on the governments of the several states; it will be highly proper to take a survey of those provisions, which, on a subject so interesting, have been made by the different state constitutions: for every state has justly deemed the subject to be of constitutional importance.
In the constitution of Pennsylvania, the great principle, which animates and governs this subject, is secured by an explicit declaration, that “elections shall be free and equal.”n This is enumerated among the great points, which are “excepted out of the general powers of government, and shall for ever remain inviolate.”o The practical operation of this great and inviolable principle is thus specified and directed: “In elections by the citizens, every freeman of the age of twenty one years, having resided in the state two years next before the election, and within that time paid a state or county tax, which shall have been assessed at least six months before the election, shall enjoy the rights of an elector.”p
It well deserves, in this place, to be remarked, how congenial, upon this great subject, the principles of the constitution of Pennsylvania are to those adopted by the government of the Saxons. The Saxon freemen, as we have already seen, had votes in making their general laws.q The freemen of Pennsylvania, as we now see, enjoy the rights of electors. This right, it has been shown, is equivalent, and, in a state of any considerable extent, must, on every principle of order and convenience, be substituted to the other. This is far from being the only instance, in which we shall have the pleasure of finding the old Saxon maxims of government renewed in the American constitutions. Particular attention will be paid to them, as they present themselves.
By the constitution of New Hampshire, “every male inhabitant, with town privileges, of twenty one years of age, paying for himself a poll tax, has a right to vote, in the town or parish wherein he dwells, in the election of representatives.”r
In Massachussetts, this right is, under the constitution, enjoyed by “every male person, being twenty one years of age, and resident in any particular town in the commonwealth for the space of one year next preceding, having a freehold estate within the same town, of the annual income of three pounds, or any estate of the value of sixty pounds.” Every one so qualified may “vote in the choice of a representative for the said town.”s
The right to choose representatives in Rhode Island is vested in “the freemen of the respective towns or places.” This regulation is specified in the charter of Charles the second. The state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations has not assumed a form of government different from that, which is contained in the abovementioned charter.t
The qualifications requisite, in the state of Connecticut, to entitle a person to vote at elections, are, maturity in years, quiet and peaceable behaviour, a civil conversation, and forty shillings freehold, or forty pounds personal estate: if the selectmen of the town certify a person qualified in those respects, he is admitted a freeman, on his taking an oath of fidelity to the state.u
It ought to be observed, by the way, that this power to admit persons to be freemen, or to exclude them from being freemen, according to the sentiments which others entertain concerning their conversation and behaviour, is a power of a very extraordinary nature; and is certainly capable of being exercised for very extraordinary purposes.
The constitution of New York ordains, “that every male inhabitant of full age, who shall have personally resided within one of the counties of the state, for six months immediately preceding the day of election, shall, at such election, be entitled to vote for representatives of the said county in assembly; if during the time aforesaid he shall have been a freeholder, possessing a freehold of the value of twenty pounds, within the said county, or have rented a tenement therein of the yearly value of forty shillings; and been rated and actually paid taxes to the state.”v
“All inhabitants of New Jersey, of full age, who are worth fifty pounds, proclamation money, clear estate within that government, and have resided within the county, in which they shall claim a vote, for twelve months immediately preceding the election, shall be entitled to vote for representatives in assembly.”w
The right of suffrage is not specified in the constitution of Delaware; but it is provided, that, in the election of members of the legislature, it “shall remain as exercised by law at present.”x
In Maryland, “all freemen above twenty one years of age, having a free-hold of fifty acres of land in the county, in which they offer to vote, and residing therein; and all freemen having property in the state above the value of thirty pounds current money, and having resided in the county, in which they offer to vote, one whole year next preceding the election, shall have a right of suffrage in the election of delegates for such county.”y
We find, in the constitution of Virginia, no specification of the right of suffrage: it is declared, however, that this right shall remain as it was exercised at the time when that constitution was made.z
It is provided by the constitution of North Carolina, “that all freemen of the age of twenty one years, who have been inhabitants of any county within the state twelve months immediately preceding the day of any election, and shall have paid publick taxes, shall be entitled to vote for members of the house of commons, for the county in which they reside.”a
According to the constitution of South Carolina, “every free white man, of the age of twenty one years, being a citizen of the state, and having resided in it two years previous to the day of election, and who has a freehold of fifty acres of land, or a town lot, of which he hath been legally seized and possessed at least six months before such election, or, not having such freehold or lot, has resided within the election district, in which he offers to give his vote, six months before the election, and has, the preceding year, paid a tax of three shillings sterling towards the support of government, shall have a right to vote for members of the house of representatives for the election district, in which he holds such property, or is so resident.”b
I am not possessed of the present constitution of Georgia. By its late constitution, it was provided, that “all male white inhabitants, of the age of twenty one years, and possessed, in their own right, of ten pounds value, and liable to pay tax in the state, or being of any mechanick trade, and shall have been a resident six months in the state, shall have a right to vote at all elections forc representatives.”d
From the foregoing enumeration—its length and its minuteness will be justified by its importance—from the foregoing enumeration of the provisions, which have been made, in the several states, concerning the right of suffrage, we are well warranted, I think, in drawing this broad and general inference—that, in the United States, this right is extended to every freeman, who, by his residence, has given evidence of his attachment to the country, who, by having property, or by being in a situation to acquire property, possesses a common interest with his fellow citizens; and who is not in such uncomfortable circumstances, as to render him necessarily dependent, for his subsistence, on the will of others.
By the same enumeration, we are enabled, with conscious pleasure, to view and to display the close approximation, which, on this great subject, the constitutions of the American States have made, to what we have already seen to be the true principles and the correct theory of freedom.
Again; the same enumeration places in the strongest and most striking light, the wisdom and the generous confidence, which rested one of the principal pillars of the national government upon the foundation prepared for it by the governments of the several states.
With this sentiment I began—with this sentiment I conclude my remarks concerning the qualifications required from those, who elect the house of representatives of the United States.
We now proceed to examine the qualifications required from those, who are elected to that dignified trust.
1. A representative must have attained the age of twenty five years.e
It is amusing enough to consider the different ages, at which persons have been deemed qualified or disqualified for different purposes, both in private and in publick life.
A woman, as we learn from my Lord Coke and others, has seven ages for several purposes appointed to her by the law. At seven years of age, her father, if a feudal superiour, was entitled to demand from his vassals an aid to marry her: at nine, she may have dower: at twelve, she may consent to marriage: at fourteen, she may choose a guardian: at sixteen, marriage might be tendered to her by her lord: at seventeen, she may act as executrix: at twenty one, she may alienate her lands and goods.f A man, also, has different ages assigned to him for different purposes. At twelve years of age, he was formerly obliged to take the oath of allegiance: at fourteen, he can consent to marriage: at the same age he can choose his guardian: at twenty one, he may convey his personal and real estate.g
The foregoing are the different ages allowed for different purposes in private life. In publick life, there has, with regard to age, been a similar variety of assignments; the reasons of some of which it is hard to conjecture; for the propriety of others, it is equally hard to account.
In the government of the United States, it is supposed, that no one is fit to be a member of the house of representatives, till he is twenty five years of age; to be a senator, till he is thirty;h to be a president, till he is thirty five.i
The duration assigned by nature to human life is often complained of as very short: that assigned to it by some politicians is much shorter. For some political purposes, a man cannot breathe before he numbers thirty five years: as to other political purposes, his breath is extinguished the moment he reaches sixty. By the constitution of New York,j “the chancellor, the judges of the supreme court, and the first judge of the county court in every county, hold their offices—until they shall respectively have attained the age of sixty years.”
