Imatges de pągina
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nature, states by law. How unfortunate would be a family in which every member should insist, obstinately, on his right! How unfortunate have been those nations, which have left every thing to the kindness and paternal care of their rulers, and have not insisted, obstinately, on their rights! In very many instances, nations have prepared the way for the loss of their liberties by the concessions into which they have been hurried by gratitude towards great national benefactors, or those whom they have regarded as such. The greatest favor that monarchs could bestow on nations, would be to give up all favor, to make justice the only rule of government. V. To return to the subject of representative constitutions. These may be divided into, 1, such as are founded on the union of the feudal estates, the clergy, nobility, citizens and peasantry; the two latter of which derive their right of representation from the charters of the ancient corporations: 2, such as establish the right of a general representation, like the American constitution, and such as partake of both characters, like the British constitution. Those of the first class either originated in the feudal times, or have been since copied from such as did. Our limits will not allow us to discuss the mode in which the estates grew up and became the basis of these constitutions. (See Estates.) We will only observe, that external causes exerted here their usual influence; that the feudal states were conglomerates of many heterogeneous bodies; and that it was reserved for later ages to unfold the true principles of government; to separate the essential from the unessential and injurious; to give stability, distinctness and extent to principles before unsettled, indefinite and limited in their operation. The causes, however, which produced the feudal constitutions, and established the division of estates, have almost all ceased to operate long ago. The art of printing, schools, post-offices, and an improved sense of justice, have long since overthrown the barrier which separated the different classes; and the constitutions which still remain, founded on the idea of estates, are equally unjust and inconsistent with the spirit of the age, conferring, as they do, exclusive privileges on particular classes, when almost all the causes for which they were originally granted have ceased. They are remnants of times long gone by, and are kept up either by the influence of the privileged aristocracy, or by the belief of particular nations, that circumstances are unfavorable to a gen

eral representation; or they have been reestablished for the express purpose of counteracting the spirit of the age.

The democratic tendency of time must be acknowledged by every calm and unprejudiced observer, whether he thinks the effect good or bad, whether he belongs to the class which deems all virtue and nobleness of character concentrated in the middle ages, to those who believe in the final perfection of mankind, or to those who have no standard for measuring the state of a nation but statistical tables. Every thing, from the fashion of the dress to the cultivation of the intellect, tends to a democratic equality. The turning point in the history of constitutions, from whence we must date the introduction into practice of the principles of general representation, is the establishment of the constitutions of the thirteen first U. States. France then adopted the same principles; and it will remain for ever one of the most prominent facts in the history of Napoleon, that wherever he became completely master of a country, he abolished the estates, and, of course, bondage and feudal services, and established constitutions on the principle of general representation, although these, it is true, were not allowed to act freely. Europe, until the downfall of Napoleon, was continually involved in wars, into which the French emperor declared that England continually forced him. Whatever may have been the true cause of these continual conflicts, it cannot be denied, that, if the tumult of the strife had not prevented the operation of the just principles which these constitutions contained, they would have been of essential benefit: they would, at least, have formed a basis for further political developements; and, though they might have appeared deficient, to a man accustomed to the liberty of the U. States, they would, at all events, have furnished a much more reasonable prospect of a speedy attainment of the great objects of political society, than the constitutions, if they deserve the name, which the conquerors of Napoleon have established in, or rather imposed on, different countries; e. g., the provincial estates which Prussia has established in her different districts, and the political organization which the house of Austria has introduced into the Tyrol, which had sacrificed itself in a bloody struggle for that imperial family. These mock constitutions, together with the right of armed intervention, proclaimed by the holy alliance, are so entirely inconsistent with the spirit of the age, that

