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has marked American political philosophy, so far as there has been any such thing, ever since. It is very much easier than the method which requires a laborious study of history.
The natural effect of the war, but still more of the doctrines in regard to liberty taught by Paine, and of the deplorable policy of local terrorism pursued by the Committees of Safety against Tories and Refugees, was to produce and bring into prominence a class of active shallow men, who felt their new powers and privileges, but not the responsibility which ought to go with these. The old colonial bureaucracy, which had enjoyed all the social pre-eminence which colonial life permitted, was gone. Office was open to many who, before the war, had little chance of attaining it. They sought it eagerly, expecting to enjoy the social advantages they had formerly envied. In the Northern States a class of eager office-seekers arose who gained a great influence, saw their arena in the States especially, and jealously opposed the power of the Confederation. This class made hatred to England almost a religion, and testified to their political virtues by persecuting Tories and Refugees. · They found popular grievances also ready to their hand as a means of advancement. The mass of the people had been impoverished by the war. The attempts at commercial war had reacted upon the nation with great severity. The paper issues of the Congress and the States had wrought their work to derange values, violate contracts, inflate credit, and destroy confidence. On the return of peace the industries which had been sustained only by war ceased to be profitable, the reduction of prices spread general ruin, and left thousands indebted and impoverished. The consequence was discontent and disorder. All this was heightened by the contrast with another class which had been enriched by privateering, contracts, and “financiering.” The soldier who returned in rags, bringing only a few bits of scrip worth fifteen or twenty cents on the dollar, found his family in want, and some of his neighbors, who had borne few of the sacrifices of the war, enriched by it, and now enjoying its fruits. It seemed to this whole class that they had not yet got liberty, or that they did not know what it was. They did not look for it to a closer union.
This party, for it soon became a party, found an alliance in
a quarter where it would hardly have been expected, in the slave-owning planters of the South, -- an alliance which has been of immense importance in our political history. The planters, at the outbreak of the war, had been heavily indebted to English capitalists and merchants. , They now feared that they would be compelled to pay their debts, and they saw in the treaty-making power of the general government the source from which this compulsion would come. They therefore opposed any union which would strengthen and give vigor to that power. To this party were added those who had adopted, on theoretical and philosophical grounds, the enthusiasm for liberty which was then prevalent in both hemispheres. It should be added to the characteristics of this party that it looked with indifference upon foreign commerce, cared little for foreign opinion, would have been glad to be isolated from the Old World, and had very crude opinions as to the status and relations of European nations.
This party naturally went on to confound liberty with equality, and to confound political virtue with tenacity of rights. It furthermore confounded power with privilege, and thought that it must allow no civil power or authority to exist, if it meant really to exterminate aristocratic privilege. It was not so clear in its conception of political duties, and certainly failed to see that the best citizen is not the one who is most tenacious of his political rights, but the one who is most faithful to his political duties ; that envy and jealousy are not political virtues; and that equality can only be attained by cutting off every social advance, and making the standard, not what is highest, but what is a low average. - An opposing party gradually formed itself of men of wider information and superior training. These men understood the institutions of Great Britain and their contrast to those of any other country in Europe. They understood just what the war had done for the Colonies. They did not consider that it had altered the internal institutions inherited from the mother country, or set the Colonies adrift upon a sea of political speculation to try to find a political Utopia. Some of them joined for a time in the prevalent opinion that the Americans were better and purer than the rest of mankind, but experience soon VOL. CXXII. NO. 250.
taught them their error. Tradition and experience still had weight with them; and, in making innovations, they sought development rather than destruction and reconstruction. They were conservative by property, education, and character.
To this party it was evident that the Colonies had lost much by falling out of the place in the family of nations which they had filled as part of the British Empire, and they believed that a similar place must now be won on an independent footing. They understood the necessity of well-regulated foreign relations, of foreign commerce, and of public credit. Their general effort was, therefore, to secure order and peace in the internal relations of the country by establishing liberty indeed, but liberty under law, and to secure respectability and respect abroad by fidelity to treaties and pecuniary engagements, by a reputation for commercial integrity, and by a development of the arts of peace. The first requisite to all this was a more perfect union.
