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for his services a compensation, to be established by law. New York this amounts to 8001. a year. In some States this is as low as 2001., and 3001. In Virginia it is 10001. In California, 12001.
The Governor can pardon, except in cases of treason. He has also a veto upon all bills sent up by the legislature. If he exercises this veto he returns the bill to the legislature with his reasons for so doing. If the bill on reconsideration by the Houses be again passed by a majority of two thirds in each House, it becomes law in spite of the Governor's veto. The veto of the President at Washington is of the same nature. Such are the powers of the Governor. But though they are very full, the Governor of each State does not practically exercise any great political power, nor is he, even politically, a great
You might live in a State during the whole term of his government and hardly hear of him. There is vested in him by the language of the constitution a much wider power than that intrusted to the Governors of our colonies. But in our colonies everybody talks, and thinks, and knows about the Governor. As far as the limits of the colony the Governor is a great man. But this is not the case with reference to the Governors in the different States..
The next article provides that the Governor's ministers, viz., the Secretary of State, the Comptroller, Treasurer, and Attor. ney-General, shall be chosen every two years at a general election. In this respect the State constitution differs from that of the national constitution. The President at Washington names his own ministers,-subject to the approbation of the Senate. He makes many other appointments with the same limitation. As regards these nominations in general, the Senate, I believe, is not slow to interfere; but with reference to the ministers it is understood that the names sent in by the President shall stand. Of the Secretary of State, Comptroller, &c., belonging to the different States, and who are elected by the people, in a general way one never hears. No doubt they attend their offices and take their pay, but they are not political personages.
The next article, No. VI., refers to the Judiciary, and is very complicated. After considerable study I have failed to understand it. The judges are elected by vote, and remain in office for, I believe, a term of eight years. In Sect. 20 of this article it is provided that—“No judicial officer, except Justices of the Peace, shall receive to his own use any fees or perquisites of office." . How pleasantly this enactment must sound in the ears of the justices of the peace.
Article VII. refers to fiscal matters, and is more especially interesting as showing how greatly the State of New York has depended on its canals for its wealth. These canals are the property of the State; and by this article it seems to be provided that they shall not only maintain themselves, but maintain to a considerable extent the State expenditure also, and stand in lieu of taxation. It is provided, section 6, that the “legislature shall not sell, lease, or otherwise dispose of any of the canals of the State; but that they shall remain the property of the State, and under its management for ever.” But in spite of its canals the State does not seem to be doing very well, for I see that in 1860, its income was 4,780,000 dollars, and its expenditure 5,100,000, whereas its debt was 32,500,000 dollars. Of all the States, Pennsylvania is the most indebted, Virginia is the second on the list, and New York the third. New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont, Delaware, and Texas, owe no State debts. All the other State ships have taken in ballast.
The militia is supposed to consist of all men capable of bearing arms, under forty-five years of
But no one need be enrolled, who from scruples of conscience is averse to bearing
At the present moment such scruples do not seem to be very general. Then follows, in Article XI., a detailed enactment as to the choosing of militia officers. It may be perhaps sufficient to say that the privates are to choose the captains and the subalterns; the captains and subalterns are to choose the field officers; and the field officers the brigadier-generals and inspectors of brigade. The Governor, however, with the consent of the Senate shall nominate all major-generals. Now that real soldiers have unfortunately become necessary the above plan has not been found to work well.
Such is the Constitution of the State of New York, which has been intended to work and does work quite separately from that of the United States. It will be seen that the purport has been to make it as widely democratic as possible,-to provide that all power of all description shall come directly from the people, and that such power shall return to the people at short intervals. The Senate and the Governor each remain for two years, but not for the same two years. If a new Senate commence its work in 1861, a new Governor will come in in 1862. But, nevertheless, there is in the form of Government as thus established an absence of that close and immediate responsibility which attends our ministers. When a man has been voted in, it seems that responsibility is over for the period of the required service. He has been chosen, and the country which
has chosen him is to trust that he will do his best. I do not know that this matters much with reference to the legislature or governments of the different States, for their State legislatures and governments are but puny powers; but in the legislature and government at Washington it does matter very much. But I shall have another opportunity of speaking on that subject.
Nothing has struck me so much in America as the fact that these State legislatures are puny powers. The absence of any tidings whatever of their doings across the water is a proof of this. Who has heard of the legislature of New York or of Massachusetts? It is boasted here that their insignificance is a sign of the well-being of the people;—that the smallness of the power necessary for carrying on the machine shows how beautifully the machine is organised, and how well it works. “It is better to have little governors than great governors," an American said to me once. “It is our glory that we know how to live without having great men over us to rule us.” That glory, if ever it were a glory, has come to an end. It seems to me that all these troubles have come upon the States because they have not placed high men in high places. The less of laws and the less of control the better, providing a people can go right with few laws and little control. One may say that no laws and no control would be best of all,-provided that none were needed. But this is not exactly the position of the American people.
