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of the inhabitants of any given terri- to prevent its adoption by single inditory, have the right, if dissatisfied viduals, and to make it not absurd for with the existing organism, to come an individual to say to the State, “I together, informally, without any refer- disown you; I am my own State; I ence to existing authorities, and insti- ask nothing of you, and I will concede tute a new form of government, which you nothing. I am a man; I am my shall legitimately supersede the old, own sovereign, and you have no auand 10 which all ihe inhabitants of the thority over me but by my consent. territory shall owe allegiance! Admit That consent I have never given; or if this doctrine, and we ask our friends I have heretofore given it, I now with. who have, we must believe, hastily draw it. You have, then, no right and without reflection adopted it, what over me, and if you attempt to control distinction they would make between me you are a tyrant.” This is no fancy the people and the mob?
sketch. This language we have ac
tually heard used in sober earnest, by Let us look at this doctrine of popu- one who knew very well what he was lar sovereignty for moment. We saying, and who so strongly believed say, for instance, if the people of Mas- in what he was saying, that he has sachusetts do not like their present chosen to suffer himself to be put form of government, they may make in gaol rather than to acknowledge the such alterations, acting through the authority of the tate by paying a tax. existing forms, as they choose. These Once proclaim the absolute sovereignty alterations, wise or unwise, would be of the people, acting without reference legal, and binding upon the citizen. to political organisms, that is as a mass But, suppose a number of individuals, of individuals, or once proclaim, as the dissatisfied with the existing provi. Governor of New Hampshire does in sions of the Constitution, should call a his letter to the Governor, or acting meeting of individuals, who should Governor of Rhode Island, that the frame a new Constitution, send it out, people are “ sovereigns," that is, makand indeed obtain for it a majority of ing each individual a sovereign, and the voies in what is now the State of you can exercise through the State no Massachusetts; this new Constitution, authority over any man, not even 10 according to the doctrine we are con- punish him for the greatest social ofsidering, would be the supreme law of fences, without his consent. Your colthe land. Be it so. But why restrict lector goes with his tax bill, the indithis to a majority of the inhabitants of vidual rightly exclaims, “ Away, I the State ? The men who are form- know you not.” A family is living in ing the new Constitution must of open violation of the laws of God, you course assume the nullity of the old, at send your police to arrest them; they least so far as their action is con- have a right to answer, “We are sovecerned, and also so far as it concerns reign; we do not acknowledge our the adoption of the new Constitution. obligation to obey your sovereign; we Assume the nullity of the Constitution, are not accountable to your laws; we and where would be Massachusetts ? have formed our own constitution, and There would be, in a political sense, make our own laws; we hold to selfno Massachusetts at all. Why, then, government.” The good sense of all cannot the new doctrine be applied to parties, of course, would arrest the a section as well as to the whole terri- application of the doctrine long before tory? Why may not the majority of it could come to this extent; but to the inhabitants of what is now a coun- this extent the doctrine we combat ty, a town, or a school district, if they may be legitimately carried; and in choose, set up the same theory, and this fact we may and ought to see its form and enforce a Constitution for radical unsoundness. themselves ? Outside of the existing organism there is no State, county, For ourselves, we object to the defitown, or school district, for these are nition of Democracy which makes it all creations of the existing organism. consist in the sovereignty of the people. Then we see not what there is to pre- The sovereignty of the people, in the vent the application of the doctrine to sense commonly contended for, we themselves by any number of individuo , own we do not admit. The people, as als who choose.' Nay, what is there an aggregate of individuals, are not
sovereign, and the only sense in which bleness of the end, almost always they are sovereign at all, is when or- blind them to the true character and ganized into a state, or body politic, tendency of the means by which they and acting through its forms. No seek to gain it. They become intent action of the inhabitants of a given on the end, so intent as to be worked territory, even if it include ninety-nine up to a passion for it,--for the people out of a hundred of all the individuals, never act but in a passion,—and then is done by the PEOPLE, unless done in in going to it, they break down everyand through the forms prescribed by thing which obstructs or hinders their the political organism; and all action progress. Now, what they break down, done in opposition to that organism, no ihough in the way of gaining that pari matter how many are engaged in it, is ticular end, may after all be our only the action of the mob, disorderly, ille- guaranty of other ends altogether more gal, and to a greater or less degree valuable. Here is the danger. What criminal, treasonable in fact, and as more desirable than personal freedom? such legitimately punishable.