they afford no hopes of improvement except by their entire abolition. Napoleon, as one of the emperor's nearest connexions, who stood highest in his confidence, said to us, was essentially, by conviction and natural inclination, the enemy of feudalism, and the sincere friend of the principles of equal liberty. It must always be remembered, that he abolished every where, by one of his first acts, wherever his power reached, the feudal services, estates and constitutions, founded on the old corporations, which had become useless or obnoxious, and were, with very few exceptions, much more unpopular than the actual rulers. We shall now give a very condensed view of the existing constitutions, including a more particular survey of those of the U. States. Europe. I. Constitutions founded on the feudal estates of the middle ages, and on the system of corporations, continue to exist, 1. in the Austrian monarchy. a. In the arch-duchy of Lower Austria, in Stiria and Carinthia, in Bohemia, Moravia, and, since 1817, also in Galicia and Lodomeria with Bukowine, the estates are still kept up, comprising the four orders the clergy, nobility, gentry (Ritterstand) and citizens; the latter being represented by the magistrates of the royal cities. In the Tyrol, we find again, since March 24, 1816, the estates of peasants, citizens, nobility, gentry and clergy. But, notwithstanding their gallant struggle against the French and Bavarians, they have not even received from Austria the right of a voice in the imposition of their own taxes, which formerly belonged to them; but the constitution allows them the right of making representations, in the name of the country, to the emperor! In the imperial part of Silesia, the estates are composed only of the dukes and princes, with the lords (Standesherren) and gentry (Ritterschaft), who are immediately under the emperor. b. In the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom, the estates are founded, according to the constitution of April 24, 1815, on the system of corporations. Two central congregations exist at Milan and Venice: the different provincial congregations in the Lombardic part of the kingdom consist of deputies appointed by the king; in the Venetian part, of deputies elected by the central congregation and the gubernium (the Austrian designation of the government). All these deputies are from among the noble and not noble landed proprietors, and from the royal cities, under the sway of the imperial governors or delegates. The privileges of these estates consist almost

solely in the right of granting the royal postulates, and in the distribution and collection of the taxes. Some have also the right of advising the government, and that of petitioning. c. In Hungary, the four orders of the estates-the high clergy, the barons and magnates, the gentry (Ritterschaft) and royal free cities-have important privileges. (See Hungary.) The nobility or gentry and the cities elect their deputies and give them instructions. d. In Transylvania, or Siebenbürgen, the grand-prince exercises certain rights of sovereignty, assisted by the representatives of the three nations (the Hungarians, Szeklers and Saxons) whom he convokes. These representatives consist partly of royal officers, partly of deputies appointed by the regent or elected by the corporations. 2. Sardinian monarchy. On the island of Sardinia, the clergy, nobility and deputies of the cities and boroughs exercise, together with the king, the right of legislating and taxing. 3. In the kingdom of Sweden, there exist, according to the latest constitution of June 7, 1809, the old estates, comprising four ordersthe nobility, clergy, citizens and crownpeasants. The diet has the right of legislation and taxation, and the superintendence of the finances, bank and mint. The king has an unconditional veto. 4. In the kingdom of Saxony, the estates are composed of three orders. The first order consists of the higher clergy, or prelates, princes, counts and lords, with the deputies of the university of Leipsic. The second order embraces the gentry, to which, since 1820, twenty-nine deputies also have been joined from the possessors of noble estates.* The third order consists of deputies from the magistrates of the cities. The business of granting and fixing the taxes, and of receiving the accounts connected therewith, belongs to the diet: important laws of a general character must also be laid before them for consideration. 5. A similar constitution exists in the duchy of Saxe-Gotha, in which the legislative body consists of the estates of the counts, the gentry (Ritterschaft) and the citizens. Each of these estates has only one vote. The principality of Altenburg has two estates-the gentry and the citi zens. 6. In the kingdom of Hanover, the estates were, according to a decree of Dec 7, 1819, divided into two chambers. The

* Noble estate (in German, Rittergut) is such an estate as formerly could, or, in some countries, still can, be held by a nobleman only. Prussia has abolished this condition of tenure, so that commoners can buy such estates.

