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CHAPTER I.: OF MODERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLICS. - John Adams, The Works of John Adams, vol. 4 (Novanglus, Thoughts on Government, Defence of the Constitution) 
The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations, by his Grandson Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1856). 10 volumes. Vol. 4.
Part of: The Works of John Adams, 10 vols.
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OF MODERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLICS.
“A society of gods would govern themselves democratically,” says the eloquent philosopher of Geneva; who, however, would have agreed, that his “gods” must not have been the classical deities; since he knew from the highest authority, the poets, who had their information from those divinities, the Muses, that all the terrors of the nod, the arm, and the thunderbolts of Jupiter, with all the energy of his undisputed monarchy, were insufficient to hold them in order. As it is impossible to know what would have been his definition of the gods, we may quietly pursue our inquiry, whether it is practicable to govern men in this way. It would be very surprising if, among all the nations that have existed, not one has discovered a secret of so much importance. It is not necessary for us to prove that no such government has existed; it is incumbent on him who shall embrace the opinion of M. Turgot, to name the age, the country, and the people in which such an experiment has been tried. It might be easier to determine the question concerning the practicability or impracticability, the utility or inutility of a simple democracy, if we could find a number of examples of it. From the frightful pictures of a democratical city, drawn by the masterly pencils of ancient philosophers and historians, it may be conjectured that such governments existed in Greece and Italy, at least for short spaces of time; but no particular history of any one of them is come down to us; nor are we able to procure any more satisfaction to our curiosity from modern history. If such a phenomenon is at this time to be seen in the world, it is probably in some of those states which have the name of democracies, or at least in such as have preserved some share in the government to the people. Let us travel to some of those countries and examine their laws.
The republic of San Marino, in Italy, is sometimes quoted as an instance; and, therefore, it is of some importance to examine, 1. Whether, in fact, this is a simple democracy; and, 2. Whether, if it were such, it is not owing to particular circumstances, which do not belong to any other people, and prove it to be improper for any other, especially the United States of America, to attempt to imitate it.
The republic of San Marino, as Mr. Addison informs us, stands on the top of a very high and craggy mountain, generally hid among the clouds, and sometimes under snow, even when the weather is clear and warm in all the country about it.
This mountain,1 and a few hillocks that lie scattered about the bottom of it, form the whole circuit of the dominion. They have what they call three castles, three convents, and five churches, and reckon about five thousand souls in their community.
St. Marino was its founder, a Dalmatian by birth, and by trade a mason. He was employed about thirteen hundred years ago in the reparation of Rimini, and after he had finished his work, retired to this solitary mountain, as very proper for the life of a hermit, which he led in the greatest austerities of religion. He had not been long here before he wrought a reputed miracle, which, joined with his extraordinary sanctity, gained him so great an esteem, that the princes of the country made him a present of the mountain, to dispose of it at his discretion. His reputation quickly peopled it, and gave rise to the republic which calls itself after his name. The best of its churches is dedicated to the saint, and holds his ashes. His statue stands over the high altar, with the figure of a mountain crowned with three castles in his hands, which is likewise the arms of the commonwealth. The citizens attribute to his protection the long duration of the state, and look on him as the greatest saint, next to the blessed Virgin. In their statute-book is a law against such as speak disrespectfully of him, who are to be punished in the same manner as those convicted of blasphemy. This petty republic has lasted thirteen hundred years, while all the other states of Italy have several times changed masters and forms of government.2 Their whole history consists in two purchases of a neighboring prince, and two wars, in which they assisted the pope against a lord of Rimini.
They would probably sell their liberty as dear as they could to any that attacked them;1 for there is but one road by which to climb up to them. All that are capable of bearing arms are exercised, and ready at a moment’s call.
The sovereign power of the republic was lodged originally in what they call the arengo, a great council, in which every house had its representative; but, because they found too much confusion in such a multitude of statesmen, they devolved their whole authority into the hands of the council of sixty. The arengo, however, is still called together in cases of extraordinary importance; and if, after due summons, any member absents himself, he is to be fined. In the ordinary course of government, the council of sixty, which, notwithstanding the name, consists but of forty persons, has in its hands the administration of affairs, and is made up, half out of the noble families, and half out of the plebeian.2 They decide all by balloting, are not admitted until five-and-twenty years old, and choose the officers of the commonwealth.
