Imagens das páginas
[ocr errors]

divisions apply more to men than to land, because they are devised for the sake of business, which otherwise cannot be done. Therefore no business should be drawn into the spheres of towns, counties, or states, which selfgoverning men can or may do for themselves. We all know that this is the broad foundation upon which true individual independence rests, but, notwithstanding, our policy and daily practice differ widely from it. We have made many laws, created many offices, expended great sums of money in direct violation of this principle. If we make it our policy and practice not to allow any business to town, county, or state officers which we may do for ourselves, the social and personal freedom and the development of our race, will never be hindered by this organization, but rather greatly promoted by it. It is wrong to say that the establishment of states requires the giving up of individual rights and privileges. We rather gain by them, because states, when organized in accordance with the principles of self-government, secure us a larger and safer sphere of activity than we could have without them. It was self-government or reason, which established forms and rules for our conduct, before we thought of states; and such forms and rules are by no means restrictions, but only directions for our conduct. Self-government is older than states; states cannot produce self-government, but, if abused, they will destroy it. It is therefore highly important to define accurately the town, county, and state business, that nothing may be there done to impair self-government. For this purpose written instruments, called Constitutions, are drawn up, wherein is stated, what kind of business belongs to the officers (agents, representatives,) of these districts, and what not. To show our meaning better, we have, in the appendix, added the plans of two constitutions, one for a state, and the other for a confederation of states, in conformity to the principles of self-government. If these constitutions are made in conformity with this principle, and do not contain prescriptions belonging to the sphere of (police, civil, and criminal) statute books, which, of course, will vary from time to time, they may be alike all over the civilized world, and seldom subject to alterations. The principal difference between our Northern and Southern states, produces a personal private business, inserted into the Southern constitution,-we mean slavery. Slavery has nothing to do with constitutions, states,

counties and towns, or the administration of justice; slaves are no public officers, governors, judges, or members of legislatures; they are laborers or servants-nothing else. There is no more reason why the Southern constitutions should contain a word concerning slaves, than there would be for the Constitution of Massachusetts to speak about the factory operatives in Lowell, and for the Federal Constitution about the laborers in the arsenals.*

We will here remark, that the existence of our Union depends chiefly upon the correct understanding of this subject.

9. Since families form society, (section 4,) and the performance of social or public business belongs naturally, exclusively to the family fathers, it follows, that to them exclusively belongs the right to elect public agents in town, county, and state. They exclusively have the right of suffrage. This important business requires an age where reason is (by education and instruction,) matured enough, and where industry has laid the foundation of financial independence. The age of twenty-one years is generally believed to be sufficient for this purpose. Town, county, and state business cannot be done without the help of speaking, writing, and printing; therefore à voter must be acquainted with the language in public use. Men who prove to be entirely unable to govern themselves, as the insane; or partially unfit, as drunkards, criminals, duelists; further, those who make use of physical force against unarmed officers; further, men without independent existence (town paupers, &c.,) ought to be excluded from voting. Immigrants may, in a certain time, perhaps after one year's residence in the country, be able to fulfill these conditions.

*These examples show, why objects which belong to the sphere of private business ought to be absolutely excluded from the constitutions. The more the constitutions are thronged with private business, the stronger will be the desire, either of abusing or overthrowing them. The European constitutions are in this respect more faulty than the American, and therefore more in danger of being abused or overthrown. They are, for the most part, but papers containing provisions for the private interests of the rulers and their families, concerning their income, possessions, immunities, responsi⚫ bilities, security by guards, armies, strong castles, fortresses, &c., which together they call rights of the crown. It is most remarkable that the illusion or humbug about the sacredness of these crown-rights has lasted until these days, when every man of a little common sense may easily comprehend, that they are only invented for the purpose of disguising the systematic extorting and amassing of money and riches.

10. From the principle of self-government, it follows, that all public business which may be better done in towns must not be devolved upon counties, and what may be better done in towns and counties ought not to be done by states or Congress.

11. The public business in towns is executed by the Selectmen, whose president is the Mayor, according to the resolves in town meetings, or laws enacted by the state. There is no need of making any difference between large towns, generally called cities, and less populous towns, in regard to the names and general organization of the offices. Selectmen are as well as aldermen; their business is the same, only more or less. Large towns may be divided, for the sake of business convenience, into smaller districts. The public business concerning a county, is performed by delegates, who may be called. Commissioners, with a president, perhaps called Overseer.