What more noble than to strike off the
fetters of the slave ? Aye, but if, in We do not wish to be too severe on striking off his feliers, you trample on the advocates of the doctrine we op- the constitution and laws, which are pose. It has been with most of them your only guaranty of freedom for only a momentary error, and which, ihose who are now free, and also for though pelting us unmercifully for ex- those you propose to make free, what posing it, they will quietly abandon, do you gain to freedom? Great wrong and without confessing it, seel shame may be done in seeking even a good for ever having advocated. Confident end, if we look not well to the means of this, we give them leave to say all we adopt. Philanthropy itself not unthe hard things of us they please; for frequently is so intent on the end, that we acknowledge that for a moment we in going to it, it tramples down more too fell into the same error. Our sym- rights than it vindicates by success. pathy with the end which we saw a por- We own, therefore, that the older we tion of our friends struggling to gain, and grow, and the longer we study in that by means which were justifiable only school, the only one in which fools on the doctrine in question, blinded us will learn, the more danger do we see for a time, as we presume it has in popular passions, and the less is our others, to ihe real character of the confidence in the wisdom and virtue of doctrine itself. Let this confession the people. suffice for us and for our brethren. They of course will not accede to it, “ But what is our resource against but we venture to predict, that, as the all these evils? What remedy do you excitement of the struggle to which propose ?" These are fair questions, we have alluded subsides, and matters but we do not propose to answer them reassume their orderly and peaceful now. We may hereafter undertake course, there will be found few so bold to do it, and what we shall have to say as to reiterate the doctrine.
will be arranged under the heads of
the Constitution, the Church, and InBut the fact that this doctrine has dividual Statesmen. Without an been put forth, in sober earnest, by men efficient Constitution, which is not only in high places as well as by men in low an instrument through which the peoplaces, is itself an argument in our ple govern, but which is a power ihat favor, and goes to prove that the peo- governs them, by effectually confining ple are not io be relied on so implicitly their action to certain specific subjects, as some of our democratic friends pre- there is and can be no good governlend. The case we have had in mind, ment, no individual liberty. Without strikingly illustrates the sort of dan- the influence of wise and patriotic ger to which, under a democracy, in- statesmen, whose importance, in our terpreted to mean the absolute sover- adulation of the people as a mass, we eignty of the people, we are peculiarly have underrated, and without the and at all times exposed. The ends Christian Church exerting the hallowthe people seek to gain, are, we will- ed and hallowing influences of Christingly admit, for the most part just and ianity upon the people both as individdesirable ; but the justice and desira- uals and as the body politic, we see
VOL. XII.-NO. LVIII.
little hope, even with the best con- always divided into two parties, one of stitution, of securing the blessings of which may be called the Stationary Parfreedom and good government. But ty, the other the Movement Party, or these are matters into the discussion of Party of Progress. Perhaps it is so; if so, which we cannot now enter. Our pur- all of us who have any just conceptions pose in this Article has been to draw of our manhood, and of our duty to our the attention of our political friends to fellow-men, must arrange ourselves on certain heresies of doctrine which are the side of the Movement. But the springing up amongst us, and enlisting Movement itself is divided into two quite too much sympathy, and which sections,-one the radical section, we believe pregnant with mischief. seeking progress by destruction; the
other ihe conservative section, seeking Democracy, in our judgment, has progress through and in obedience to been wrongly defined to be a form of existing institutions. Without asking governmeni; it should be understood whether the rule applies beyond our of the end, rather than of the means, own country, we contend that the conand be regarded as a principle rather servative section is the only one that a than a form. The end we are to aim wise man can call his own. In youth we at, is the Freedom and progress of all feel differently. We find evil around men, especially of the poorest and most us; we are in a dungeon ; loaded all numerous class. He is a democrat over with chains; we cannot make a who goes for the highest moral, intel- single free movement; and we utter lectual, and physical elevation of the one long, loud, indignant protest against great mass of the people, especially of whatever is. We feel ihen that we the laboring population, in distinction can advance religion only by destroying from a special devotion to the interests the Church; learning only by breaking and pleasures of the wealthier, more down the universities ; and freedom refined, or more distinguished few. only by abolishing the State. Well, But the means by which this elevation this is one method of progress; but is to be obtained, are not