How differently is the same object viewed at different times and in different countries! In New York, a man is deemed unfit for the first offices of the state after he is sixty: in Sparta, a man was deemed unfit for the first offices of the state till he was sixty. Till that age, no one was entitled to a seat in the senate, the highest honour of the chiefs.k How convenient it would be, if a politician possessed the power, so finely exercised by the most beautiful of poets! Virgil3 could, with the greatest ease imaginable, bring Aeneas and Dido together; though, in fact, some centuries elapsed between the times, in which they lived. Why cannot some politician, by the same or some similar enchanting art, produce an ancient and a modern government as cotemporaries? The effect would be admirable. The moment that a gentleman of sixty would be disqualified from retaining his seat as a judge of New York, he would be qualified for taking his seat as a senator of Sparta.
2. Before one can be a representative, he must have been seven years a citizen of the United States.l
Two reasons may be assigned for this provision. 1. That the constituents might have a full and mature opportunity of knowing the character and merit of their representative. 2. That the representative might have a full and mature opportunity of knowing the dispositions and interests of his constituents.
3. The representative must, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state, in which he is chosen.m
The qualification of residence we have found to be universally insisted on with regard to those who elect: here the same qualification is insisted on with regard to those who are elected. The same reasons, which operated in favour of the former qualification, operate with equal, indeed, with greater force, in favour of this. A provision, almost literally the same with the present one, was made in England three centuries and a half ago. By a statute made in the first year of Henry the fifth, it was enacted, that “the knights of the shires, which from henceforth shall be chosen in every shire, be not chosen, unless they be resident within the shire where they shall be chosen, the day of the date of the writ of the summons of the parliament”—“And moreover it is ordained and established, that the citizens and burgesses of the cities and boroughs be chosen men, citizens and burgesses, resiant, dwelling, and free in the same cities and boroughs, and no other in any wise.”n To this moment, this statute continues unrepealed—a melancholy proof, how far degenerate and corrupted manners will overpower the wisest and most wholesome laws. From Sir Bulstrode Whitlocke4 we learn, that, above a century ago, noncompliance with this statute was “connived at.”o The statute itself has been long and openly disregarded. The consequences of this disregard may be seen in the present state of the representation in England.
Thus far concerning the election of the house of representatives, and the qualifications of the members and of the electors. It remains to speak concerning the election and the qualifications of the senators.
The senators are chosen by the legislatures of the several states. Every senator must have attained to the age of thirty years; he must have been nine years a citizen of the United States; and he must, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state, for which he shall be chosen.p
Some have considered the senators as immediately representing the sovereignty, while the members of the other house immediately represent the people, of the several states. This opinion is founded on a doctrine which I considered and, I believe, refuted very fully in a former lecture:q the doctrine is this—that the legislative power is the supreme power of the state. The supreme power I showed to reside in the people.
By the constitution of the United States, the people have delegated to the several legislatures the choice of senators, while they have retained in their own hands the choice of representatives. It would be unwise, however, to infer from this, that either the dignity or the importance of the senate is inferiour to the dignity or the importance of the house of representatives. One may intrust to another the management of an equal or even superiour business, while he chooses to transact personally a business of an equal or even an inferiour kind.
Between the senate of the United States, and that of Pennsylvania, there is one remarkable point of difference, of which it will be proper, in this place, to take particular notice. According to the constitution of the United States, two senators are chosen by the legislature of each state: while the members of the house of representatives are chosen by the people. According to the constitution of Pennsylvania,r the senators are chosen by the citizens of the state, at the same time, in the same manner, and at the same place where they shall vote for representatives.
To choose the senators by the same persons, by whom the members of the house of representatives are chosen, is, we are told, to lose the material distinction, and, consequently, all the benefits which would result from the material distinction, between the two branches of the legislature.
If this, indeed, should be the necessary consequence of electing both branches by the same persons; the objection, it is confessed, would operate with a force irresistible. But many and strong reasons, we think, may be assigned, why all the advantages, to be expected from two branches of a legislature, may be gained and preserved, though those two branches derive their authority from precisely the same source.
A point of honour will arise between them. The esprit du corps will soon be introduced. The principle, and direction, and aim of this spirit will, we presume, be of the best and purest kind in the two houses. They will be rivals in duty, rivals in fame, rivals for the good graces of their common constituents.
Each house will be cautious, and careful, and circumspect, in those proceedings, which, they know, must undergo the strict and severe criticism of judges, whose inclination will lead them, and whose duty will enjoin them, not to leave a single blemish unnoticed or uncorrected. After all the caution, all the care, and all the circumspection, which can be employed, strict and severe criticism, led by inclination and enjoined by duty, will find something to notice and correct. Hence a double source of information, precision, and sagacity in planning, digesting, composing, comparing, and finishing the laws, both in form and substance. Every bill will, in some one or more steps of its progress, undergo the keenest scrutiny. Its relations, whether near or more remote, to the principles of freedom, jurisprudence, and the constitution will be accurately examined: and its effects upon the laws already existing will be maturely traced. In this manner, rash measures, violent innovations, crude projects, and partial contrivances will be stifled in the attempt to bring them forth. These effects of mutual watchfulness and mutual control between the two houses, will redound to the honour of each, and to the security and advantage of the state.
The very circumstance of sitting in separate houses will be the cause of emulous and active separate exertion. The era, when the commons of England met in an apartment by themselves, is, with reason, considered, by many writers, as a memorable era in the history of English liberty. “After the formation of the two houses of parliament,” says Mr. Millar,5 in his historical view of the English constitution,s “each of them came to be possessed of certain peculiar privileges; which, although probably the objects of little attention in the beginning, have since risen to great political importance. The house of commons obtained the sole power of bringing in money bills.” This subject will, by and by, come under our more immediate view.
Rivals for character, as we have seen the two houses to be, they will be rivals in all pursuits, by which character can be acquired, established, and exalted. To these laudable pursuits the crown of success will best be obtained, by vigour and alacrity in the discharge of the business committed to their care.
A difference in the posts assigned to the two houses, and in the number and duration of their members, will produce a difference in their sense of the duties required and expected from them. The house of representatives, for instance, form the grand inquest of the state. They will diligently inquire into grievances, arising both from men and things. Their commissions will commence or be renewed at short distances of time. Their sentiments, and views, and wishes, and even their passions, will have received a deep and recent tincture from the sentiments, and views, and wishes, and passions of their constituents. Into their counsels, and resolutions, and measures, this tincture will be strongly transfused. They will know the evils which exist, and the means of removing them: they will know the advantages already discovered, and the means of increasing them. As the term of their commission and trust will soon expire, they will be desirous, while it lasts, of seeing the publick business put, at least, in a train of accomplishment. From all these causes, a sufficient number of overtures and propositions will originate in the house of representatives. These overtures and propositions will come, in their proper course, before the senate. Those, which shall appear premature, will be postponed till a more convenient season. Those, which shall appear crude, will be properly digested and formed. Those, which shall appear to be calculated upon too narrow a scale, will be enlarged in their operation and extent. Those, which shall appear to be dictated by local views, inconsistent with the general welfare, will be either rejected altogether, or altered in such a manner, as that the interest of the whole shall not be sacrificed, or rendered subservient, to the interest of a part.