The two parties, therefore, formed about the issue of a revision of the Articles of Confederation, but it was not until the absolute necessity of the objects aimed at by the Federalists objects which are in their nature less directly obvious and tangible - had been demonstrated by experience, that this revision was brought about. The Union was not the result of a free and spontaneous effort, but it was “extorted from the grinding necessity of a reluctant people.” A political party which resists a proposed movement by predicting calamitous results to flow from it must abide by the verdict of history. Tried by this test, the anti-Federalists are convicted of resisting the most salutary action in our political history. The victory was won, not by writing critical essays about the movement and the relations of parties, but by the direct and energetic activity of those men of that generation who had enjoyed the greatest advantages of education and culture.
Three evils were inherited under the new Constitution from the old system: slavery (which the framers of the Constitution tolerated, thinking it on the decline), paper-money (which they thought they had eradicated), and the mercantile theories of political economy. These three evils, in their single or combined development, have given character to the whole subsequent political history of the country. One of them has been eliminated by a civil war. The other two confront us as the great political issues of to-day.
The framers of the Constitution, without having any precise • definition of a republic in mind, knew well that it differed from
a democracy. No one of them was a democrat. They were,! at the time of framing the Constitution, under an especial dread of democracy, on account of the rebellion in Massachusetts. They meant to make a Constitution in order to establish organized or articulated liberty, giving guaranties for it which should protect it from popular tyranny as much as from personal despotism. Indeed, they recognized the former as a great danger, the latter as a delusion. They therefore established a constitutional republic. The essential feature of such a system of government (for it is a system of government, and not a political theory) is that political power be conferred under a temporary and defeasible tenure. That it be conferred by popular election is not essential, although it is convenient in many cases. This method was the one naturally indicated by the circumstances of the United States. The system which was established did not pretend to give direct effect to public opinion according to its fluctuations. It rather interposed delays and checks in order to secure deliberation, and it aimed to give expression to public opinion only after it was matured. It sought to eliminate prejudice and passion by prescribing beforehand methods which seemed just in themselves, independently of conflicting interests, in order that, when a case arose, no advantage of procedure might be offered to either party ; and it aimed to subject action to organs whose operation should be as impersonal as it is possible for the operation of political
organs to be. á Democracy, on the other hand, has for its essential feature
equality, and it confers power on a numerical majority of equal political units. It is not a system of government for a state with any but the narrowest limits. On a wider field it is a theory as to the depositary of sovereignty. It seizes upon majority rule, which is only a practical expedient for getting a decision where something must be done, and a unanimous judgment as to what ought to be done is impossible, and it makes
this majority the depositary of sovereignty, under the name of the sovereignty of the people. This sovereign, however, is as likely as any despot to aggrandize itself, and to promulgate the unformulated doctrines of the divine right of the sovereign majority to rule, the duty of passive obedience in the minority, and that the majority can do no wrong.
Opposition to the Federal Constitution died out in a year or two, and no one could be found who would confess that he had resisted its adoption. Parties divided on questions of detail and of interpretation, and the points on which they differed were those by which the Constitution imposed delays and restraints upon the popular will. The administrations of Washington and Adams threw continually increasing weight in favor of constitutional guaranties, as the history of the French Revolution seemed to the Federalists to furnish more and more convincing proofs of the dangers of unbridled democracy. The opposition saw nothing in that history save the extravagant ebullitions of a people new to freedom, and saw rather examples to be imitated than dangers to be shunned. Sympathy and gratitude came in to exercise a weighty influence on political issues. The personal executive and the judiciary were the chief subjects of dislike, and General Washington himself finally incurred abuse more wanton and severe than any President since has endured, except the elder Adams, because the fact was recognized that Washington's personality was the strongest bulwark which the system possessed at the outset.
Democracy, however, was, and still is, so deeply rooted in the physical and economic circumstances of the United States, that the constitutional barriers set up against it have proved feeble and vain. Fears of monarchy have now almost ceased or are ridiculed,
Monarchist and aristocrat are now used only as epithets to put down some over-bold critic of our political system; but in the early days of the Republic the mass of the people believed that the supporters of the first two administrations desired aristocracy and monarchy. In a new country, however, with unlimited land, the substantial equality of the people in property, culture, and social position is inevitable. Political equality follows naturally. Democracy is given in the circumstances of the case. The yeoman farmer is the