necessarily we ask, has it ever been known io be the institution of the purely democratic successful ? Suppose that we succeed form of government. Here has been in demolishing the old edifice, in sweepour mistake. We have been quite too ing away all that the human race has ready to conclude that if we only once been accumulating for the last six succeed in establishing Democracy, - thousand years, what have we gained ? universal suffrage and eligibility, with- Why, we are back where we were six out constitutional restraints on the thousand years ago; and without any power of the people,-as a form of assurance that the human race will not government, the end will follow as a re-assume its old course and rebuild matter of course. The considerations what we have destroyed. we have adduced, we think prove to the contrary
As we grow older, sadder, and wiser, and pass
from Idealists to Realists, we In coming to this conclusion, it will change all this, and learn that the only be seen that we differ from our friends true way of carrying the race forward not in regard to the end, but in regard is through its existing institutions. Wel to the means. We believe, and this is plant ourselves, if on the sad, still on the point on which we insist, that the the firm reality of things, and content end, freedom and progress, will not be ourselves with gaining what can be secured by this loose radicalism with gained with the means existing instituregard to popular sovereigniy, and tions furnish. We seek to advance rethese demagogical boasts of the virtueligion through and in obedience to the and intelligence of the people, which Church; law and social well-being have begun to be so fashionable. They through and in obedience to the State. who are seeking to advance the cause Let it not be said that in adopting this of humanity by warring against all ex- last course, we change sides, leave the isting institutions, religious, civil, or po- Movement, and go over to the Stalitical, do seem to us to be warring tionary Party. No such thing. We against the very end they wish to gain. do not thus in age forget the dreams of
our youth. It is because we rememIt has been said, that mankind are ber those dreams, because young en
thusiasm has become firm and settled Here is the practical lesson we have principle, and youthful hopes positive sought to unfold. While we accept convictions, and because we would re- the end our democratic friends seek, alize what we dared dream, when we while we feel our lot is bound up with first looked forth on the face of hu- theirs, we have wished to impress manity, that we cease to exclaim“ Lib- upon their minds, that we are to gain erty against Order," and substitute the that end only through fixed and estabpractical formula, “ LIBERTY ONLY IN lished order; not against authority, AND THROUGH ORDER. The love of but by and in obedience to authority, liberty loses none of its intensity. In and an authority competent to ordain the true manly heart it burns deeper and to guaranty it. Liberty without and clearer with age, but it burns to the guaranties of Authority, would be enlighien and to warnı, not to con the worst of tyrannies.
VERILY, verily, we must confess, that to guide to atoning victory on some the preceding paper has somewhat se. early and more auspicious day. Mr. verely tested our firmness and good Brownson, if he did not strike it to the faith in adhering to the special agree. enemy, seems at least to have impament by which, when the Boston Quar- tiently torn off and cast away, in dis. terly became merged into the capa- gust and angry recantation, one of the cious depth of the Democratic, its distin- best and brightest of the mottoes inguished editor, as a correspondent to the scribed on its broad and beautiful field. latter, was to retain a full and free Against this desecration of our glorious “ liberty of speech and of the press," old oriflamme, we hold ourselves in the articles to proceed from his bound, in love to it and loyalty to all powerful pen-on his individual re, it represents, to enter our most emsponsibility-unrestrained by the usual phatic protest. editorial censorship necessary to secure What if the People did make a that general harmony and consistency blunder in 1840—who claims, either proper to a work of this character. for them or for any intelligence below
We are sorry to perceive that in the the highest, the attribute of infallibiligeneral disaster of 1940, Mr. Brown- ly? To err is human-will not Mr. son lost so much more than we did - Brownson remember the rest of the that is to say, not only the election, noble line, and divinely forgive it?with all his hopes for the ascendency after all the atonement which time has of the men and measures of his pre- not been tardy to bring, for the unhappy ference, but also his good humor with mistake wbich has thus stirred his his party, and his confidence in the prin- wrath against Democracy and the Peociple of popular self-government. He ple. Nations like individuals are liawas twice, nay tenfold, more unfortu- ble to their occasional moments de nate than we were. In the very hour vertige. Even the good Homer can of overthrow, up from what seemed sometimes nod. There is a great deal then the very bottomless pit of defeat, of apology to be made for the People we were able to raise an undismayed, for their conduct in 1840,---and we an undisheartened voice—de profundis will not stand by and