Articles of information, detached and seemingly unconnected, introduced by the house of representatives, at different times, from different places, with different motives, and for different purposes, will, in the senate, be collected, compared, methodised, and consolidated. Under their plastick hands, those materials will be employed in forming systems and laws, for the prosperity and happiness of the commonwealth.
If, at any time, the passions or prejudices of the people should be ill directed or too strong; and the house of representatives should meet, too highly charged with the transfusion; it will be the business and the duty of the senate to allay the fervour; and, before it shall give a sanction to the bills or resolutions of the other house, to introduce into them the requisite ingredients of mildness and moderation.
Extremes, on one hand, are often the forerunners of extremes on the other. If a benumbing torpor should appear in the body politick, after the effects of violent convulsions have subsided; and if the contagious apathy should spread itself over the house of representatives; it will then become the business and the duty of the senate, to infuse into the publick councils and publick measures the proper portion of life, activity, and vigour.
In seasons of prosperity, it will become the care of the senate to temper the extravagance, or repress the insolence, of publick joy. In seasons of adversity, the senate will be employed in administering comfort and cure to the publick despondency.
In fine; the senate will consider itself, and will be considered by the people, as the balance wheel in the great machine of government; calculated and designed to retard its movements, when they shall be too rapid, and to accelerate them, when they shall be too slow.
These reflections, which seem to arise naturally from the subject before us, will, we hope, be sufficient to convince you, that the most beneficial purposes may be rationally expected from the senate of Pennsylvania, though the senators, as well as the members of the house of representatives, be elected immediately by the citizens of the commonwealth.
Another circumstance, not yet mentioned, deserves to be added to this account. The districts for the election of senators, are to be formed by the legislature. In forming those districts, the legislature are empowered to include in them such a number of taxable inhabitants as shall be entitled to elect four senators.t An enlarged and judicious exercise of this power will have a strong tendency to increase the dignity and usefulness of the senate. It may, I believe, be assumed as a general maxim, of no small importance in democratical governments, that the more extensive the district of election is, the choice will be the more wise and enlightened. Intrigue and cunning are the bane of elections by the people, who are unsuspicious, because they are undesigning: but intrigue and cunning are most dangerous, because they are most successful, in a contracted sphere.
II. I am now to consider the number of members of which the legislature of the United States consists.
The representatives are apportioned among the several states according to their numbers. The number of representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand.u The senate shall be composed of two senators from each state.v
The Union consists now of fourteen, and will soon consist of fifteen states. Of consequence, the senate is composed now of twenty eight, and will be composed soon of thirty members.
A census of the United States has been taken, agreeably to the constitution, and the returns of that census are nearly completed. By these it appears, that, allowing one representative for every thirty thousand returned on the census, the house of representatives will consist of one hundred and twelve members.w
Every one has heard of the saying of the famous Cardinal de Retz6 —that every publick assembly, consisting of more than one hundred members, was a mere mob. It is not improbable, that the Cardinal drew his conclusion from what he had seen and experienced. He lived in a turbulent season; and, in that turbulent season, was distinguished as a most turbulent actor. Of consequence, he was much conversant with mere mobs. But surely no good reason can be given, why the number one hundred should form the precise boundary, on one side of which, order may be preserved, and on the other side of which, confusion must unavoidably prevail. The political qualities of publick bodies, it is, in all likelihood, impossible to ascertain and distinguish with such numerical exactness. Besides; the publick bodies, most celebrated for the decency and dignity, as well as for the importance, of their proceedings, have far exceeded, in number, the bounds prescribed by the Cardinal for the existence of those respectable qualities: witness the senate of Rome, and the parliament of Great Britain.
There is, however, with regard to this point, an extreme on one hand, as well as on the other. The number of a deliberative body may be too great, as well as too small. In a great and a growing country, no precise number could, with propriety, be fixed by the constitution. A power, in some measure discretionary, was, therefore, necessarily given to the legislature, to direct that number from time to time. If the spirit of the constitution be observed in other particulars, it will not be violated in this.
III. I proceed, in the third place, to treat of the term, for which the members of the national legislature are chosen.
In the greatest part of the states, the members of the most numerous branch of their legislature are chosen annually; in some, every half year. The members of the least numerous branch are generally chosen for a longer term. By the constitution of the United States,x the members of the house of representatives are chosen “every second year.”
When we consider the nature and the extent of the general government, we shall be satisfied, I apprehend, that biennial elections are as well proportioned to it, as annual elections are proportioned to the individual states, and half yearly elections to some of the smallest of them.
The senators of the United States are chosen for six years; but are so classed, that the seats of one third part of them are vacated at the expiration of every second year; so that one third part may be chosen every second year.y
In Pennsylvania, the senators are chosen for four years; but are so classed, that the seats of one fourth part of them are vacated at the expiration of every year; so that one fourth part may be chosen every year.z
The intention, in assigning different limitations to the terms, for which the members of the different houses are chosen, and in establishing a rotation in the senate, is obviously to obtain and secure the different qualities, by which a legislature ought to be distinguished. These qualities are, stability, consistency, and minute information. All these qualities may be expected, in some degree, from each house; but not in equal proportions. For minute information, the principal reliance will be placed on the house of representatives; because that house is the most numerous; and because its members are most frequently chosen. The qualities of stability and consistency will be expected chiefly from the senate; because the senators continue longer in office; and because only a part of them can be changed at any one time.
IV. I proceed to treat concerning the laws, and rules, and powers of the two houses of congress.
The parliament of Great Britain has its peculiar law; a law, says my Lord Coke,a with which few are acquainted, but which deserves to be investigated by all. The maxims, however, upon which the parliament proceeds, are not, it seems, defined and ascertained by any particular stated law: they rest entirely in the breast of the parliament itself. The dignity and independence of the two houses, we are told, are preserved, in a great measure, by keeping their privileges indefinite.b
Very different is the case with regard to the legislature of the United States, and to that of Pennsylvania. The great maxims, upon which our law of parliament is founded, are defined and ascertained in our constitutions. The arcana of privilege, and the arcana of prerogative, are equally unknown to our system of jurisprudence.
By the constitution of the United States,c each house of the legislature shall be the judge of the qualifications and returns, and also of the elections, of its own members. By the constitution of Pennsylvania,d each house shall judge of the qualifications of its members: but contested elections shall be determined by a committee to be selected, formed, and regulated in such manner as shall be directed by law. With regard to this subject, the constitution of Pennsylvania has, I think, improved upon that of the United States. Contested elections, when agitated in the house itself, occasion much waste of time, and, too often, a considerable degree of animosity among the members. These inconveniences will be, in a great measure, avoided by the proceedings and decision of a committee, directed and governed by a standing law.