12. It may be best to establish an American common law, concerning the number of voters necessary to constitute a town, and the number of towns necessary for a county, as well as the number of counties constituting a state. It is unnecessary to mention, that only business convenience is the cause, and gives the measure for these districts, and not the notions of the middle age, nor crown titles, nor grants, nor sovereign power, nor political balance schemes, &c.

If those districts are made in conformity with the principle of self-government, the business done within them will be alike all over the world, as far as civilization reaches. Thus a town should not contain over two thousand voters; a county not over ten towns, or twenty thousand voters; and a state not over ten counties, or two hundred thousand voters. Such a division will be about right for the dispatch of public business every where. To make such districts with regard to business convenience, is, fortunately for selfgovernment, easy in North America, where self-government has been in practice for a while. But that is very different in Europe, is shown, among other instances of daily occurrence, by the struggle in Ireland for self-gov


But this deplorable state of society in Europe and Asia will improve, the more the system of self-government is brought to perfection in America. We are indebted to the blessings of self-government, that the separation of the

town of Alexandria from the district of Columbia, and its annexation to Virginia, does not produce war, which undoubtedly would be the case in Europe if the people of a part of a state should separate from it and annex themselves to another-because there, land is the principal thing which comes into consideration,—afterwards, the souls. He who owns the land (as sovereign,) owns the souls of the people living upon it. With us, no land comes in question in such instances, but only the freemen living upon it, and the business which they have to perform. What these resolve to do, in conformity with the laws, is right. This should be the case all over the world.

In states which are too small, as Rhode Island, Delaware, and Maryland, the business expenses will run comparatively too high. In too large states and towns the business will be done badly and over expensively, the personal participation of the freemen will become too difficult, the general interest in public affairs will languish, agitation will be over violent, public opinion too vague, and deception by designing men too practicable. If we are not mistaken in this regard, a state like that of New York ought to be divided into two states, and the town of New York districted into two or three towns, to facilitate the management of public business. In regard to public business, we have chiefly to ascertain the number of voters. These being only heads of families, we may always learn the average number of the inhabitants, by multiplying the number of voters by five. Children, or others unqualified for public business, as slaves or bound servants, &c., must not be counted. It follows that towns, counties and states will be divided only according to general principles or laws. The boundary lines should be regulated respectively, by state, county or town officers.

13. Differences about boundary lines will be easily settled by states or Congress, or, if necessary, by a vote of the freemen. But if such a dispute originates between a state and a foreign government, and Congress should not succeed in its adjustment,-in such an instance, it should be the American common law, that the freemen living on the disputed district decide to which state they wish to belong, or if they wish to form a state of their own. In this true self-governing way disputes like that in Maine or Texas should be terminated. The justness of such an American common law consists in its harmony with the

right of self-government, according to which towns, counties and states are made by freemen, and not by governments. If nobody lives upon such a district in dispute, the dispute itself is gratuitous and absurd, because where there are no people, there no government is needed. Thus much is certain, that this manner of treating such disputes will, among tolerably reasonable people, never lead to war.

If a foreign government should refuse to adjust such disputes in America, according to American public law, it may try to adjust them otherwise, perhaps by animal or physical force, guns and cannons. The freemen in danger of subjection may resolutely face the danger; they may, if they think proper, call for assistance; but, if from our side every thing is conducted in accordance with the true principle of self-government, reason and peace will prevail, and violence not be resorted to. We think that this way of settling such differences deserves the preference to arbitration.

14. It follows further from this principle, that we never must acknowledge a territorial right or domain of any government, our own, or foreign-because state-territorial rights involve society invariably in state-property conflicts and war. We again and again say, that states are made only for business sake, not for the purpose of giving up or acquiring landed property. This belongs exclusively to the owners. We have allowed Congress a kind of territorial right over the wild land in the West, and our states assume such rights over unoccupied land within their limits. These are against the well understood principles of self-government, and the whole system is a mere imitation of the pretensions of Asiatic-European governments. This deviation from our original system has involved our society in the greatest difficulties, among which the following are the principal:

1. This territorial system has caused repeatedly serious boundary disputes, of which that with Mexico has resulted

in war.

2. It has caused an immense amount of public expense, for which, unfortunately, the most useful freemen, the primitive settlers or pioneers, have been taxed.

3. It has checked immigration and deprived many of the means of cultivating wild land and establishing a home; or, when they had the money to pay for the wild or Congress-land, has retarded their success and prosperity

« AnteriorContinuar »