No sentence can stand that is not confirmed by two thirds of this council; no son can be admitted into it during the life of his father; nor can two be in it of the same family; nor can any enter but by election. The chief officers of the commonwealth are the two capitaneos, who have such a power as the old Roman consuls had, but are chosen every six months. Some have been capitaneos six or seven times, though the office is never to be continued to the same persons twice successively. The third officer is the commissary, who judges in all civil and criminal matters; but because the many alliances, friendships, and intermarriages, as well as the personal feuds and animosities that happen among so small a people, might obstruct the course of justice, if one of their own number had the distribution of it, they have always a foreigner for this employ,1 whom they choose for three years, and maintain out of the public stock. He must be a doctor of law, and a man of known integrity.2 He is joined in commission with the capitaneos, and acts somewhat like the recorder of London under the lord mayor. The fourth man in the state is the physician. Another person, who makes no ordinary figure in the republic, is the schoolmaster. Few in the place but have some tincture of learning.3
“The people are esteemed very honest and rigorous in the execution of justice, and seem to enjoy more content and happiness among their rocks and snows, than the rest of the Italians do in the most fertile and inviting spots. Indeed, nothing can be a greater instance of the natural love of mankind for liberty, and of their aversion to arbitrary government, than such a savage mountain, covered with people, while the Campania of Rome is almost destitute of inhabitants.”
This is the account of San Marino. Yet, if all authority is here collected in one centre, that centre is not the nation. Although the original representation in the arengo was of houses, that is to say, of property, rather than of the persons of the citizens, and, consequently, was not very equal, since it excluded all personal property, as well as all who had no property; yet even such an agrarian, it seems, was not a sufficient check to licentiousness, and they found it necessary to institute a senate of forty men. Here, at least, commenced as complete an aristocracy as that of ancient Rome; or, to express it more exactly, as complete a separation of the aristocratical from the democratical part of the community. There are two remarkable circumstances in confirmation of this view; one is, that not only there are noble families in this illustrissima republica Sancti Marini, but that the constitution has limited the choice of the electors so far as to oblige them to choose one half the senate out of these nobles; the other is, that the names of the agents for the commonwealth, of the notary, and the witnesses to two instruments of purchases, made at seventy years’ distance from one another, one in 1100, the other in 1170, are the same. It is not credible that they were the same persons; they were probably sons or grandsons,—which is a strong proof of the attachment to aristocratical families in this little state, and of their desire to continue the same blood and the same names in public employments, as in the case of the Oranges, Fagels, De Lyndens, &c. in Holland, and innumerable other examples in all nations.1
Another remarkable circumstance is, the reluctance of the citizens to attend the assembly of the arengo, which obliged them to make a law, compelling themselves to attend, upon a penalty. This is a defect, and a misfortune natural to every democratical constitution, and to the popular part of every mixed government. A general or too common disinclination to attend, leaves room for persons and parties more active to carry points, by faction and intrigue, which the majority, were all present, would not approve.
It is curious to see how many checks and limitations are contrived for this legislative assembly. Half nobles, half plebeians; all upwards of five-and-twenty years old; two thirds must agree; no son can sit with his father; never two of the same family.
The capitaneos have the executive, like the Roman consuls,1 and the commissary has the judicial. Here, again, are remarkable limitations; the latter must be a foreigner, and he is chosen for three years. This is to give some degree of stability to the judicial power, and to make it a real and powerful check upon both the executive and legislative.
We are not, indeed, told whether the council of forty are elected annually or for life.2 Mr. Addison may, from his well-known character, be supposed to have been more attentive to the grand and beautiful monuments of ancient arts of every kind which surrounded him in Italy, than to this rough hillock, although the form of government might have excited his curiosity, and the simplicity of manners his esteem; he has accordingly given a very imperfect sketch of its constitution and history. Yet enough appears to show incontestably that San Marino is by no means a perfect democracy. It is a mixture of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy, as really as Sparta and Rome were, and as the Massachusetts, New York, and Maryland now are, in which the powers of the governor, senate, and assembly are more exactly ascertained and nicely balanced; but they are not more distinct than those of the capitaneos, council of forty, and the arengo are in San Marino.
Should it be argued, that a government like this, where the sovereignty resides in the whole body of the people, is a democracy; it may be answered, that the right of sovereignty in all nations is unalienable and indivisible, and does and can reside nowhere else; but, not to recur to a principle so general, the exercise, as well as the right of sovereignty, in Rome, resided in the people, but the government was not a democracy. In America, the right of sovereignty resides indisputably in the body of the people, and they have the whole property of land. There are no nobles or patricians; all are equal by law and by birth. The governors and senates, as well as representative assemblies, to whom the exercise of sovereignty is committed, are annually chosen. Governments more democratical never existed; they are vastly more so than that of San Marino. Yet the annual administration is divided into executive, legislative, and judicial powers; and the legislature itself is divided into monarchical, aristocratical, and democratical branches; and an equilibrium has been anxiously sought for in all their deliberations and actions, with infinitely more art, judgment, and skill, than appears in this little Italian commonwealth.