It is proper, in this place, to take notice, that the house of representatives in congress have appointed a standing committee of elections. It is the duty of this committee, to examine the certificates of election, or other credentials of the members returned; to take into their consideration every thing referred to them concerning returns and elections; and to report their opinions and proceedings to the house.e
In the United States and in Pennsylvania, the legislature has a right to sit upon its own adjournments: but neither house shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other place, than that in which the two houses shall be sitting.f In England, the sole right of convening, proroguing, and dissolving the parliament forms a part, and, obviously, a very important part, of the prerogative of the king.g Here we discover, in our new constitutions, another renovation of the old Saxon customs. The original meetings of the wittenagemote in England were held regularly at two seasons of the year; at the end of spring, and at the beginning of autumn.h Afterwards there came to be two sorts of wittenagemote; one held by custom, and at the stated periods; the other called occasionally,i and by a special summons from the king. Under the princes of the Norman and Plantagenet lines, the ancient and regular meetings of the national legislature were more and more disregarded. The consequence was, that, in progress of time, the whole of the parliamentary business was transacted in extraordinary meetings, which were called at the pleasure of the sovereign.jPrincipiis obsta.7 In consequence of acquiring the power to call the parliament together, that of putting a negative upon its meetings, in other words, of proroguing or dissolving it, was, in all cases, vested in the crown.k
The constitution of the United States provides,l that the senators and representatives shall, in all cases, except treason, felony, and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of their respective houses, and in going to and returning from them. The constitution of Pennsylvaniam contains a similar provision, excepting in one particular. The members are not entitled to privilege, if their conduct has been such, as to give reasonable cause of fear that they will break the peace; in the same manner as they are not entitled to it, if, by their conduct, the peace has been actually broken. This necessary privilege has continued substantially the same, since the time of the Saxons. The grand assembly of the wittenagemote, as we are told by Mr. Selden, was holden sacred; and all the members were under the publick faith, both in going and coming, unless the party were fur probatus.8 This privilege of safe pass, being thus ancient and fundamental, and not by any law taken away, resteth still in force.n
The members of the national legislature, and those also of the legislature of Pennsylvania, shall not, for any speech or debate in either house, be questioned in any other placed.o In England, the freedom of speech is, at the opening of every new parliament, particularly demanded of the king in person, by the speaker of the house of commons.p The liberal provision, which is made, by our constitutions, upon this subject, may be justly viewed as a very considerable improvement in the science and the practice of government. In order to enable and encourage a representative of the publick to discharge his publick trust with firmness and success, it is indispensably necessary, that he should enjoy the fullest liberty of speech, and that he should be protected from the resentment of every one, however powerful, to whom the exercise of that liberty may occasion offence.
When it is mentioned, that the members shall not be questioned in any other place; the implication is strong, that, for their speeches in either house, they may be questioned and censured by that house, in which they are spoken. Besides; each house, both in the United States and in Pennsylvania, has an express power given it to “punish its members for disorderly behaviour.”q Under the protection of privilege, to use indecency or licentiousness of language, in the course of debate, is disorderly behaviour, of a kind peculiarly base and ungentlemanly.
Each house may not only punish, but, with the concurrence of two thirds, it may expel a member.r This regulation is adopted by the constitution of Pennsylvania:s “but,” it is added, “not a second time for the same cause.” The reason for the addition evidently is—that the member, who has offended, cannot be an object of a second expulsion, unless, since the offence given and punished by the first expulsion, he has been either reelected by his former constituents, or elected by others. In both cases, his election is a proof, that, in the opinion of his constituents, he either has not offended at all, or has been already sufficiently punished for his offence. The language of each opinion is, that he ought not to be expelled again: and the language of the constituents is a law to the house.
Each house may determine the rules of its proceedings. This power is given, in precisely the same terms, by the constitution of the United States, and by that of Pennsylvania.t Its propriety is selfevident.
The constitution of the United States directs,u that each house shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and, from time to time, publish them, except such parts as may require secrecy: it directs further, that the yeas and nays of the members of either house, on any question, shall, at the desire of one fifth of those present, be entered on the journal. The constitution of Pennsylvaniav goes still further upon these points: it directs, that the journals shall be published weekly; that the yeas and nays shall be entered on them, at the desire of any two members; and that the doors of each house, and of committees of the whole, shall be open, unless when the business shall be such as ought to be kept secret.
That the conduct and proceedings of representatives should be as open as possible to the inspection of those whom they represent, seems to be, in republican government, a maxim, of whose truth or importance the smallest doubt cannot be entertained. That, by a necessary consequence, every measure, which will facilitate or secure this open communication of the exercise of delegated power, should be adopted and patronised by the constitution and laws of every free state, seems to be another maxim, which is the unavoidable result of the former. For these reasons, I feel myself necessarily and unavoidably led to consider the additional regulations made, upon this subject, by the constitution of Pennsylvania, as improvements upon those made by the constitution of the United States. The regulation—that the doors of each house, and of committees of the whole, shall be open—I view as an improvement highly beneficial both in its nature and in its consequences—both to the representatives and to their constituents. “In the house of commons,” says Sir William Blackstone, “the conduct of every member is subject to the future censure of his constituents, and therefore should be openly submitted to their inspection.”w But I forbear to enter more largely into this interesting topick.
The house of representatives in congress shall choose their speaker and other officers.x The like provision is made by the constitution of Pennsylvania,y with respect to both houses of the general assembly.
The speaker of the house of commons cannot give his opinion, nor can he argue any question in the house.z From this view of the matter, one would be apt to imagine, that as the Latins assigned to a grove the name of lucus, a non lucendo,9 so the English distinguished the first officer of the house of commons by the appellation of speaker, because, by the rules of that house, he could say neither yes nor no. But if we trace things to their origin, we shall be led to discover the reason of this denomination.
The first mode of passing a bill through parliament was by a petition to the king. This petition represented the grievance or inconvenience, concerning which complaint was made, and requested that it should be removed. When a petition was offered by the commons, after they sat in a separate house, it was necessary to appoint some person to intimate their views and wishes to the king. This person, chosen by themselves, and approved by the king, whom they would not address by the mouth of a person disagreeable to him, was denominated their speaker.a
To discharge this part of his duty in the dignified, and, at the same time, in the respectful manner, in which it ought to be discharged, was frequently considered as a business of a very arduous nature. It will not be unentertaining, to learn, from one of the speakers of the house of commons, the qualities, which, in his opinion, were necessary for the proper performance of the speaker’s office.
“Whence,” said Serjeant Yelverton,10 “your unexpected choice of me to be your mouth or speaker should proceed, I am utterly ignorant. Neither from my person nor nature doth this choice arise: for he that supplieth this place ought to be a man big and comely, stately and well spoken, his voice great, his carriage majestical, his nature haughty. But, contrarily, the stature of my body is small, myself not so well spoken, my voice low, my carriage lawyerlike and of the common fashion, my nature soft and bashful. If Demosthenes, being so learned and so eloquent as he was, trembled to speak before Phocion11 at Athens; how much more shall I, being unlearned and unskilful, supply this place of dignity, to speak before the unspeakable majesty and sacred personage of our dread and dear sovereign, the terrour of whose countenance” (he speaks of Queen Elizabeth) “will appal and abase even the stoutest heart.”b
All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the house of representatives; but the senate may propose amendments as in other bills. This provision is common to the United States and Pennsylvania.c
In a former lecture,d this subject was considered under one aspect, under which it then made its appearance. It now claims consideration in other respects: and ought to be examined with a greater degree of minuteness.
In England, all grants of aids by parliament begin in the house of commons. Of that house, this is an ancient,e and, now, an indisputable privilege. With regard to it, the commons are so jealous, that, over money bills, they will not suffer the other house to exert any powers, except simply those of concurrence or rejection. From the lords, no alteration or amendment will be received on this delicate subject. The constitutions of the United States and Pennsylvania have, on this head, adopted the parliamentary law of England in part; but they have not adopted it altogether. They have directed, that money bills shall originate in the house of representatives; but they have directed also, that the senate may propose amendments in these, as well as in other bills. It will be proper to investigate the reasons of each part of the direction. This will best be done by tracing the matter historically, and attending to the difference between the institution of the house of lords in England, and that of the senates of the United States and Pennsylvania.
