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A. Plan of a State Constitution, .'
ciple of Self-government,)
of North America, .
Extract from the Constitution of the State of Kentucky,
ing to the principle of Self-government,.
1. The word, Self-government, is of American origin. Its meaning is, — Rational, candid and manly conduct and independence in our concerns, which does not admit the intern ference of others. It is the fruit of Liberty in America, and is but very little known in Europe and Asia.
Men are generally governed either by the sword, or by hereditary rulers; sometimes by ecclesiastical power, and again by landed, or feudal, or moneyed aristocracies;-and finally, by a skilful combination of these different material forces. We have had republics in Greece, Italy, Germany, Holland, France, &c.; there are a few left in Europe. If, however, we examine their policy, we shall find that it differs so much from that form of state government which we call self-government, that, to avoid mistake, we hesitate to apply the word Republic to our self-governments. The instability of all these fabrics proves that they were ill adapted to the nature and laws of human society. As human society is everlasting, states will be perpetual too, if their organization and policy are in harmony with the laws which are at the bottom of human society. We are satisfied that the Americans approached nearer to that end than any people before, when they based their States and Confederation upon the principle of self-government.
We intend to examine the present condition of the American States, to ascertain how far they really are in harmony with the principle of self-government, and if we should find this not to be the case, to show how they might be brought back into the right way. It is, therefore, perhaps superfluous to remark, that we consider a self-government, as it has been started in North America, as the only true form of government. Still, we cannot conceal, that, in the beginning, some faults were committed, and that in the course of time we have fallen back in many in
stances, inadvertently perhaps, upon the very track which, as history shows, guided to the downfall of bygone repubJics, instead of improving what was begun so nobly half a century ago. Thus we think it not superfluous to lead the attention of our readers to this most important subject.
2. Self-government is either personal or social.
3. Men acquire personal self-government by Education, Instruction, and Industry, in the most comprehensive sense of these words. By means of education, instruction and industry, and only with their help, we become intelligent, virtuous, useful and independent men, and able to govern ourselves for our benefit and that of others. The end of all education, instruction and industry, must be goodness, intelligence and independence, from which originates personal self-government.* It is true that virtue lies at the foundation of personal goodness; still the notion of virtue implies not exactly that energy of character which chiefly makes a self-governing man. Louis XVI., king of France, is said to have been a virtuous man, but most certainly he was not a self-governing man; otherwise he would have braved the storm of the French Revolution.
Thus, it is evident, that personal self-government is more than virtue. The notion we gave of self-government shows, that a self-governing man not only is a perfect man, but also a perfect member of human society, who does not permit himself to be guided by others, as they please, either by the sword or by any other force, because he is able, and always ready to guide himself personally alone, and, of course, will respect the same quality in others. Hence it follows, that personal self-government will have a thorough peaceable tendency. In proportion as personal or individual government becomes universal, in the same proportion social government will be less necessary.
4. Social self-government originates in families. Our race consists of families, and is perpetuated by them. They are the little natural states, where the labor of education and instruction is chiefly done, both of which lead to industry. Men who like the wild Indians are without education and instruction are also destitute of industry. The establishing of families, the providing of the manifold requisites for their support, the multifarious occupations hence originating, produce conflicts, which make forms and rules and
* Also called Self-control, Self-rule, Self-dominion.
laws necessary, the knowledge and observance of which are indispensable for self-government. All do not know them, and if they do, are not always inclined to obey them, (in consequence of want of personal self-government,) hence originates that kind of business, which generally is called public business, or civil government, state business, &c.
Where personal self-government in a great measure is wanting, as in Mexico or South America, and in most European countries, this public business (state business,) is rather in a deplorable state, and conducted mostly according to one or the other principles of physical force, which necessarily leads to subjection. It is in vain to expect that the public business will ever be done in a fair way among men who do not understand how to govern themselves, or, in other words, to take good care of themselves.
5. The (physical and moral) education of our young is the first business we have to examine in regard to the principle of self-government. It is one of the most important duties men have to accomplish, and requires chiefly the unwavering care and unceasing attention of woman, whereas they take no active part in public affairs. It is true that in America, education is left more nearly free than any where else. The interference of ecclesiastical institutions, perhaps only the Catholic excepted, is not of great consequence.
But there are nevertheless several instances, where the laws and activity of public officers are not in strict conformity with self-government in regard to the liberty of education. We mention first the Orphan Asylums. Orphans ought not to be crowded into houses together, but educated in families. Further, our states begin to interfere, more and more, with the liberty of education, in regard to elementary schools. It is the right and duty of parents (guardians,) to take care of the schooling of their offspring, and not the business of the state.
6. Instruction, the other great lever of self-government, may be either elementary, religious (churches,) moral, scientific, mechanic, or otherwise, and is also mostly depending on parents (guardians.) When they are not able to accomplish it alone they may engage teachers or masters to do it. True, self-governing men never will neglect this duty. The interference of states in the business of education and instruction leads to centralization,
to the adoption of narrow systems, to education for political purposes, to the increasing of state business and expenses, to political patronage, and to the alienation of the popular mind from the subject.
This liberty of instruction is indispensable for the practical development of our faculties. The comparatively universal diffusion of knowledge among all classes in the United States of America, is a product of this liberty. It awakes that eager spirit for information which seems to die away where governments take the lead ; or will be perverted or poisoned by politics, as is already the case in some of our states. The freemen in towns are at full liberty to establish town schools for all; they are at liberty to raise the expenses by direct taxation ; this is their busi
But the state herself has nothing to do with it. It is the same with scientific institutes. The avenues to science are at present so easy that every person may get all kinds of information if he only will make use of the means which surround him. State interference will lead to state religion, state medicine, state jurisprudence, state military schools, &c., which are all more apt to hinder, than to promote the natural progress of science. It is a part of the liberty of industry, to be a teacher and a master; both, if qualified, will find pupils. We do not take side with barbarism, but we know the tendencies of such state institutions too well not to be prepared to speak of them otherwise than with the highest distrust in regard to the liberty of instruction, and its bearing on self-government. We shall find hereafter opportunity to state, that acts of incorporation are against liberty of industry ; we therefore mention only in this connexion, that true science gains nothing by the incorporation of such institutions. Arts and sciences flourish most where left alone. We add, in the appendix, a plan of a constitution for a State, according to the principle of self-government. In section 2, it is said that no person shall have the right of suffrage who is not sufficiently able to read, write and speak the language in public use. Thus we may provide by a law for instruction. All other arrangements are better left to the people alone. If we allow governments to do more, it will be done at the expense of the liberty of instruction and wise economy, a principal object in our times. The same may be said of churches and church associations; as valuable as they are for the purpose of