The liberty and the honesty of these people is not at all surprising. In so small a state, where every man personally knows every other, let the form of government be what it will, it is scarcely possible that any thing like tyranny or cruelty can take place. A king, or a decemvirate, intrusted with the government, would feel the censures of the people, and be constantly conscious of the facility of assembling the whole, and apprehensive of an exertion of their strength.
The poverty of this people appears, by the fine of one penny imposed upon absence from the arengo; and by the law that an ambassador should have a shilling a day. This, however, is a salary in proportion to the numbers of the people, as thirty guineas a day would be to an ambassador from the United States. It appears also probable, from the physician’s being obliged to keep a horse, that there is not a carriage nor another saddle-horse in the commonwealth.
A handful of poor people, living in the simplest manner, by hard labor, upon the produce of a few cows, sheep, goats, swine, poultry, and pigeons, on a piece of rocky, snowy ground, protected from every enemy by their situation, their superstition, and even by their poverty, having no commerce nor luxury, can be no example for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Georgia, or Vermont,1 in one of which there are possibly half a million of people, and in each of the others at least thirty thousand, scattered over a large territory.
Upon the whole, a stronger proof cannot be adduced of the necessity of different orders, and of an equilibrium between them, than this commonwealth of San Marino, where there are such strong symptoms of both in a society in which there appears the least occasion for them that can be imagined to take place in any conceivable situation.1
In a research like this, after those people in Europe who have had the skill, courage, and fortune to preserve a voice in the government, Biscay, in Spain, ought by no means to be omitted. While their neighbors have long since resigned all their pretensions into the hands of kings and priests, this extraordinary people have preserved their ancient language, genius, laws, government, and manners, without innovation, longer than any other nation of Europe. Of Celtic extraction, they once inhabited some of the finest parts of the ancient Bœtica; but their love of liberty, and unconquerable aversion to foreign servitude, made them retire, when invaded and overpowered in their ancient seats, into these mountainous countries, called by the ancients Cantabria. They were governed by counts, sent them by the kings of Oviedo and Leon, until 859, when, finding themselves without a chief, because Zeno, who commanded them, was made prisoner, they rose and took arms to resist Ordogno, son of Alfonsus III., whose domination was too severe for them. They chose for their chief one of the blood royal of Scotland, by the mother’s side, and son-in-law of Zeno, their governor, who, having overcome Ordogno, in 870, was elected their lord; and his posterity, who bore afterwards the name of Haro, succeeded him, from father to son, until the king, Don Pedro the Cruel, having put to death those who were in possession of the lordship, reduced them to make a treaty by which they united their country, under the title of a lordship, with Castile. By this convention the King of Spain is now Lord of Biscay. It is a republic; and one of the privileges the people have most insisted on, is not to have a king. Another was, that every new lord, at his accession, should come into the country in person, with one of his legs bare, and take an oath to preserve the privileges of the lordship. The present king of Spain is the first who has been complimented with their consent, that the oath should be administered at Madrid, though the other humiliating and indecent ceremony has been long laid aside.
Their solicitude for defence has surrounded with walls all the towns in the district. These are one-and-twenty in number; the principal of which are, Orduña, Laredo, Portugalete, Durango, Bilbao, and St. Andero. Biscay is divided into nine merindades, a sort of jurisdiction like a bailiwick, besides the four cities on the coast. The capital is Bilbao. The whole is a collection of very high and very steep mountains, rugged and rocky to such a degree, that a company of men posted on one of them might defend itself as long as it could subsist, by rolling rocks on the enemy. This natural formation of the country, which has rendered the march of armies impracticable, and the daring spirit of the inhabitants, have preserved their liberty.
Active, vigilant, generous, brave, hardy, inclined to war and navigation, they have enjoyed, for two thousand years, the reputation of being the best soldiers and sailors in Spain, and even the best courtiers, many of them having, by their wit and manners, raised themselves into offices of consequence under the court of Madrid. Their valuable qualities have recommended them to the esteem of the kings of Spain, who have hitherto left them in possession of those great immunities of which they are so jealous. In 1632, indeed, the court laid a duty upon salt; the inhabitants of Bilbao rose and massacred all the officers appointed to collect it, and all the officers of the grand admiral. Three thousand troops were sent to punish them for rebellion; these they fought, and totally defeated, driving most of them into the sea, which discouraged the court from pursuing their plan of taxation. Since that time the king has had no officer of any kind in the lordship, except his corregidor.