During a considerable time after the establishment of the house of commons as a separate branch of the legislature, it appears, that the members of that house were, with regard to taxes and assessments, governed altogether by the instructions, which they received from their constituents. Each county and borough seems to have directed its representatives, concerning the amount of the rates to which they might give their assent. By adding together the sums contained in those particular directions, it was easy to ascertain, in the house of commons, the sum total, which the commonalty of the kingdom were willing to grant. To the extent of this sum, the commons conceived themselves empowered and directed to go; but no farther.
According to this mode of proceeding, the imposition of taxes produced no interchange of communication between the two houses of parliament. To introduce a money bill, or an amendment to a money bill, into the house of lords—to deliberate upon the bill or amendment in that house—after agreeing to it there, to submit it to the deliberation of the house of commons—all this would have been perfectly nugatory. Let us suppose, that the bill or amendment had undergone the most full and careful examination in the house of lords, who, acting only for themselves, could examine it under every aspect, unfettered by exteriour direction and control: let us suppose it then transmitted to the house of commons, for their concurrence: what could the house of commons do? They could not deliberate upon the bill or the amendment: they could only compare it with their instructions: if they found it consistent with them, they could give, if inconsistent, they must refuse, their consent. The only course, therefore, in which this business could be transacted, was, that the commons should begin by mentioning the sum, which they were empowered to grant, and that what they proposed should be sent to the house of lords, who, upon all the circumstances, might deliberate and judge for themselves.f
In this manner, and for these reasons, the house of commons became possessed of this important privilege, which is now justly regarded by them, as one of the strongest pillars of their freedom and power. Once possessed of this privilege, they were far from relinquishing it, when the first reasons for its possession had ceased. Other reasons, stronger than the first, succeeded to them. In the flux of time and things, the revenue and influence of the crown became so great, and the property of the peerage, considered with relation to the general property of the kingdom, became comparatively so small, that it was judged unwise to permit that body to model, or even to alter, the general system of taxation. This is the aspect, under which this subject was viewed in the lecture, to which I have alluded; and I will not repeat now what was observed then.
From this short historical deduction, it appears, that the provision, which we now consider, is far from being so important here, as it is in England. In the United States and in Pennsylvania, both houses of the legislature draw their authority, either immediately, or, at least, not remotely, from the same common fountain. In England, one of the houses acts entirely in its private and separate right.
But though this regulation is by no means so necessary here, as it is in England; yet it may have its use, so far as it has been adopted into our constitutions. Our houses of representatives are much more numerous than our senates: the members of the former are chosen much more frequently, than are the members of the latter. For these reasons, an information more local and minute may be expected in the houses of representatives, than can be expected in the senates. This minute and local information will be of service, in suggesting and in collecting materials for the laws of revenue. After those materials are collected and prepared, the wisdom and the patriotism of both houses will be employed in forming them into a proper system.
The house of representatives shall have the sole power of impeaching. All impeachments shall be tried by the senate. These regulations are found both in the constitution of the United Statesg and in that of Pennsylvania.h
The doctrine of impeachments is of high import in the constitutions of free states. On one hand, the most powerful magistrates should be amenable to the law: on the other hand, elevated characters should not be sacrificed merely on account of their elevation. No one should be secure while he violates the constitution and the laws: every one should be secure while he observes them.
Impeachments were known in Athens. They were prosecuted for great and publick offences, by which the commonwealth was brought into danger. They were not referred to any court of justice, but were prosecuted before the popular assembly, or before the senate of five hundred.i
Among the ancient Germans also, we discover the traces of impeachments: for we are informed by Tacitus, in his masterly account of the manners of that people,j that it was allowed to present accusations, and to prosecute capital offences, before the general assembly of the nation.
An impeachment is described, by the law of England, to be, a presentment to the most high and supreme court of criminal jurisdiction, by the most solemn grand inquest of the kingdom.k
It is evident that, in England, impeachments, according to this description, could not exist before the separation of the two houses of parliament. Previous to that era, the national council was accustomed to inquire into the conduct of the different executive officers, and to punish them for malversation in office, or what are called high misdemeanors. The king himself was not exempted from such inquiry and punishment: for it had not yet become a maxim—that the king can do no wrong.
Prosecutions of this nature were not, like those of ordinary crimes, intrusted to the management of an individual: they were conducted by the national council themselves; who acted, improperly enough, in the double character of accusers and judges. Upon the separation of the two houses, it became an obvious improvement, that the power of trying those high misdemeanors should belong to the house of lords, and that the power of conducting the prosecution should belong to the house of commons. In consequence of this improvement, the inconsistent characters of judge and accuser were no longer acted by the same body.l
We find the commons appearing as the grand inquest of the nation, about the latter end of the reign of Edward the third. They then began to exhibit accusations for crimes and misdemeanors, against offenders who were thought to be out of the reach of the ordinary power of the law. In the fiftieth year of that reign, they preferred impeachments against many delinquents. These impeachments were tried by the lords.m
In the United States and in Pennsylvania, impeachments are confined to political characters, to political crimes and misdemeanors, and to political punishments. The president, vice president, and all civil officers of the United States; the governour and all other civil officers under this commonwealth, are liable to impeachment; the officers of the United States, for treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors; the officers of this commonwealth, for any misdemeanor in office. Under both constitutions, judgments, in cases of impeachment, shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold any office of honour, trust, or profit.n
Thus much concerning the laws, and rules, and powers of the two houses of the congress of the United States, and concerning those of the two houses of the general assembly of Pennsylvania.
V. I next consider the manner of passing laws.
To laws properly made, the following things are of indispensable necessity—information—caution—perspicuity—precision—sagacity—conciseness. For obtaining those valuable objects, different states have adopted different regulations. It will be worth while to bestow some attention upon the most remarkable among them.
At Athens, laws were made according to the following very deliberate process. When any citizen had conceived any plan, which, he thought, would promote the interests of the commonwealth, he communicated it to certain officers, whose duty it was to receive information of every thing which concerned the publick. These officers laid the plan before the senate. If it appeared to the senate to be pernicious or useless, they rejected it. If otherwise, they agreed to it; and it then became what we may call a bill, or overture. It was written on a white tablet, and fixed up in a publick place, some days before the meeting of the general assembly of the people. This was done, that the citizens might have an opportunity of reading and forming a deliberate judgment, concerning what was to be proposed to them for their determination. When the assembly met, the bill was read to them; and every citizen had a right to speak his sentiments with regard to it. If, after due consultation, it was thought inconvenient or improper, a negative was put upon it: if, on the contrary, the people approved of it, it was passed into a law.
We are informed, that no one, without much caution and a perfect acquaintance with the constitution and former laws, would presume to propose a new regulation; because the danger was very great, if it proved unsuitable to the customs and inclinations of the people.o
With all these numerous precautions, so many obscure and contradictory laws were gradually introduced into the Athenian code, that a special commission was established to make a selection among them. The labour even of the special commissioners was, however, fruitless.p
Peculiarly rigid was the constitution of the Locrians, with regard to propositions for making a law. The citizen, who proposed one, appeared in the assembly of the people, with a cord round his neck. Encircled by that solemn monitor, he laid before them the reasons, on which his proposal was founded: if those reasons were unsatisfactory, he was instantly strangled.q
Among the Romans, legislation, as it might be expected, was considered as a science: it was cultivated with the most assiduous industry, and was enriched with all the treasures of reason and philosophy. The mistress of the world had laws to instruct her how to make laws. In digesting the original plan of a bill, the magistrate, who proposed it, used every possible precaution, that it might come before the people in a form, the most perfect and unexceptionable. He consulted, in private, with his friends, upon its form and matter. The object was, that it might contain no clause contrary to the interests of the commonwealth; no provision inconsistent with former laws, not intended to be repealed or altered; and no regulation, which might produce a partial advantage to the connexions or relations of the proposer, or to the proposer himself.
