Skip to main content

Full text of "Political Science Of The State"

See other formats



affairs. This attached a successful candidate to his district;
it was a cord that sometimes pulled against the party ropes •
he felt that he might be called to account at the next mass
meeting for opinions expressed and promises given; he had,
in fact, placed over himself a body of watchmen and supervi-
sors of a far better kind than a general party had to offer.
Why should a system of self-nomination be disparaged, when
it has had full career in two of the manliest nations of the
world, Rome and England ? Has it led to bribery and trick-
eries at elections ? Not more than the other. Did it bring
inferior men into public magistracies at Rome, into parlia-
ment in England ? Undoubtedly family connection and influ-
ence have brought inferior men into public life in both coun-
tries ; but where can we find men superior to those to whom
the same method of self-nomination opened the way into long
and illustrious service of their country ?
In estimating the quality and characteristics of our political
life, we ought to consider that within seventy-five years uni-
versal suffrage has superseded property qualifications wherever
they existed (and they were known to all the early colonies),
and that immense numbers of uneducated foreigners have
spread over all the northern states, while the enfranchisement
of the colored people at the south has rendered the conferring
of the suffrage on them a practical necessity. The writer of
these lines was taught in his boyhood that a wide suffrage
was a very serious evil, and the doctrine continued to be com-
mon long after democracy was triumphant in national affairs.
James Kent and Martin Van Buren, of New York, the great
civilian and the democratic president, united in expressing
their apprehensions of it in a convention for revising the con-
stitution of New York, in 1822. At present multitudes have
the same faith, but regard it as hopeless to take steps back-
ward, unless at some future day socialistic agitations should
render restrictions on suffrage a measure of public safety;
and they put all their hopes for the future in a better educa-
tion—perhaps compulsory on all, and in an intelligent farming
population. Two states alone, we believe, make ability to