Many writers ascribe their flourishing commerce to their situation; but, as this is no better than that of Ferrol or Corunna, that advantage is more probably due to their liberty. In riding through this little territory, one would fancy himself in Connecticut; instead of miserable huts built of mud and covered with straw, the country appears full of large and commodious houses and barns of the farmer; the lands are well cultivated; and there is a wealthy, happy yeomanry. The roads, so dangerous and impassable in most other parts of Spain, are here very good, having been made at a vast expense of labor.
Although the government is called a democracy, we cannot here find all authority collected into one centre; there are, on the contrary, as many distinct governments as there are cities and merindades. The general government has two orders at least; the lord or governor, and the biennial parliament. Each of the thirteen subordinate divisions has its organized government, with its chief magistrate at the head of it. We may judge of the form of all of them by that of the metropolis, which calls itself, in all its laws, the noble and illustrious republic of Bilbao. This city has its alcalde, who is both governor and chief justice, its twelve regidores or counsellors, attorney-general, &c., and by all these, assembled in the consistorial palace under the titles of conçejo, justicia, y regimiento, the laws are made in the name of the Lord of Biscay, and confirmed by him.
These officers, it is true, are elected by the citizens, but they must by law be elected, as well as the deputies to the biennial parliament or junta general, out of a few noble families, unstained, both by the side of father and mother, by any mixture with Moors, Jews, new converts, penitentiaries of the inquisition, &c. They must be natives and residents, worth a thousand ducats, and must have no concern in commerce, manufactures, or trades; and, by a fundamental agreement among all the merindades, all their deputies to the junta general, and all their regidores, syndics, secretaries, and treasurers, must be nobles, at least knights, and such as never exercised any mechanical trades, themselves or their fathers. Thus we see the people themselves have established by law a contracted aristocracy, under the appearance of a liberal democracy. Americans, beware!
Although we see here in the general government, and in that of every city and merindade, the three branches of power, of the one, the few, and the many; yet, if it were as democratical as it has been thought by some, we could by no means infer, from this instance of a little flock upon a few impracticable mountains, in a round form of ten leagues diameter, the utility or practicability of such a government in any other country.
The disposition to division, so apparent in all democratical governments, however tempered with aristocratical and monarchical powers, has shown itself in the breaking off from it of Guipuscoa and Alaba; and the only preservative of it from other divisions has been the fear of their neighbors. They always knew, that as soon as they should fall into factions, or attempt innovations, the court of Spain would interpose, and prescribe them a government not so much to their taste.
It is commonly said, that some of the cantons of Switzerland are democratical, and others aristocratical; and if these epithets are understood only to mean that one of these powers prevails in some of those republics, and the other in the rest, they are just enough; but there is neither a simple democracy, nor a simple aristocracy among them. The governments of these confederated states are very complicated, and, therefore, very difficult to be fully explained; yet the most superficial inquirer will find in all of them the clearest traces of a composition of all the three powers.
To begin with the cantons commonly reputed democratical.
The canton of Appenzel consists of a series of valleys, scattered among inaccessible rocks and mountains, in all about eighteen miles square.1 The people are laborious and frugal, and have no commerce but in cattle, hides, butter, cheese, and a little linen made of their own flax. It has no walled towns, and only two or three open boroughs and a few small villages; it is, like New England, almost a continued village, covered with excellent houses of the yeomanry, built of wood, each of which has its territory of pasture-grounds, commonly ornamented with trees; neatness and convenience are studied without, and a remarkable cleanliness within. The principal part of the inhabitants have preserved the simplicity of the pastoral life. As there are not, at most, above fifty thousand souls, there cannot be more than ten thousand men capable of bearing arms. It is not at all surprising, among so much freedom, though among rocks and herds, to hear of literature, and men of letters who are an ornament to their country.
Nevertheless, this simple people, so small in number, in so narrow a territory, could not agree. After a violent contest,2 at the time of the Reformation, in which they were in danger of a civil war, they agreed, through the mediation of the other cantons, to divide the canton into two portions, the Outer and the Inner Appenzel, or Rhodes Exterior and Rhodes Interior. Each district has now its respective chief magistrate, court of justice, police, banneret, and deputy to the general diet, although the canton has but one vote, and consequently loses its voice if the two deputies are of different opinions. The canton is divided into no less than twelve communities; six of them called the Inner Appenzel, lying to the east; and six, the Outer, to the west. They have one general sovereign council, which is composed of one hundred and forty-four persons, twelve taken from each community.