As unity and simplicity are essential perfections of every good law; every thing foreign to the bill immediately in contemplation was strictly prohibited. By incoherent assemblages, the people might be induced to receive as law what they might dislike; or to reject what they might desire.
A bill, after all the precautions before mentioned, was submitted to the examination of the senate. On being approved there, it was fixed up publickly in some conspicuous part of the forum, that every citizen might understand fully what it contained. A meeting of the “comitia” was appointed by proclamation at the end of twenty seven days. When this time was elapsed, the people assembled. The bill proposed was proclaimed by the publick crier; and the person who proposed it was expected to speak first in its support. After this, any other member of the assembly was at liberty to deliver his sentiments; and, to prevent any improper influence, a private citizen, had always the privilege of speaking before a magistrate, except the magistrate who was the proposer of the law.
When the debates concerning the bill were finished, preparation was made for voting upon it. The names of the centuries were thrown promiscuously into an urn, and being blended together by the hand of the presiding magistrate, they were drawn out, one by one. The century first drawn was called the “prerogative century.” After these preparatory steps were taken, the magistrate, who proposed the law, commanded proclamation to be made for every one to repair to his respective century. The prerogative century was called out first, and afterwards the others, as their lots directed.
In the early times of the republick, the votes were given “viva voce;” but that mode being productive of much confusion, and having a tendency to subject the lower orders of citizens to the influence of their superiours, the more secret and independent method by ballot was introduced. It is to be remembered, that the citizens voted in their own right, and not by representation. To vote by ballot, in such a situation, was unquestionably a great improvement in a free system of government, such as that of Rome then was; and accordingly we find that Ciceror denominates the tablet, “the silent assertor of liberty.”
In this solemn, deliberate, circumspect manner, what was called “lex,” a law, in its strict and proper sense, was enacted. It was passed at the instance of a senatorial magistrate, by the whole aggregate body of the people (senators and patricians, as well as plebeians) in whom alone the majesty of the commonwealth resided.s
The general preamble to a capitulary of laws made in the reign of Edward the first, gives us an intimation of the course, which, in England, was observed, at that period, in passing laws. It mentions, that, “in the presence of certain reverend fathers, bishops of England, and others of the council of the realm of England, the underwritten constitutions were recited; and afterwards they were heard and published before the king and his council, who all agreed, as well the justices as others, that they should be put into writing for a perpetual memory, and that they should be stedfastly observed.”t
In Great Britain, laws are now passed in the following manner. All bills, except those of grace, originate in one of the two houses; and all other bills, except those for raising a revenue, may originate in either house of parliament. A bill may be brought in upon motion made to the house; or the house may give directions to bring it in. It is read—suppose in the house of commons—a first, and, at a convenient distance, a second time. After each reading, the speaker opens the substance of it, and puts the question, whether farther proceedings shall be had upon it. When it has had the second reading, it is referred to a selected committee, or to a committee of the whole house. In these committees, paragraph after paragraph is debated, blanks are filled up, and alterations and amendments are made. After the committee have gone through it, they report it with these amendments: the house then consider it again, and the question is put upon every clause and amendment. When it is agreed to by the house, it is then ordered to be engrossed for a third reading. On being engrossed, it is read a third time; amendments are sometimes made to it; and a new clause, which, in this late stage of its progress, is called a rider, is sometimes added. The speaker, again, opens the contents of the bill; and, holding it up in his hand, puts the question—Shall this bill pass? If this is agreed to, the title is then settled; and one of the members is directed to carry it to the lords, and desire their concurrence.
In that house, it passes through the same numerous stages, as in the house of commons. If it is rejected, the rejection passes sub silentio;12 and no communication takes place concerning it, between the two houses. On agreeing to it, the lords send a message, notifying their agreement; and the bill remains with them, if they have made no amendments. If they make amendments, they send them, with the bill, for the concurrence of the house of commons. If the two houses disagree with regard to the amendments; a conference usually takes place between members deputed by them, respectively, for this purpose. In this conference, the matters, concerning which the two houses differ in sentiment, are generally adjusted: but if each house continue inflexible, the bill is lost. If the commons agree to the amendments made by the lords to the bill, it is sent back to them with a message communicating their agreement.
Similar forms are observed, when a bill originates in the house of lords.u
We see, with what cautious steps, the business proceeds from its commencement to its conclusion. Each house acts repeatedly as a court of review upon itself: each house acts repeatedly as a court of review upon the other also. Could one believe it?—Notwithstanding all these proofs and instances of circumspection and care, which are constantly exhibited by the legislature of Great Britain, when it passes laws, precipitancy in passing them is frequently a well grounded cause of complaint. “Perhaps,” says a sensible and humane writer upon the criminal jurisprudence of England, “the great severity of our laws has been, in some degree, owing to their having been made flagrante ira,13 on some sudden occasion, when a combination of atrocious circumstances, attending some particular offence, inflamed the lawgivers.”v
In the house of representatives in congress, every bill must be introduced by motion for leave, or by an order of the house on the report of a committee: in either case, a committee to prepare the bill shall be appointed. When it is intended to introduce a bill of a general nature by motion for leave, one day’s notice, at least, of the motion shall be given: every such motion may be committed.
Every bill must receive three several readings in the house, previous to its passage; and no bill shall be read twice on the same day, without a special order of the house.
The first reading of a bill shall be for information; and, if opposition be made to it, the question shall be, “Shall the bill be rejected?” If no opposition be made, or if the question to reject be determined in the negative, the bill shall go to its second reading without a question.
When a bill is read the second time, the speaker shall state it as ready for commitment or engrossment: if committed, a question shall be, whether to a select committee, or to a committee of the whole house. If the bill be ordered to be engrossed, a day shall be appointed, when it shall receive the third reading. After commitment and report of a bill, it may, notwithstanding, be recommitted, even at any time before its passage.
In forming a committee of the whole house, the speaker shall leave his chair; and a chairman to preside in the committee shall be appointed.
A bill, committed to a committee of the whole house, shall be first read throughout by the clerk, and shall be then read again and debated by clauses. The body of the bill shall not be defaced or interlined; but all amendments, as they shall be agreed to, shall be duly entered, by the clerk, on a separate paper, noting the page and line, to which they refer; and, in this manner, shall be reported to the house. After being reported, it shall again be subject to be debated and amended by clauses, before a question to engross it be taken.w
In the senate of the United states, one day’s notice, at least, shall be given of an intended motion for leave to bring in a bill.
Every bill shall receive three readings previous to its being passed: these readings shall be on three different days, unless the senate unanimously direct otherwise: and the president shall give notice at each reading, whether it be the first, or the second, or the third.
