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itself, quite beyond their control. I might show this by copious illustrations, but the fact will hardly be doubted. We sometimes hear from public speakers desirous of public favor that they are the servants of the people; but this is truer than they have perhaps supposed, and perhaps also in a different sense than they have thought. The people are really sovereign, and all our great national movements are obedient to the people's will; or perhaps more accurately, they are the way in which the people have become conscious of their own will.
This did not come from any original purpose on our part that it should be so. Mr. Elbridge Gerry declared, in the convention which framed our Constitution, that, in his judgment, “democracy is the worst of all political evils.”* “All our political evils in the United States," said Mr. Edmund Randolph, "are due to the turbulence and follies of democracy." + “The people," said Mr. Roger Sherman, “should have as little to do as may be with the government. They want information, and are constantly liable to be misled.” † It was largely owing to this distrust of the people—though other considerations also had weight—that the election of President was not committed to the people directly, but to a body of electors, themselves not necessarily chosen by the people, but appointed in each State in such manner as the legislature thereof might direct. In providing for the appointment of this body of electors, it was undoubtedly intended that they should act instead of the people, but the people have since altogether and directly assumed this responsibility for themselves. The election is by the people, and any interference with their choice would not now be tolerated, even if it were proposed. A presidential elector who should now fail to vote as his constituents have decreed, might not indeed subject himself to any judicial punishment, but the public condemnation would be sharper and sterner and more severely felt than judgments of courts could be. Such an elector would have falsified his trust and could not justify himself. The change thus brought about is a real revolution. It is a constitutional amendment secured without constitutional forms.
**Madison Papers,” pp. 756 and 1603. + Ibid., p. 758. 1 Ibid., p. 753.
But this is not only a fact; it is a very remarkable one. Democratic institutions have been before ours. The sovereignty of the people has been affirmed by many nations. Often elsewhere the rights of the people have been affirmed and exercised in the choice of their chief magistrates; but I believe it is the invariable history, before our experiment was made, that these rights have not been retained. The people possessing them have lost them. The particular reason for this might be stated differently in different cases, but the grand result remains, that while the popular choice in the appointment of the chief executive has elsewhere become obliterated, the American people have been steadily setting this in deeper lines. Whatever may be predicted, hoped, or feared therefrom, our history shows this peculiarity: the American people have been steadily gaining in the power which other people have as uniformly lost.
This sovereignty of the people is not the arbitrary choice of the people. As with all right sovereignty it is grounded in reason. We are wiser than some of our early affirmations would indicate. We at first declared that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed; but when eight millions in our Southern States took this ground, and the supreme moment came to test the national confidence in such a declaration, we renounced it, and by most costly sacrifice affirmed that governments derive their just powers from justice, and that in a government founded upon justice the consent of the governed should be the consent to obey. We have emerged from our great struggle with the doctrine clear and full that liberty is the product and not the creator of law, and that in any contest between these two the law must be maintained, not because it has been made by the liberty, but because the liberty itself finds its only ground and bulwark in the upmade righteousness of the law.
We may safely predict, therefore, that the sovereignty of the people in America will not tolerate the overthrow of government. Particular governments and particular statutes may often need changing with us, as the people become more conscious of what their real sovereignty requires. But we shall seek these changes by reform and not by revolution. The American people are not
likely to attempt the experiment of no government. They are a law-abiding people. The instinct of justice, inherent in all people, is with us unhampered. Though they may not see it with conscious discernment, or state it in formulated expression, the American people give abundant evidence that they feel the authority of justice, an authority which may lead them to set aside from time to time various statutes of their devising, but which will never suffer itself to be set aside. A party with anarchical tendencies will not be a successful party with us.
This sovereignty of the people is more than the rule of the majority, or the domination of a successful party. The majority or successful party may indicate the lines along which it is to move, but the sovereignty itself is in the will of the people, who demand that there shall be no tyranny either of one man or of one party over another, and who maintain that the rights of the minority are just as real, and should be cared for as sacredly, as those of the winning side. The sovereignty of the people does not tolerate class domination of any sort. To no people is the thought that special privileges in the state are due to a class, as such, so foreign as to ours. Hence it is that the party which allows itself to be dominated by a class, or which seeks to establish any class distinction, will be set aside. If a party seeks power for its own profit alone, if the result of a party contest is to be used mainly for the advantage of the winning party, that party will lose all that it has gained, if not more. The American people will not tolerate a class, even if it be as large as the winning party in a national election, which puts the enjoyment of any privilege on any narrower basis than that of a universal right.