The sovereignty resides in the general assembly, which, in the Interior Rhodes, meets every year at Appenzel, the last Sunday in April; but, in the Exterior Rhodes, it assembles alternately at Trogen and at Hundwyl.1 In the Interior Rhodes are the chiefs and officers, the Land-Amman, the tithing man, the governor, the treasurer, the captain of the country, the director of the buildings, the director of the churches, and the ensign. The Exterior Rhodes have ten officers, namely,—two Land-Ammans, two governors, two treasurers, two captains, and two ensigns. The Interior Rhodes is subdivided into six lesser ones, each of which has sixteen counsellors, among whom are always two chiefs. The grand council in the Interior Rhodes, as also the criminal jurisdiction, is composed of one hundred and twenty-eight persons, who assemble twice a year, eight days before the general assembly, and at as many other times as occasions require.2 Moreover, they have also the little council, called the weekly council, because it meets every week in the year. The Exterior Rhodes are now divided into nineteen communities; and the sovereignty of them consists in the double grand council of the country, called the old and new council, which assembles once a year, eight days after the assembly of the country, at Trogen or at Herisaw, and is composed of ninety and odd persons. Then follows the grand council, in which, besides the ten officers, the reigning chiefs of all the communities have seats, the directors of the buildings, the chancellor, and the sautier, which make thirty-five persons; the reigning Land-Amman presides. After this comes the little council from before the Sitter, which is held on the first Tuesday of each month at Trogen; the reigning Land-Amman is the president, to whom always come in aid, alternately, an officer, with a member of council from all the thirteen communities, the chancellor of the country, and the sautier, and it consists of twenty and odd persons. The little council from behind the Sitter is held under the presidency of the reigning Land-Amman, whenever occasion requires;3 it is held at Herisaw, Hundwyl, or Urnaeschen; at it assist the chancellor of the country and the sautier, with the counsellors of the six communities behind the Sitter, appointed for this service.1
Let me ask, if here are not different orders of men and balances in abundance? Such a handful of people, living by agriculture, in primitive simplicity, one would think might live very quietly, almost without any government at all; yet, instead of being capable of collecting all authority into one assembly, they seem to have been forcibly agitated by a mutual power of repulsion, which has divided them into two commonwealths, each of which has its monarchical power in a chief magistrate; its aristocratical power in two councils, one for legislation, and the other for execution; besides the two more popular assemblies. This is surely no simple democracy. Indeed, a simple democracy by representation is a contradiction in terms.2
The canton of Underwald consists only of villages and boroughs, although it is twenty-five miles in length and seventeen in breadth.3 These dimensions, it seems, were too extensive to be governed by a legislation so imperfectly combined, and nature has taught and compelled them to separate into two divisions, the one above, and the other below, a certain large forest of oaks, which runs nearly in the middle of the country, from north to south. The inferior valley, below the forest, contains four communities; and the superior, above it, six. The principal or capital is Sarnen. The sovereign is the whole county, the sovereignty residing in the general assembly, where all the males of fifteen have entry and suffrage; but each valley apart has, with respect to its interior concerns, its Land-Amman, its officers of administration, and its public assembly, composed of fifty-eight senators, taken from the communities. As to affairs without, there is a general council, formed of all the officers of administration, and of fifty-eight senators chosen in the said councils of the two valleys. Besides this there are, for justice and police, the chamber of seven and the chamber of fifteen for the upper valley, and the chamber of eleven for the lower.
Here again are arrangements more complicated, and aristocratical preferences more decided, in order to counterpoise the democratical assembly, than any to be found in America, and the Land-Amman is as great a man in proportion as an American governor. Is this a simple democracy? Has this little clan of graziers been able to collect all authority into one centre? Are there not three assemblies here to moderate and balance each other? And are not the executive and judicial powers separated from the legislative? Although its constitution is not by any means so well digested as ten at least of those of the United States; and although it would never be found capable of holding together a great nation, is it not a mixed government as much as any in America?1
The canton of Glarus is a mountainous country, of eight miles long and four wide, according to native authors, perhaps intending thereby German miles; but twenty-five miles in length and eighteen in breadth, according to some English accounts. The commerce of it is in cheese, butter, cattle, linen, and thread. Ten thousand cattle and four thousand sheep, pastured in summer upon the mountains, constitute their wealth.
The inhabitants live together in a general equality and most perfect harmony, even those of the different persuasions of catholics and protestants, who sometimes perform divine service in the same church, one after the other; and all the offices of state are indifferently administered by both parties, though the protestants are more in number, and superior both in industry and commerce. All the houses are built of wood, large and solid, those of the richest inhabitants differing only from those of the poorer, as they are larger.
