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$59. The Constitution commences with the following declaration :
“We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this CONSTITUTION for the United States of America."
$ 60. This part of the Constitution has been termed the Preamble, though it was not so named by its framers. A preamble is the commencement of a statute, which declares the design or motives of the legislature in passing it. In the present instance it refers to some of the evils existing under the Articles of Confederation, and sets forth the benefits sought to be attained by the establishment of the new form of government.
$ 61. The objects which the people of the United States had in view in establishing the present Constitution, are · briefly stated to be six in number, as follow :
(1.) To form a more perfect union,
(6.) To secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity.
$ 62. The preamble is not an enacting part of the Constitution, but is in the nature of a recital. It does not grant any powers, nor does it enlarge or lessen any of the powers clearly given in the body of the Constitution. Its only purpose is to explain the objects or motives of the framers of the Constitution.
$ 63. There are three great departments of government: (1.) The Legislative. (2.) The Judicial. (3.) The Executive.
The Legislative enacts laws; the Judicial interprets and applies them; the Executive enforces them.
$ 64. The Constitution of the United States separates these three departments, makes each one independent of the others, and places them in different hands. The Constitutions of the States have also done so; for experience has shown that the separation of these powers is far more favourable to liberty than is their union in the same person. The first article of the Constitution treats of the legislative department; the second article, of the executive department; the third article, of the judicial.
ARTICLE I. The first article treats of the legislative department of the government.
“SECTION 1. All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”
$ 65. By the Articles of Confederation, the legislature consisted of only one body. Instances of a single legislative body are also found in the first Constitution of Georgia, and of Pennsylvania, and in the Constitution of Vermont prior to the amendments of 1828; but in the constitutional convention, all the States, except Pennsyl. vania, were in favour of dividing Congress into two distinct bodies—a Senate and a House of Representatives.
$ 56. In England, the Parliament consists not only of
the House of Lords and the House of Commons, but of the king in his political capacity. With us, Congress means the Senate and House of Representatives, and does not include the President.
$ 67. The advantages of vesting the legislative powers in two branches are chiefly the following. It is more apt to check hasty legislation and temporary excitement by delaying the final passage of a proposed law until there shall have been ample time for reflection and inquiry. It makes it less likely that laws will be passed from private and personal influence, for in a single assembly of men it generally happens that there are a few leaders who exercise great control over the others. It increases the probability that good laws will be passed, because they may be altered, and must be revised and concurred in, by a separate and independent body.
“SECTION 2. [Clause 1.] The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State. Legislature.”
$68. Under the Articles of Confederation, the delegates to Congress were appointed for one year, in such manner as the State legislatures should direct, with power reserved to the States to recall their delegates within the year, and send others in their place for the remainder of the year. (Art. V. § 1.) The delegates were, in fact, chosen by the State legislatures, except in Rhode Island and Connecti. cut, where they were chosen by the people. The Constitution changed this system by requiring the representatives
to be elected by the people of the several States, and by extending the term of service to two years.
$ 69. The Constitution does not prescribe uniform qualifications for those who may vote for representatives. The differences in the qualifications of voters in the several States were so great, and each State was so strongly attached to its own provisions on the subject, that an attempt to introduce uniformity of qualifications throughout all the States might have resulted in a rejection of the whole Constitution.
$ 70. This clause avoids the difficulty by declaring that all who are qualified to vote for members of the most numerous branch of the State legislature, shall be qualified to vote for representatives in Congress. If, therefore, we wish to ascertain what persons in a particular State are qualified to vote for members of Congress, we must consult the Constitution or laws of that State, and ascertain who are qualified to vote for members of the most numerous branch of the State legislature; the Constitution of the United States declares that the qualifications of the voters shall be the same in both cases.
$ 71. If popular elections take place at long intervals, they do not properly represent the will of the people ; if they are too frequent, society is kept in a state of excitement, and public measures become uncertain and fluctuating; besides, much• inconvenience is thus occasioned to communities spread over a large extent of territory, and expense is incurred and time lost in travelling to and from the place of voting.
$ 72. The period of service in the legislature should not be so long that members will begin to lose their feeling of responsibility to the people who have elected them; nor should it be so short as to expire just at the time they
have acquired a practical knowledge of public affairs and the details of business. A proper medium is to be selected between those two extremes.
$73. The framers of the Constitution thought that elections for representatives once in two years were sufficiently frequent; hence it is provided by this section that representatives shall be chosen every second year. In England, members of Parliament occupy their seats for seven years, which is the duration of each Parliament, unless dissolved sooner by the king. By the Articles of Confederation, the delegates to Congress were chosen every year. The Constitution went into operation, March 4, 1789, and the term of service in the House of Representatives consequently commenced at that time, and continued for two years. On the fourth day of March, therefore, in every other year, there is said to be a new Congress.*
* As in public documents and official proceedings, the Congresses are frequently referred to by their successive numbers, as the first, second, third, fourth, &c., it has been thought that the following table, showing the commencement of the first session of each Congress, will be found useful for reference: Assembled.
Assembled. 1st Congress...... ... March 4, 1789. 18th Congress ......... Dec. 1, 1823. 2d Congress ... ... ... Oct. 24, 1791. 19th Congress ......... Dec. 5, 18:25, 3d Congress ............ Dec. 2, 1793. | 20th Congress ......... Dec. 3, 1827. 4th Congress ......... Dec. 7, 1795. 21st Congress ......... Dec. 7, 1829. 5th Congress ......... May 15, 1797. 22d Congress............ Dec. 5, 1831. 6th Congress ......... Dec. 2, 1799. 23d Congress ............ Dec. 2, 1833. 7th Congress ...... March 4, 1801. 24th Congress ......... Dec. 7, 1835. 8th Congress...... ... Oct 17, 1803. 25th Congress......... Sept. 4, 1837. 9th Congress ......... Dec. 2, 1805. 26th Congress ......... Dec. 2, 1839. 10th Congress ......... Oct. 26, 1807. 27th Congress .........May 31, 1841. 11th Congress......... May 22, 1809. 28th Congress ......... Dec. 4, 1843. 12th Congress ......... Nov. 4, 1811. 29th Congress ......... Dec. 1, 1845. 13th Congress.......... May 24, 1813. | 30th Congress ......... Dec. 6, 1847. 11th Congress ......... Dec. 4, 1815. 31st Congress . ........ Dec. 3, 1849 15th Congress ......... Dec. 1, 1817. 32d Congress ......... Dec. 1, 1851. 16th Congress ......... Dec. 6, 1819. 33d Congress ............ Dec. 5, 1853 !7th Congress ......... Dec. 3, 1821.