old system of corporations was retained. (See Hanover.) 7. In the principality of Liechtenstein, a constitution after 'the Austrian fashion was introduced, Nov. 9, 1818. The estates consist of the clergy and the deputies from the communities, appointed by the magistrates. Their power is simply to make propositions. 8. In the two grand-duchies of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and M. Strelitz, the estates consist of the Ritterschaft and deputies of the corporations. They have very great privileges, which the former particularly maintains with great strictness. 9. In the principalities of Reuss, the old estates also exist, as, likewise, 10. in the Danish duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg. 11. The republic of the seven Ionian islands was erected March 21, 1800, and governed according to the aristocratic constitution, established, under Russian influence, Dec. 6, 1803. When the republic was placed under the protection of Great Britain, the lord-commissioner, Maitland, dissolved the senate, which had existed at Corfu since 1803, and established a new constitution Jan. 1, 1818, according to which the legislative body consists of deputies of the nobility, and the senate is chosen from among the legislative body. II. The constitution of Great Britain is founded jointly upon the old system of corporations, that of estates, and that of a general national representation. (See Great Britain.) III. A national representation, in the full sense of the phrase, was first established in the year 1787, by the constitution of the U. States. The reader will find, towards the end of this article, an abstract of the constitutions of the several states which compose this union. Constitutions in which the aristocratic element was exIcluded were soon after established in France. Several other states then shook off the fetters of the feudal system, and introduced more or less of the democratic element into the constitutions which they adopted. During the last half century, there have been 114 new, written constitutions established in Europe and America: 31 of them have been abolished, but the remainder still exist, and about 100 millions of people are ruled by them.-A. France has seen, since the revolution, nine different constitutions:-1. The monarchical-representative constitution of 1791. 2. The republican-democratic constitution of June 24, 1793. This never went wholly into operation, much power being given, for the time, to dictatorial bodies. 3. The constitution of Sept. 23, 1795, which established the directorial 40

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government, and divided the legislative body of the national convention into the council of the ancients and the council of the five hundred. It vested the right of electing the representatives immediately in the primary assemblies. 4. The constitution of Dec. 13, 1799, established a first consul for ten years, with the right of proposing laws, and two other consuls. The first consul (Bonaparte) was rounded by a council of state and ministers. A triple election was, at the same time, established. The citizens of each commune chose one tenth of their number as persons qualified for public office; the aggregate of the persons thus named in all the communes of a department chose also one tenth of their number; and from the whole body of persons thus nominated by all the departments, forming the national list of persons eligible to official situations, the conservative senate chose the legislators, tribunes, consuls, the members of the court of cassation, and the commissioners of accounts. In this instrument, the principles of the liberty of the press, and others of a similar kind, which had been guarantied in the former constitution, were omitted. 5. Many essential changes were soon after made in this constitution by the various senatus-consultes organiques, so called. These decrees of the senate, of Aug. 2 and 4, 1802, gave the first consul, Napoleon Bonaparte, his dignity for life, and invested him with several monarchical prerogatives. 6. At last, the senatus-consulte of May 18, 1804, elevated the first consul to the dignity of emperor of the French, and the succession was made hereditary in his family. France had now a monarchical constitution with some democratic forms: one of these-the tribunate-was abolished by the senatus-consulte organique of Aug. 19, 1807. The equality of all citizens, in the eye of the law, was a principle preserved in all the French constitutions, and even the Bourbons were obliged to make it a prominent feature in the Charte constitutionnelle. 7. After the downfall of Napoleon, the senate drew up a new constitution, of April 6, 1814, in which an aristocracy, hereditary in the families of the senators, was established. It guarantied, however, in several respects, the liberties of the people. But Louis XVIII, as it is well known, adopted, at St. Ouen, May 2, 1814, only certain principles of this constitution, relating to the representative system in two bodies, the responsibility of the ministers, the judges' tenure of office during good behavior, the irrevo