The two professions of law-making and of governing have become unfashionable, low in estimation, and of no repute in the States. The municipal powers of the cities have not fallen into the hands of the leading men. The word politician has come to bear the meaning of political adventurer and almost of political blackleg. If A calls B a politician A intends to vilify B by so calling him. Whether or no the best citizens of a State will ever be induced to serve in the State legislature by a nobler consideration than that of pay, or by a higher tone of political morals than that now existing, I cannot say.
It seems to me that some great decrease in the numbers of the State legislators should be a first step towards such a consummation. There are not many men in each State who can afford to give up two or three months of the year to the State service for nothing; but it may be presumed that in each State there are a few. Those who are induced to devote their time by the payment of 60l., can hardly be the men most fitted for the purpose of legislation. It certainly has seemed to me that the
members of the State legislatures and of the State governments are not held in that respect and treated with that confidence to which, in the eyes of an Englishman, such functionaries should be held as entitled.
From New York we returned to Boston by Hartford, the capital, or one of the capitals of Connecticut. This proud little State is composed of two old provinces, of which Hartford and New Haven were the two metropolitan towns. Indeed there was a third colony called Saybrook, which was joined to Hartford. As neither of the two could of course give way when Hartford and New Haven were made into one, the houses of legislature and the seat of government are changed about, year by year. Connecticut is a very proud little State, and has a pleasant legend of its own stanchness in the old colonial days. In 1662 the colonies were united, and a charter was given to them by Charles II. But some years later, in 1686, when the bad days of James II. had come, this charter was considered to be too liberal, and order was given that it should be suspended. One Sir Edmund Andross had been appointed governor of all New England, and sent word from Boston to Connecticut that the charter itself should be given up to him. This the men of Connecticut refused to do. Whereupon Sir Edmund with a military following presented himself at their assembly, declared their governing
powers to be dissolved, and after much palaver caused the charter itself to be laid upon the table before him. The discussion had been long, having lasted. through the day into the night, and the room had been lighted with candles. "On a sudden each light disappeared, and Sir Edmund with his followers were in the dark. As a matter of course, when the light was restored the charter was gone, and Sir Edmund, the governor-general, was baffled, as all governors-general and all Sir Edmunds always are in such cases. The charter was gone, a gallant Çaptain Wadsworth having carried it off and hidden it in an oak tree. The charter was renewed when William III. came to the throne, and now hangs triumphantly in the State House at Hartford. The charter oak has, alas ! succumbed to the weather, but was standing a few years since. The men of Ilartford are very proud of their charter, and regard it as the parent of their existing liberties quite as
much as though no national revolution of their own had intervened.
And indeed the Northern States of the Union, especially those of New England, refer all their liberties to the old charters which they held from the mother-country. They rebelled, as they themselves would seem to say, and set themselves up as a separate people, not because the mother-country had refused to them by law sufficient liberty and sufficient self-control, but because the mother-country infringed the liberties and powers of self-control which she herself had given. The mother-country, so these States declare, had acted the part of Sir Edmund Andross, had endeavoured to take away their charters. So they also put out the lights, and took themselves to an oak tree of their own,—which is still standing, though winds from the infernal regions are now battering its branches. Long may it stand!
Whether the mother-country did or did not infringe the charters she had given, I will not here inquire. As to the nature of those alleged infringements, are they not written down to the number of twenty-seven in the Declaration of Independence? I have taken the liberty of appending this Declaration to the end of my book, and the twenty seven paragraphs may all be seen. They mostly begin with He. “He has done
" this, and “He” has done that. The “He” is poor George III., whose twenty-seven mortal sins against his transatlantic colonies are thus recapitulated. It would avail nothing to argue now whether those deeds were sins or virtues; nor would it have availed then. The child had grown up and was strong, and chose to go alone into the world. The young bird was fledged, and flew away. Poor George III. with his cackling was certainly not efficacious in restraining such a flight. But it is gratifying to see how this new people, when they had it in their power to change all their laws, to throw themselves upon any Utopian theory that the folly of a wild philanthropy could devise, to discard as abominable every vestige of English rule and English power,-it is gratifying to see that when they could have done all this, they did not do so, but preferred to cling to things English. Their old colonial limits were still to be the borders of their States. Their old charters were still to be regarded as the sources from whence their State powers had come.
The old laws were to remain in force. The prece dents of the English courts were to be held as legal precedents in the courts of the new nation, and are now so beld. It was still to be England, -but England without a King making his