No bill shall be committed or amended until it shall have been read twice: it may then be referred to a committee.x
The senate never go into a committee of the whole house. A committee of the whole house is composed of every member; and to form it, the speaker leaves the chair, and may sit and debate as any other member of the house. The vice president of the United States is, ex officio, president of the senate; but he has no vote, unless they be equally divided.y That this high officer might not be placed in a situation in which he could neither preside nor vote, is, I presume, the reason, why the senate do not resolve themselves into a committee of the whole. It is a rule, however, in the senate, that all bills, on a second reading, shall, unless otherwise ordered, be considered in the same manner, as if the senate were in a committee of the whole, before they shall be taken up and proceeded on by the senate, agreeable to the standing rules.z
Such, so numerous, and so wise, are the precautions used by our national legislature, before a bill can pass through its two different branches. But all these precautions, wise and numerous as they are, are far from being the only ones directed by the wisdom and care of our national constitution.
After a bill has passed, in both houses, through all the processes, which we have minutely enumerated, still, before it becomes a law, it must be presented to the president of the United States for his scrutiny and revision. If he approve, he signs it; but if not, he returns it, with his objections, to the house, in which it has originated. That house enter the objections, at large, on their journal, and proceed to reconsider the bill. If, after such reconsideration, two thirds of the members agree to pass it, it is sent, with the objections, to the other house, by which also it is reconsidered; and if approved by two thirds of that house, it shall become a law. In all such cases, the votes of both houses shall be determined by yeas and nays; and the names of the persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered on the journal of each house respectively.a
I have already illustrated,b at large, the nature, the political advantages, and the probable consequences, of the qualified negative vested in the president of the United States. I now consider it merely as an excellent regulation, to secure an additional degree of accuracy and circumspection in the manner of passing the laws.
The observations, which I have made on this subject, have a relation to the constitution and legislature of this commonwealth, as close as to those of the national government. A negative, similar to that of the president of the United States, is lodged in the governour of Pennsylvania;c and the rules of proceeding, adopted by the two houses which compose the legislature of this state, are substantially the same with the rules framed by the two houses which compose the legislature of the Union. It is, therefore, unnecessary, and it would be tedious, to make, to the former, a formal application of what has been mentioned concerning the latter.
By both constitutions, and in both legislatures, provision has been made, as far as, by human contrivance, it would seem, provision can be made, in order to prevent or to check precipitancy and intemperance, in the exercise of the all-important power of legislation, And yet, after all, there is, perhaps, too much reason to apprehend that the cacoethes legisferundi14 will be but too prevalent in both governments. This is an imperfection—in the present state of things, the very best institutions have their imperfections—this is an imperfection incident to governments, which are free. In such governments, the people, at once subjects and sovereigns, are too often tempted to alleviate or to alter the restraints, which they have imposed upon themselves.
We have already seen, that, in Athens, the number and intricacy of the laws were productive of great inconveniences, and were considered and felt as a grievance of the most uneasy and disagreeable kind. Livy, whose eloquence is marked as conspicuously by its justness as by its splendour, gives us a strong representation of the unwieldiness of Roman laws. Hed describes them as “immensus aliarum super alias acervatarum legum cumulus”—an immense collection of piles of laws, heaped upon one another in endless confusion. The description of the energetick Tacitus is still more concise and expressive—“legibus laborabatur”15 —the state staggered under the burthen of her laws.e As to Pennsylvania, I will, as it becomes me, simply state the fact. Within the last fifteen years, she has witnessed and she has sustained an accumulation of acts of legislation, in number eight hundred and seventy one.
Far be it from me to avail myself of the abuse, and to urge it against the enjoyment, of freedom. But while I prize the inestimable blessing highly as I do, I surely ought, in every character which I bear, to suggest, to recommend, and to perform every thing in my power, in order to guard its enjoyment from its abuse.
VI. I come now to the last head, under which I proposed to treat concerning the legislative department: this was, to consider the powers vested in congress by the constitution of the United States.
On this subject, we discover a striking difference between the constitution of the United States and that of Pennsylvania. By the latter,f each house of the general assembly is vested with every power necessary for a branch of the legislature of a free state. In the former, no clause of such an extensive and unqualified import is to be found. The reason is plain. The latter institutes a legislature with general, the former, with enumerated, powers. Those enumerated powers are now the subject of our consideration.
One great endg of the national government is to “provide for the common defence.” Defence presupposes an attack. We all know the instruments by which an attack is made by one nation upon another. We all, likewise, know the instruments necessary for defence when such an attack is made. That nation, which would protect herself from hostilities, or maintain peace, must have it in her power—such is the present situation of things—to declare war. The power of declaring war, and the other powers naturally connected with it, are vested in congress. To provide and maintain a navy—to make rules for its government—to grant letters of marque and reprisal—to make rules concerning captures—to raise and support armies—to establish rules for their regulation—to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for calling them forth in the service of the Union—all these are powers naturally connected with the power of declaring war. All these powers, therefore, are vested in congress.h
As the law is now received in England, the king has the sole prerogative of making war.i On this very interesting power, the constitution of the United States renews the principles of government, known in England before the conquest. This indeed, as we are told by a well informed writer,j may be accounted the chief difference between the Anglo-Saxon and the Anglo-Norman government. In the former, the power of making peace and war was invariably possessed by the wittenagemote; and was regarded as inseparable from the allodial condition of its members. In the latter, it was transferred to the sovereign: and this branch of the feudal system, which was accommodated, perhaps, to the depredations and internal commotions prevalent in that rude period, has remained in subsequent ages, when, from a total change of manners, the circumstances, by which it was recommended, have no longer any existence.
There is a pleasure in reflecting on such important renovations of the ancient constitution of England. We have found, and we shall find, that our national government is recommended by the antiquity, as well as by the excellence, of some of its leading principles.
Another great end of the national government is, “to ensure domestick tranquillity.” That it may be enabled to accomplish this end, congress may call forth the militia to suppress insurrections.
Again; the national government is instituted to “establish justice.” For this purpose, congress is authorized to erect tribunals inferiour to the supreme court; and to define and punish offences against the law of nations, and piracies and felonies committed on the high seas. These points will be more fully considered under the judicial department.
It is an object of the national government to “form a more perfect union.” On this principle, congress is empowered to regulate commerce among the several states, to establish post offices, to fix the standard of weights and measures, to coin and regulate the value of money, and to establish, throughout the United States, a uniform rule of naturalization.
Once more, at this time: the national government was intended to “promote the general welfare.” For this reason, congress have power to regulate commerce with the Indians and with foreign nations, and to promote the progress of science and of useful arts, by securing, for a time, to authors and inventors, an exclusive right to their compositions and discoveries.
An exclusive property in places fit for forts, magazines, arsenals, dock yards and other needful buildings; and an exclusive legislation over these places, and also, for a convenient distance, over such district as may become the seat of the national government—such exclusive property, and such exclusive legislation, will be of great publick utility, perhaps, of evident publick necessity. They are, therefore, vested in congress, by the constitution of the United States.
For the exercise of the foregoing powers, and for the accomplishment of the foregoing purposes, a revenue is unquestionably indispensable. That congress may be enabled to exercise and accomplish them, it has power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises.
The powers of congress are, indeed, enumerated; but it was intended that those powers, thus enumerated, should be effectual, and not nugatory. In conformity to this consistent mode of thinking and acting, congress has power to make all laws, which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution every power vested by the constitution in the government of the United States, or in any of its officers or departments.
And thus much concerning the first great division of the national government—its legislative authority. I proceed to its second grand division—its executive authority.
[a. ]Δημος Pot. 12. Iliad l. 2. v. 547.
[1. ]Aeschines (389–314 bc) was an Athenian statesman and orator.
[b. ]1. Gill. 26.
[c. ]1. Gill. 3.
[d. ]Bac. on Gov. 2.
