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legislators to a few monopohsts, it would extend to all
whose means, ability and energy might stimulate them to
compete for honors, wealth, or influence.

It is useless to attempt to conceal the almost universal
contempt into which legislative bodies have fallen ; and
nothing less than a prohibition of special legislation can
enable them to regain their original influence and position.

XIV.

THE INQUEST BY COMMON LAW JURY.
One of the most admirable contrivances of the common
law, was the inquest by a jury, carefuUy selected by



20 POLITICAL OPINION'S.

faithful counsel, and sworn to a faithful discharge of their
duties in the premises. The attention of modem statute-
makers is called to this fact; for, judging from their
miscellaneous manufacture of batches of commissioners,
and the nature of the duties they impose on boards of
supervisors and of aldermen, they need the reminder.
The following are examples of questions which might be
determined by such inquest, and the judgment of the
court thereon, at any term of any common law coui't,
viz. :

The necessity for taking private property for roads and
other public uses ; and the compensation which ought to
be paid therefor.

The amount of money required for various municipal
purposes.

The condition of public works, buildings, and institu-
tions ; and the manner in which the officers in charge
thereof have discharged their duties.

Such inquests, publicly held in open court, would not
only ascertain and declare, better than any other means,
the real truth of the matters to be investigated ; but
would also prevent the prevalent bribery and corruption
of the ex parte commissions which, according to present
practices, determine such questions in the back rooms of
beer-shops, and other equally convenient places.

XV.

MILITARY TRIBUNALS.

A military tribunal is not a court, in the judicial sense
of the terra. A trial by such tribunal, is simply an
executive inquest, like a sheriff's trial of the right of



POLITICAL OPINIONS. 21

property, or a coroner's inquiry. Sucli inquests are
permitted by the judiciary, and take place under its
supervision. For tlie posse comitatus, and tlie army, are
the same in kind ; and force is the servant, not the
master. The sheriff, the governor, the president, the
general, must protect the people and their rulers from
violence, and enforce the mandates of the law. The
president, assuming the existence of a state of facts
which would warrant it, may in the first instance declare
martial law or suspend the habeas corpus as an executive
act ; but the judge, exercising a power which the presi-
dent does not possess, may sit' in judgment on the action
of the executive officer, may find judicially that the facts
did not exist which would have justified the executive
action, and may declare that action unauthorized and
void.

The president need not wait for judicial or legislative
action till the government is overturned ; neither need
the judge suffer his power to be usurped by an executive
officer, or his functions to be suspended when he is able
to cause the process of his court to be executed within
his jurisdiction. The judiciary may see a conviction by
court martial, and permit the infliction of the penalty of
death; but if it should be represented to the judicial
authority, that the court martial was proceeding contrary
to law, that authority would have the right to interpose,
inspect the proceedings, and if erroneous, quash them,
and discharge the prisoner. Of course, where no courts
exist or where they have been in fact dispersed, the
iudicial supervision cannot be exercised, but the abstract
principle remains the same. A judge may make a wrong



22 POLITICAL OPINIONS.

decision — an executive officer may disregard a judicial
order, — the people take the chances of these mistakes;
but if an officer will make mistakes, they prefer to have
him make them within the limits of his own department.

XYI.

THE APPOINTMENT OF PROVISIONAL GOVERNORS.

The President is the chief executive hand of the nation.
It is his duty to see that the laws be faithfolly executed.
He cannot enact a law, nor can he create an office. But
finding the office of governor of a state vacant, and that
a rebellion has introduced anarchy so that there are no
proper officers to succeed to that vacancy, he may, as an
executive act, install, provisionally, a governor de facto
to hold and exercise the office, till a governor de jure
shall be ready to receive it from his hands. That pro-
visional governor may, in hke manner and for the like
purpose, fill all the other offices in the state, for he is
the chief executive officer of the state. To this rule
there is the exception that the executive cannot appoint
provisional officers to enact new laws. The executive
protects, but it does not create.

XYII.

THE IMMEDIATE CAUSE OF THE REBELLION — A NEGRO
TERRITORY.

The immediate cause of the Rebellion, was the loss
of the equilibrium in the Senate. The Southern states
had struggled, almost a generation, to preserve their
power in that body. The rapid and inevitable increase of
Northwestern states, soon made it apparent that there



POLITICAL OPINIONS. 23

■would be a permanent majority of senators from tlie free
states. Southern politicians had perceived that the
moment such a majority, however small, should take the
dominion of the Senate, the institution of slavery would
be doomed to extermination. The history of the country
is a record of the encroachments of free labor on slave
territory. The rebellion only precipitated what was
inevitable. The relative merits of northern and southern
society have been tried by battle, the highest arbitrament
known to nations. The people who would not have the
negro, have demonstrated their superior power, resourcQp,
and glory. The suppression of the rebellion, is a solemn
decree against the negro. He has not been able to
maintain himself m any fi-ee state, and now all the
states are free. Nothing remains for him but a Negro
Territory, "We have given a territory to the Indian, we
must provide one for the Negro.

XVIII.

THE EFFECT OF THE WAR ON PARTY POLITICS.

The war will produce, or rather will call into the field,
a new race of political leaders. Before the rebelhon, it
seemed as though the American people had forgotten,
both how to command, and how to obey. They elevated
knaves, vagabonds, and criminals to ofl&ce by their votes.
They committed the conduct and control of elections to
the vagrants, the rabble, and the mob of society. By
their action, they practically excluded the wisest and the
best men from political conventions and management
All this will be changed. The great generals, and the



24 POLITICAL OPINIONS.

great armies tliat have conquered the rebellion, will cany
their military discipline and vigor into political aflfau'S ;
and truly great civilians will be found to administer the
offices of the Eepublic.

Men will again be selected as party leaders, because
they are above their fellows, not because they are below
them. Offices and honors will again seek the men ; and
the men when they accept them, will be masters, not
mendicants.

The lust of power which led the South into rebellion,
and the lust of gain which corrupted the North, will be
subdued in the hearts of the people, as they have been
overcome on the field of battle. The glory of the first,
and the peace of the second generation of the Eepublic,
will return.



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Online LibraryA citizen of the United StatesPolitical opinions → online text (page 2 of 2)