The police is well-regulated here, as it is throughout Switzerland. Liberty does not degenerate into licentiousness. Liberty, independence, and an exemption from taxes, amply compensate for a want of the refinements of luxury. There are none so rich as to gain an ascendency by largesses. If they err in their counsels, it is an error of the judgment, and not of the heart. As there is no fear of invasion, and they have no conquests to make, their policy consists in maintaining their independence and preserving the public tranquillity. As the end of government is the greatest happiness of the greatest number, saving at the same time the stipulated rights of all, governments like these, where a large share of power is preserved by the people, deserve to be admired and imitated. It is in such governments that human nature appears in its dignity,—honest, brave, and generous.
Some writers are of opinion that Switzerland was originally peopled by a colony of Greeks. The same greatness of soul, the same spirit of independence, the same love of country, has animated both the ancients and the moderns to that determined heroism which prefers death to slavery. Their history is full of examples of victories obtained by small numbers of men over large armies. In 1388, the Austrians made an irruption into the territory of Glarus with an army of fifteen thousand men; but, instead of conquering the country as they expected, in attacking about four hundred men posted on the mountains at Naefels, they were broken by the stones rolled upon them from the summit; the Swiss, at this critical moment, rushed down upon them with such fury, as forced them to retire with an immense loss. Such will ever be the character of a people, who preserve so large a share to themselves in their legislature, while they temper their constitution at the same time with an executive power in a chief magistrate, and an aristocratical power in a wise senate.
The government here is by no means entirely democratical. It is true, that the sovereign is the whole country, and the sovereignty resides in the general assembly, where each male of sixteen, with his sword at his side, has his seat and vote. It is true that this assembly, which is annually held in an open plain, ratifies the laws, lays taxes, enters into alliances, declares war, and makes peace.
But it has a first magistrate in a Land-Amman, who is the chief of the republic, and is chosen alternately from among the protestants and from among the catholics.1 The protestant remains three years in office; the catholic two. The manner of his appointment is a mixture of election and lot. The people choose five candidates, who draw lots for the office.2 The other great officers of state are appointed in the same manner.
There is a council called a senate, composed of the Land-Amman, a stadtholder, and sixty senators, forty-five protestants and fifteen catholics, all taken from fifteen tagwen or corvees, into which the three principal quarters or partitions of the country are subdivided for its more convenient government. In this senate, called the council of regency, the executive power resides.3 Each tagwen or corvee furnishes four senators; besides the borough of Glarus, which furnishes six.4
Instead of a simple democracy, it is a mixed government, in which the monarchical power in the Land-Amman, stadtholder, or proconsul, the aristocratical order in the senate, and the democratical in the general assembly, are distinctly marked. It is, however, but imperfectly balanced; so much of the executive power in an aristocratical assembly would be dangerous in the highest degree in a large state and among a rich people. If this canton could extend its dominion, or greatly multiply its numbers, it would soon find the necessity of giving the executive power to the Land-Amman, in order to defend the people against the senate; for the senate, although it is always the reservoir of wisdom, is eternally the very focus of ambition.
The canton of Zug is small, but rich, and divided into mountains and plains. The sovereign is the city of Zug, and part of the country. It is divided into five quarters, which possess the sovereignty; the city of Zug is two, and the country three, Menzingen, Aegeri, and Baar. The government is very complicated, and the sovereignty resides in the general assembly of the five quarters, where each male person of sixteen years of age has admittance and a voice.1 It assembles annually to enact laws and choose magistrates.2 Thus these five quarters make a body of a democratical republic, which commands the rest of the canton. They furnish alternately the Land-Amman, the head or chief of the state, who must always reside at Zug, with the regency of the country, although he is chosen by the suffrages of all the quarters collectively. He continues three years in office, when taken from the district of Zug, and but two when chosen from any of the others.
The council of regency, to whom the general administration of affairs is intrusted, is composed of forty senators, thirteen from the city, and twenty-seven from the country.3
The city, moreover, has its chief, its council, and its officers apart, and every one of the other quarters has the same.
It is a total misapplication of words to call this government a simple democracy; for, although the people are accounted for something, and indeed for more than in most other free governments; in other words, although it is a free republic, it is rather a confederation of four or five republics, each of which has its monarchical, aristocratical, and democratical branches, than a simple democracy. The confederation, too, has its three branches; the general assembly, the regency of senators, and the Land-Amman; being different orders, tempering each other, as really as the house, council, and governor, in any of the United States of America.
The canton of Uri, the place of the birth and residence of William Tell, shook off the yoke of Austria in 1308, and, with Schwitz and Underwald, laid the foundation of the perpetual alliance of the cantons, in 1315. The canton consists only of villages and little towns or bourgades, and the whole is divided into ten genossamen, or inferior communities. It has no city. Altdorf, where the general assemblies are held, and the Land-Amman and regency reside, is the principal village.
The Land-Amman and the principal magistrates are elected in the general assembly, in which all the male persons of sixteen1 years of age have a right to a seat and a vote.