cability of the sale of the national property, the capacity of every Frenchman for all civil and military appointments, and, as before mentioned, the equality of all citizens in the eye of the law. 8. After this, the king promulgated, June 4, 1814, the present constitution, the Charte constitutionnelle (q. v.), which had been drawn up by a committee appointed by him. It established a chamber of peers, to be elected by the king, and a chamber of deputies, to be chosen by electoral colleges. These two bodies, together with the king, were to form the legislature. But this instrument left many points unsettled, which allowed full play to machinations of all kinds. 9. After the return of Napoleon from Elba, the emperor promulgated a new constitutional instrument, as an addition to the imperial constitution, April 22, 1815. This was adopted by the people, in June, on the occasion of the celebrated Champ de Mai. When Louis XVIII returned to Paris, the Charte went again into operation. By the electoral law of June 28, 1820, the democratic element of this fundamental law, as respects the representation of the people, has been essentially weakened, or rather thrown out; as, in a population of 35,000,000, there are only 70,000 electors, and only 5 or 6 thousand who can be elected. The law of June 9, 1824, established septennial elections of the chamber of deputies, though the Charte had limited their term of office to five years.—B. In the Netherlands, similar changes took place. An act of arbitrary power was necessary to overcome the opposition of the federal party to the friends of union (democrats), before the first constitution of the Batavian republic, fashioned after the French constitution, was accepted, April 23, 1798, by the national assembly. The second constitution, of Oct. 16, 1801, was fashioned after the fourth French constitution, of 1799. Under the influence of Napoleon, the Batavian republic received the third constitution, of March 15, 1805, by which a pensionary of the state was put at the head of the government. Only a few points were necessary to be changed, when the treaty with France, of May 24, 1806, connected the new kingdom of Holland most intimately with France. This was done by the constitutional law of the kingdom of Holland, of June 10, 1806, which remained in force until 1810, when Holland was made part of the French empire (July 9). In Dec., 1813, the son of the last stadtholder, the present king William I, was acknowledged as sovereign

of the Netherlands. He convoked the notables in March, 1814, who accepted the constitution proposed by him. Thus the kingdom of the Netherlands, established by the congress of Vienna, received its fifth constitution, Aug. 24, 1815, which, in spite of the opposition of the Catholic notables of Belgium, went into operation, in the Belgian provinces, in 1815, and is, therefore, the fundamental law of all the 17 provinces of the kingdom. This constitution is founded on the basis of the representative system. The states-general, who represent the people of the Netherlands, exercise, in connexion with the king, the legislative power, and determine the budget, consist of two chambers. The members of the first are chosen by the king for life; those of the second, by the estates of the provinces, for three years. The provinces have three estates-the gentry, the citizens and peasants.-C. Poland was, until 1791, an aristocratico-monarchical republic; in fact, it might be called an aristocratic republic, because the king elected had very little power. The first step towards a more popular constitution was the charter given to the cities in April 14, 1791, which gained the favor of them all towards the new order of things. Soon after, the constitution of May 3, 1791, was adopted, and it is remarkable that it was finished four months before the first French constitution; but the confederation of Targowitz, formed under Catharine II, destroyed this instrument, and reëstablished the old order of things. At a later period, Napoleon, at the peace of Tilsit, created the duchy of Warsaw, and gave it a constitution, signed by him, Dresden, July 22, 1807, which, among other things, abolished bondage, and pronounced the equality of all citizens in the eye of the law. After the connexion of the kingdom of Poland with Russia, by the congress of Vienna, the emperor Alexander adopted, April 30, 1815, the title of king of Poland, and gave this kingdom a constitution, Nov. 27, 1815, which established a national representation, in a diet consisting of the king and two houses of legislature. The senate forms the first chamber, chosen by the king; the second chamber consists of 77 deputies of the land-holders and 51 depu ties of the communities. The constitution guarantied, also, the liberty of the press, which, however, has been long since suspended. The republic of Cracow, erected by the congress of Vienna, also received, May 3, 1815, a constitution, signed by the princes Metternich and Hardenberg, and