[e. ]Id. 9.
[f. ]Bac. on Gov. 34.
[g. ]Id. 84.
[h. ]Ante. vol. 1. p. 635. 636.
[i. ]Ante, vol. 1. p. 696. &c.
[j. ]Ante. Vol. 1. p. 721.
[k. ]De mor. Germ. c. 11.
[2. ]In matters of less importance, rulers take counsel, in those of greater import, the people.
[l. ]Art 1. s. 2.
[m. ]4. Ld. Bac. 220.
[n. ]Art. 9. s. 5.
[o. ]Art. 9. s. 26.
[p. ]Cons. Penn. Art. 3. s. 1.
[q. ]Bac. on Gov. 34.
[r. ]Cons. N. H. p. 11. 14.
[s. ]Cons. Mass. c 1. s. 3. a. 4.
[t. ]Char. R.I. p. 41. 51.
[u. ]Cons. Con. p. 54.
[v. ]Cons. N. Y. c. 7. p. 58.
[w. ]Cons. N. J. c. 4. p. 70. 71.
[x. ]Cons. Del. c. 5. p. 95.
[y. ]Cons. Mar. c. 2. p. 109.
[z. ]Cons. Vir. p. 126.
[a. ]Cons. N. C. c. 8. p. 134.
[b. ]Cons. S. C. art. 1. s. 4.
[c. ]Cons. Georg. c. 9. p. 158.
[d. ]Alterations have been made by several of the states in their constitutional provisions on this subject.
[e. ]Cons. U.S. art. 1. s. 2.
[f. ]1. Ins. 78. b.
[g. ]Id. ibid.
[h. ]Cons. U.S. art. 1. s. 3.
[i. ]Id. art. 2. s. 1.
[j. ]C. 24. p. 63.
[k. ]1. Gil. c. 3. p. 107. 8. War. Bib. 29.
[3. ]Publius Vergilius Maro, or Virgil (70–19 bc), was a Roman poet.
[l. ]Cons. U. S. art. 1. s. 2.
[m. ]Cons. U. S. art. 1. s. 2.
[n. ]St. 1. Hen. 5. c. 1. Bar. 380.
[4. ]Sir Bulstrode Whitelocke (1605–1675) was an English author and member of parliament.
[o. ]1. Whitl. 496.
[p. ]Cons. U.S. art. 1. s. 3.
[q. ]Ante. vol. 1. ch. 5.
[r. ]Art. 1. s. 5.
[5. ]John Millar (1735–1801) was a historian of the English government.
[s. ]P. 396 (4to.)
[t. ]Cons. Penn. art. 1. s. 7.
[u. ]Cons. U. S. art. 1. s. 2.
[v. ]Id. art. 1. s. 3.
[w. ]After the census mentioned in the text, the representatives were apportioned among the states, by an act of congress passed on the fourteenth day of April, 1792, agreeably to a ratio of one member for every thirty three thousand persons in each state, computed according to the rule prescribed by the constitution. The number of representatives, agreeably to that ratio, amounted to one hundred and five.
[6. ]Jean François Paul de Gondi, Cardinal de Retz (1614–1679), was a French clergyman and political agitator.
[x. ]Art. 1. s. 2.
[y. ]Cons. U. S. art. 1. s. 3.
[z. ]Cons. Penn. art. 1. s. 5. 9.
[a. ]1. Ins. 11 b.
[b. ]1. Bl. Com. 163. 164.
[c. ]Art. 1. s. 5.
[d. ]Art. 1. s. 12.
[e. ]Jour. Rep. 13th April, 1789.
[f. ]Cons. U. S. art. 1. s. 5. Cons. Penn. art. 1. s. 16.
[g. ]1. Bl. Com. 187. 188.
[h. ]Bac. on Gov. 36. Millar. 146. 242.
[i. ]A similar distinction between stated and occasional assemblies was observed by the Athenians. The times of the former were appointed by law: the latter were summoned by those at the head of the civil or of the military department of the government; as emergencies in those different departments arose. 1. Pot. Ant. 91. 92.
[j. ]Millar. 242. 244.
[7. ]Resist the beginnings.
[k. ]Id. 311.
[l. ]Art. 1. s. 6.
[m. ]Art. 1. s. 17.
[8. ]A proved thief.
[n. ]Bac. on Gov. 38.
[o. ]Cons. U. S. art. 1. s. 6. Cons. Penn. art. 1. s. 17.
[p. ]1. Bl. Com. 164.
[q. ]Con. U. S. art. 1. s. 5. Cons. Penn. art. 1. s. 23.
[r. ]Cons. U. S. art. 1. s. 5.
[s. ]Art. 1. s. 13.
[t. ]Cons. U. S. art. 1. s. 5. Cons. Penn. art. 1. s. 13.
[u. ]Art. 1. s. 5.
[v. ]Art. 1. s. 14, 15.
[w. ]1. Bl. Com. 181.
[x. ]Cons. U. S. Art. 1. s. 2.
[y. ]Art. 1. s. 11.
[z. ]1. Bl. Com. 181.
[9. ]It is called a grove because it is not light.
[a. ]Millar 414.
[10. ]Sir Christopher Yelverton (1536–1612) was serjeant-at-law in 1589 and queen’s serjeant from 1598 to 1602. This passage comes from remarks he made upon being elected Speaker of the House of Commons in 1597. Serjeants held the highest and most ancient degree at the English bar.
[11. ]Phocion (c. 402–c. 318 bc) was an Athenian general, a statesman, and, late in life, a student of Plato.
[b. ]4. Parl. Hist. 411, 412.
[c. ]Cons. U. S. art. 1. s. 7. Cons. Penn. art. 1. s. 20.
[d. ]Ante Vol. 1. p. 731.
[e. ]4. Ins. 29.
[f. ]Millar. 398.
[g. ]Art. 1. s. 2, 3.
[h. ]Art. 4. s. 1. 2.
[i. ]1. Pot. Ant. 125.
[j. ]Ch. 12.
[k. ]2. Hale. P. C. *150. 4. Bl. Com. 256.
[l. ]Millar. 403.
[m. ]2. Reeve. 85.
[n. ]Cons. U. S. art. 2. s. 4. art. 1. s. 3. Cons. Penn. art. 4. s. 3.
[o. ]1. Pot. Ant. 140.
[p. ]2. Anac. 271.
[q. ]1. Pot. Ant. 140.
[r. ]De leg. agr. II. 2. De leg. III. 17
[s. ]Bever. 71–77.
[t. ]4. Edw. 1. st. 3.
[12. ]Under silence; without any notice being taken.
[u. ]1. Bl. Com. 181–184.
[13. ]With anger.
[v. ]1. Dagge. 274.
[w. ]Jour. Rep. 7th April, 1789.
[x. ]Jour. Sen. 1789. p. 15.
[y. ]Cons. U. S. art. 1. s. 3.
[z. ]Jour. Sen. 1789. p. 39.
[a. ]Cons. U. S. art. 1. s. 7.
[b. ]Ante. vol. 1. p. 734.
[c. ]Cons. Penn. art. 1. s. 22.
[14. ]Malignant law.
[d. ]L. 3. c. 34.
[15. ]Labored law.
[e. ]Tac. Ann. l. 3.
[f. ]Art. 1. s. 13.
[g. ]Cons. U. S. Pream.
[h. ]Cons. U. S. Art. 1. s. 8.
[i. ]1. Bl. Com. 257.
[j. ]Millar. 30.