The senate, or council of regency, in whom is vested the executive power, is composed of sixty members, taken equally from each genossamen, though they reside at the capital borough. From this council are taken all the necessary officers.2
There are two other councils; one called the chamber of seven, and the other the chamber of fifteen, for the management of lesser affairs.
The valley of Urseren, three leagues in length and one in breadth, marches under the banners of Uri; but it is but an ally, connected by treaty in 1410. It has its proper Land-Amman and council, and has also a bailiwick subject to it.
The village of Gersaw is a league in breadth, and two in length; there are about a thousand inhabitants. This is the smallest republic in Europe; it has, however, its Land-Amman, its council of regency, and its general assembly of burgesses, its courts of justice and militia, although it is said there is not a single horse in the whole empire. Such a diminutive republic, in an obscure corner, and unknown, is interesting to Americans, not only because every spot of earth on which civil liberty flourishes deserves their esteem; but, particularly, because it shows the impossibility of erecting even the smallest government, among the poorest people, without different orders, councils, and balances.
The canton of Schwitz has the honor of giving the name to the whole confederation, because the first battle for independency was fought there; yet it consists only of villages divided into six quarters, the first of which is Schwitz, where the ordinary regency of the country resides. The sovereign is the whole country; that is to say, the sovereignty resides in the general assembly of the country, where all the males of sixteen years of age have a right of entry and suffrage.
Yet they have their Land-Amman,1 and their ordinary regency, at which the Land-Amman presides, composed of sixty counsellors, taken equally2 from the six districts. All the necessary officers are taken from this council.
There are, besides, the secret chamber, the chamber of seven, and the chamber of nine, for finance, justice, and police.
In the republic of the three leagues of the Grisons, the sovereign is all the people of a great part of the ancient Rhetia. This is called a democratical republic of three leagues. 1. The league of the Grisons. 2. The league Caddee.3 3. The league of Ten Jurisdictions. These three are united by the perpetual confederation of 1472, which has been several times renewed. The government resides sovereignly in the communities, where every thing is decided by the plurality of voices. These elect and instruct their deputies for the general diet, which is held once a year. Each league elects also its chief or president, who presides at the diets, each one in his league. The general diet assembles one year at Ilanz, in the league of the Grisons; one year at Coire, in the league Caddee; and one year at Davos, in the league of Ten Jurisdictions. There is another ordinary assembly, composed of chiefs, and of three deputies from each league, which is held at Coire, in the month of January. Besides these regular assemblies, they hold congresses whenever the necessities of the state require them; sometimes of the chiefs alone; sometimes of certain deputies from each league, according to the importance of the case. These assemblies are held at Coire. The three leagues form but one body in general affairs; and, although one league has more deputies than another, they count the voices without distinction of leagues.1 They conduct separately their particular affairs. Their country is thirty-five leagues in length and thirty in breadth.
Even in this happy country, where there is more equality than in almost any other, there are noble families, who, although they live like their neighbors by the cultivation of the earth, and think it no disgrace, are very proud of the immense antiquity of their descent, and boast of it, and value themselves upon it as much as Julius Cæsar did, who was descended from a goddess.2
THE UNITED PROVINCES OF THE LOW COUNTRIES.
There are in Friesland and Overyssell, and perhaps in the city of Dort, certain remnants of democratical powers, the fragments of an ancient edifice, which may possibly be reërected; but as there is nothing which favors M. Turgot’s idea, I shall pass over this country for the present.
[1 ]Twenty-seven square miles.
[2 ]This is in substance the language of Addison.
[1 ]History scarcely justifies this inference. In 1502, Cæsar Borgia threatened them. Sismondi says of this:—
[2 ]The council consists of sixty persons; forty of them chosen from the township, and twenty from the country.
[1 ]This appears to be an error.
[2 ]The practice of sending abroad for a judge was general among the Italian republics. The Duke, in the Merchant of Venice, says,—
[3 ]“Après le commissaire, viennent les deux juges d’appel qui revoient en seconde instance. Mais les causes peuvent encore être portées au conseil des douze, formé chaque année dans le sein du conseil-général des soixante. L’autorité de ce conseil de douze ne s’étend pas plus loin; il n’est convoqué que par les soins d’un rapporteur ou instructeur, nommé à l’effet d’examiner chaque cause, et chargé d’être arbitre dans les cas que les lois n’ont pas prévus.”