This will indicate where the decision of the people is likely to be in the important interest of civil-service reform. To give political office as a reward for party service, or to seek to maintain a party ascendency by what are called party privileges, has unnumbered objections, but this most of all, that it is the affirmation of a class domination utterly intolerable. It may safely be said, therefore, that civil-service reform will remain an issue in American politics until it is settled, and that no settlement can be accomplished which does not wholly emancipate political office from the claim made to it by political partisanship. That
party will have in the end the largest suffrage whose success will contribute most to the overthrow of mere party privileges.
But the American people are not regardful simply of their own sovereignty. They have an outlook also beyond themselves, and a successful party with them, while national, must be international as well. It must have large human interests. We have larger human affiliations than any other people. In the blood of no other people have ever mingled streams from so many different sources as in ours. It is doubtless due in part, though not wholly, to this fact, that the narrowness, more or less exhibited in what are called “national traits,” largely disappears with us. The American mind is many-sided. Our most conspicuous national trait is the breadth of our human sympathy. We recognize our relationship to all the world. There have been nations whose intellectual vision has been more sharp-sighted than ours, but I know of none with so broad an outlook as the American. Nowhere has there ever been so much said and felt and done for human rights as with us, and nowhere else have a man's rights been set so lightly upon what distinguishes him from others and so largely upon what unites him with all mankind. We do not even claim our national privileges on the ground of our national peculiarities. The Athenian claimed his freedom because he was an Athenian, the Roman because he was a citizen of Rome, and the Englishman claims his because of Magna Charta and Habeas Corpus and the Bill of Rights; but we claim ours, not for the reason that we are Americans, but that we are men. Our Constitution is neither the basis nor the bulwark of our rights. We do not appeal to it for their defense, but only for their interpretation. The rights were ours before the Constitution, and the Constitution rests upon these, not they upon it. This fact makes another line of party success quite clear. The party which has the broadest human outlook, which is not seeking for privileges so much as for rights, and which seeks for rights, not for the few alone, nor for the many even, but for all, is the party to succeed.
The bearing of this upon our foreign relations and upon the doctrine of the tariff is not obscure. Our previously unexam. pled and still unparalleled human affiliations crave the broadest expression. Our thoughts and feelings go out to all the world. The organic unity of the race, which makes men everywhere fellow-members one of another, and by which it is impossible for one man or nation to find permanent benefit in what will not also inure to the advantage of all mankind, forbids any permanent attempt on our part to secure our independence by isolation. Arbitrary restraints upon trade, in the effort to build up our own independence at the expense of that of other nations, are foreign to the truly American instinct. Bars to immigration which the immigrant himself through his folly or his wrong has not erected, or which have not come through his hopeless weakness, we are not likely to maintain. A party with the war-cry, “America for Americans," mistakes the truly American idea, and any importance given it by sudden gusts of passion or excitement will not be permanent. That party with us is likely to be most successful in which the unerring instinct of the people finds the largest sense of our organic unity with all mankind.
It is also quite clear from our past history that the American people can be stirred more deeply by a moral question than by any other. It is not so much the expedient and the inexpedient which kindles them, but the right and the wrong. It was not the political expediency of separation from the mother-country, but it was the wrong of taxation without representation, which in. spired the purpose and secured the triumph of our independence. It was not the political inexpediency of slavery, but its injustice, its wrong, which stirred the North and set the nation in arms for its overthrow. I deem this a healthy sign of our national life, but I only note it now to illustrate the fact that the party which is to lead the nation will have an issue which can touch the conscience. That party is most likely to be uppermost in our politics which the conscience of the people will adjudge to be most worthy. A party which ignores moral issues because it is afraid to meet them, or which deems its mission to rest altogether with what seems expedient rather than with what is right, does not know the past, and is likely to mistake the present and the future, of American politics.
JULIUS H. SEELYE.