hear them thus clamavi-which neither the groans of abused. Tell it not in Gath-proclaim vanquished friends nor the shouts of it not in the streets of Ascalon-let no exultant foes could drown, of contented inkling of our present confidential whisacquiescence in the wise chastening of per get out beyond the inner sanctums Providence, and unshaken confidence of our own private party caucusesin all the principles we had brought let every Democratic reader of the into the contest. We at least bore off present page, on the approach of any our flag from the field, undisgraced by suspicious looking character bearing surrender or abandonment, and with the faintest resemblance to a possible all its fair blazonry untarnished save by Whig, incontinently thrust it out of honorable dust, and as ready as ever sight, as in by-gone times he would
precipitate the “Scottish Chiefs,” or long enough. It was time for a change ihe - Children of the Abbey,” under of men at least—and that election was his desk at school, on the approach of not made to hinge on any proposed and the master,—and now, when thus se- discussed change of measures. (We cure against the vicinity of any eaves are fain to contess indeed that we did dropping ear from the enemy's camp, not see this truth at the time in quite the spirit moves us mightily to con- the same aspect of luminous distincio · fess,-yea, even us, the Democratic Re- ness which it now wears). The atview-ihat, instead of meriting for the mosphere had necessarily become a act the phials of indignation and disgust little close--a very, very little-and it which Mr. Brownson pours on their, was time perhaps to open the doors and devoted heads, the People, in turning windows of the palace of power, for a us out neck and heels as they did so short time, for the sake of venulation. very unceremoniously in 1840, acted It was time for a Reform party, fresh just about right. Ii was all for the from the pure professions and promises best, as runs the old saying under all' of an Opposition, to go in, simply for
such afilicting dispensations. The deep the sake of a change,-and this was and far-reaching instinct of the popu- the capacity in which, par excellence, lar sagacity which willed and did it, the Whigs offered themselves to the was far wiser than were we who then People in that canvass, under the lead struggled against it, than Mr. Brown. of an old patriot soldier, whose person is wh
now deplores it. By that sonal honesty and goodness of purpose very act, they have done the besi thing at least were unquestionable. The possible at the time to vindicate their great Bank and Currency question claim to competency for that very self- which had for the previous ten years, government against which it has led in one form or another, constituted the him thus to protest.
dividing line of parties, was now gen. In all the previous campaigns of the erally considered as pretty well seuiled. long protracied struggle of the Money The Independent Treasury was estabPower against the Government, begin- lished; and such deep and wide diver. ning with Jackson's reëlection on ihe sities of opinion respecting any substiVeto question, and extending in four tute were seen to exist among the vabiennial periods to 1838, or the election rious sections of the Whigs, that there of the Independent Treasury Congress, appeared little likelihood of success 10 we had prevailed through all the dis- any attempt that might be made to advantages which at times oppressed overthrow it for the adoption of any us, and ihrough all the temporary fiuc- other fiscal system. The number thus tuations of the popular mind. These reasoning was by no means inconsideracampaigns or elections had all turned ble among those who contributed by on distinct issues of measures and prin- their votes to the change of adminis. ciples, though all indeed connected tration which it was decreed should with the great question lying at the take place. Nor was it in a mere bottom of the whole, the re-charter of spirit of fickleness that that simple a National Bank; and in all of them change was desired by so many. The the People well justified in the end jealousy of too protracted a tenure of even when, as in 1837, they had at office and power is a wholesome demofirst wavered-that sieady confidence cratic sentiment. Nor did it seem on which we always relied, in their quite fair, in the providential distribuhonest sagacity of judgment. In the tion of the good things of life, that the fifth and lası, ihe contest of 1840, the one half of the nation, as the party of fortune of the war was indeed re- dominant majority, should for the life versed; but it was mainly because, of its public men, to the hopeless exwhile the election was not allowed by clusion of the other, monopolize the the Whigs to turn upon any distinct enjoy ment of the Government, and all issues of principle, there were really and sundry the incidents and appurtesome very good and proper reasons, pances thereto. Fair play and turn underlying the whole surface of the about!--give them a chance, poor apparent relations of parties, why the devils, once at least in a dozen years !change of hands which it effected there is a broad and strong idea shashould be made and ought to be made. dowed forth in these phrases, coarse and
The truth is, that we had held the common as they may be, which did no possession of the Federal Government small share of ibe work of 1840. And