[1 ]“Les capitaines sont élus tous les six mois, par scrutin secret, au nombre de douze candidats, parmi lesquels les six qui ont le plus grand nombre de suffrages sont accouplés deux à deux par la voie du sort, et inscrits sur trois bulletins. Accompagnés des capitaines encore en fonctions, du camerlingue et des conseillers, ils sont conduits dans la piève et devant le maître-autel ou reposent les ossemens de Saint-Marino; l’archiprêtre chante le Te Deum, après quoi les trois bulletins sont déposés dans une urne; un jeune enfant en tire un qu’il remet entre les mains de l’officiant; celui-ci en fait la lecture à haute et intelligible voix, et les deux citoyens ainsi désignés par le sort sont légitimement capitaines.”
[1 ]“Il arrive souvent que les deux capitaines élus sont plébeïens, tandis qu’il est impossible que deux nobles le soient, les nobles faisant leur séjour dans la ville, et l’un des deux candidats étant toujours villageois, c’est à dire habitant de la campagne.” Saint-Hyppolite.
[2 ]They are chosen for life.
[1 ]It should be recollected that these were the States inclined to adopt M. Turgot’s theory.
[1 ]In the Essai Historique sur la République de San Marino, published in Paris, in 1827, by M. Auger-Saint-Hyppolite, the work already quoted, are to be found some strictures upon this sketch of the author. He says:—
[1 ]Probably German miles, fifteen to a degree. The latest statistical works give the surface of Appenzel at two hundred and fifty-six square miles, sixty to a degree.
[2 ]It should be remarked that this was a religious and not a political contest. The division which ensued has ever since marked a line of separation between the inner or catholic Appenzel, and the outer, which follows the reformed faith. The mediating cantons were six; three of them, Lucerne, Schwitz, and Underwalden, for the catholics; three, Zurich, Glarus, and Schaffhausen, for the reformers.
[1 ]This assembly consists of all the male citizens of the canton over the age of sixteen. It elects the four chiefs and the six other magistrates mentioned for the Exterior Rhodes.
[2 ]Now, three times a year, in spring and autumn, and one month before the meeting of the general assembly.
[3 ]Three times a year.
[1 ]These observations apply to the Exterior Rhodes. The organization of the Inner Appenzel is slightly different. The little council is composed of the first magistrates and of counsellors named from each Rhode. It is divided into three sections, sitting alternately, and each section is called the weekly council. The same principle of election prevails however throughout. The general assembly is said at times to have collected as many as eight thousand men.
[2 ]The system in substance here described, has survived all the struggles of the last century, and even the dictation of Napoleon. The profound attachment of the people to their ancient habits overcomes all opposition.
[3 ]One hundred and seventy-nine square miles. Durand, Statistique Elémentaire de la Suisse.
[1 ]In 1816, this canton was regularly divided into two, each having its own form of government. The age of citizenship was advanced in both to twenty.
[1 ]Each sect has its separate assembly. That of the catholics is held at Naefels. That of the protestants at Schwamden, eight days before the meeting of the general assembly.
[2 ]The stadtholder must, however, be named by that side to which the Land-Amman does not belong.
[3 ]Each sect has also its particular council.
[4 ]This would make a greater number than sixty. Some of the authorities speak of as many as eleven or twelve additional persons admitted in the same proportion as to their religious faith. The past Land-Ammans are also entitled to sit as members.
[1 ]The age is now nineteen.
[2 ]This assembly ordinarily numbers three thousand citizens.
[3 ]The constitution of Zug was remodelled in 1814, and some of the obnoxious features of unequal representation in the old system removed.
The triple or legislative council is composed of the fifty-four members of the cantonal, and one hundred and eight others, all chosen annually by their respective townships.
[1 ]Now twenty years.
[2 ]The district of Uri has ten communities; that of Urseren has one. Each of these chooses four members to the council, which is composed besides of the chief officers elected by the general assembly.
[1 ]And statthalter, elected biennially by the general assembly, by show of hands.
[2 ]The sixty counsellors are chosen from the district of Schwitz alone. The five other districts send thirty more; and these, with the chief officers chosen by the general assembly, are called the council.
[3 ]Casa Dei, God’s house.
[1 ]The grand council is now composed of sixty-five members, chosen for a year.
[2 ]“Corruption and influence are not in any national parliament more conspicuous than in the diet of the Grisons. For although, in general, those deputies, annually chosen by every male of a stated age, are subject to be controlled in their votes by written orders from their constituents, yet they frequently contrive to elude this restriction. Sometimes the instructions are drawn up, with the consent of the community, under the sole direction of the deputy himself; at other times, an exemption from positive instructions, and the power of voting at his own pleasure, is purchased by the deputy from his constituents. Sometimes, again, the deputy, although he may not have interest sufficient to gain either of these points, has still sufficient address to get his instructions so obscurely worded as to admit a doubtful interpretation.