count Rasumoffsky. The assembly of the representatives of this little republic consists of the deputies of the communities, each of which chooses one, three members of the senate sent by this body, which has the executive power, three prelates sent by the chapter, three doctors of the faculties of the university, and six justices of the peace.-D. Sweden and Norway have two entirely different constitutions, though both countries are under one king. We made mention of the Swedish constitution above. Norway adopted a constitution of a mixed democratic and monarchical character, May 17, 1814, after the peace of Kiel, Jan. 14, 1814, had been concluded. The present king of Sweden, after having invaded Norway, and conquered it, assented to the whole constitution, with those modifications only which necessarily grew out of the connexion of Norway with Sweden under one monarch. These particulars were settled by the storthing (diet) held at Christiania, Nov. 4, 1814, so that the present constitution is called the constitution of Nov. 4, 1814. Nobility is abolished. The storthing, or legislative body, consists of two houses the logthing and the oldesthing. (See Norway)-E. The old forms of the Spanish monarchy were first called to life again by the junta (assembled at Bayonne, under the influence of Napoleon), who drew up and adopted the constitution of July 6, 1808, at the time when Joseph Bonaparte became king of Spain. But the regency, which governed in the name of Ferdinand VII, proclaimed a new constitution, March 19, 1812 the constitution of the Cortes which, however, was abolished by Ferdinand VII, on his return to Spain, by his declaration at Valencia, May 4, 1814, but again accepted and sworn to by him, March 7, 1820, to which he was compelled by the army. This instrument not only abolished the old feudal and hierarchical forms of government, but it likewise limited considerably the powers of the king; so much that a strong party in Spain espoused his cause, and four of the first continental powers declared themselves, at the congress of Verona, in December, 1822, against the constitution, and maintained that the authority of the king ought to be strengthened. According to the 375th article of the constitution, however, such a change could take place only after the constitution had been in operation for eight years. France declared war against Spain, and abolished the constitution of the cortes in 1823. (See Cortes.) Portugal, likewise, received, by the revolution

which began Aug. 24, 1820, a constitution similar to that of Spain. It limited the 'power of the king, however, still more. The cortes at Lisbon drew it up, and the king swore to it Oct. 1, 1822." But another military revolution (May 27, 1823) abolished this instrument. April 23, 1826, don Pedro, emperor of Brazil, gave a new constitution, which, however, was abolished by his brother, the usurper of his throne, don Miguel, who, in order to surround himself with some of the appearances of a legitimate sovereign, renewed some of the forms of the old estates. (See Portugal.) In Naples, the army proclaimed the Spanish constitution, which was sworn to by the king July 13, 1820. The parliament of the Two Sicilies was convened Oct. 1, 1820, and drew up a new constitution, on the basis of the Spanish, in January, 1821; but, in consequence of the entrance of an Austrian army into Naples, conformably to the resolutions of the congress of Laybach, this constitution was abolished in March, 1821. The same thing happened in Piedmont, where the Spanish constitution was proclaimed, March 10, 1821, but abolished by the Austrian army, which entered Turin April 10, 1821.-F. Italy, which, for many centuries, has been the theatre of political conflict and bloody revolutions, has also experienced more changes, in respect to the constitutional representations of her people, than any other country. a. Savoy, Nice and Piedmont were governed, from the years 1796 and 1798 to 1814, according to the constitutions drawn up for France. Since 1814, the king has governed without the cooperation of popular representatives. Genoa lost her ancient aristocratic constitution in 1797, and received, through the influence of general Bonaparte, in the convention at Montebello, of June 6, 1797, a democratic constitution, which lasted from Dec. 2, 1797, to 1802, when its place was supplied by a constitution modelled after that of the Cisalpine republic, and signed by Bonaparte and Talleyrand, June 26, 1802; but a new constitutional law of Dec. 1, 1802, remodelled it again. June 4, 1805, the Ligurian republic was incorporated with France; and Genoa did not receive again her old name until lord Bentinck, April 19, 1814, in the name of Great Britain, proclaimed the restoration of her old aristocratic republican constitution; but the congress at Vienna abolished this, and gave the republic of Genoa, as a duchy, to the king of Sardinia, by which an end was put to her representative government; but the new duchy received a

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