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widely scattered and less visible. The electorate is better, not merely because it includes the country districts, but because the larger the voting area, the freer will be the result from personal jobbing and intrigue. The Legislature sits but for a portion of the year, and, under the present system of committee government, out of sight and mostly out of mind of its constituents. But apart from these and similar considerations, and taking as an example the government of Massachusetts, with which the present writer is more familiar, he believes that its working organization is decidedly worse than that of the city of Boston, and he has a strong impression that the same is true of the other States and cities of the United States.
If there is one lesson to be drawn from the history of popular government in the last hundred years, it is of the danger arising from the preponderance in power of legislative bodies. It is to be remembered that government representative of universal suffrage never existed in the world till this century. It is as purely a modern discovery as the use of electricity and steam, and the machinery for working it was just as little known. Already the Long Parliament in England gave a foretaste of what was impending when it came to its end through the military rule of Cromwell. anarchy of the legislative assemblies which undertook to govern after the downfall of the old French monarchy, led first to the despotism of the Committee of Public Safety, and then to that of Napoleon. After three-quarters of a century of preponderant executive power, the third republic has held its own longer than any government since the first revolution, but it is drifting to almost visible shipwreck from the weakness of executive power and the predominance of a legislature split into factions and torn by anarchy.
The danger was clearly enough perceived a century ago. Madison said in the convention of 1787: "Experience proves a tendency in our governments to throw all power into the legislative vortex. The executives of the States are little
more than ciphers; the legislatures are omnipotent. If no effectual check can be devised on the encroachments of the latter, a revolution will be inevitable," and again: "The tendency of republican governments is to aggrandize the leg-' islature at the expense of the other departments." So, in the Federalist, speaking of the State constitutions, he says: "The legislative department is everywhere extending the sphere of its activity and drawing all power into its impetuThe founders of our republic seem never to have recollected the danger from legislative usurpations, which, by assembling all power in the same hands, must lead to the same tyranny as is threatened by executive usurpations." And he quotes from Jefferson's "Notes on Virginia" the following passage relative to the same defects in the Virginia constitution: "All the powers of the government-legislative, executive and judiciary-result to the same legislative body. The concentrating these in the same hands is precisely the definition of despotic government. It will be no alleviation that these powers will be exercised by a plurality of hands and not by a single one." So in the convention of 1787 "Wilson, of Pennsylvania, was most apprehensive that the legislature, by swallowing up all the other powers, would lead to a dissolution of the government; no adequate self-defensive power having been granted either to the executive or the judicial departments."
Judge Story says: There is a natural tendency in the legislative department to intrude upon the rights and absorb the powers of the other departments of the government. A mere parchment delineation of the boundaries of each is wholly insufficient for the protection of the weaker branch, as the executive unquestionably is, and hence there arises a constitutional necessity of arming it with powers for its own defence." And Smyth in his lectures on modern history, written in 1811, from an English standpoint, says: "If there results to America a grand calamity and failure of the whole, it can only accrue from the friends of liberty not venturing
to render the executive power sufficiently effective-the common mistake of all popular governments."
"The legislature," says Bancroft in his “United States,” was the centre of the system. The governor had no power to dissolve it or either branch. In most of the States all important civil and military officers were elected by the legislature. The scanty power intrusted to the governor, whereever his power was more than a shadow, was still further restrained by an executive council. Where the governor had the nomination of officers, they could be commissioned only by consent of the council."* Of this antiquated instrument for emasculation of the executive, I believe that Massachusetts can boast, with two exceptions, the only surviving example. We may conclude this evidence with a quotation from Bagehot's "English Constitution: " English Constitution:" "A legislative chamber is greedy and covetous; it acquires as much, it concedes as little as possible. The passions of its members are its rulers; the law-making faculty, the most comprehensive of the imperial faculties is its instrument; it will take the administration if it can take it."
Not only has the century since elapsed fully justified all these predictions, but it has developed the inability, which was not then so obvious, of the legislatures, after they have seized the reins of government, to carry it on. It has shown that these large bodies of men, without discipline and without leaders, have almost no capacity for good, but unbounded for evil; that, however high may be the character of the individual members, the body as a whole falls, first into weakness, then into anarchy and then into corruption; that it becomes a prey to faction and intrigue, that good men are more reluctant and bad men more eager to enter it. This part of the subject cannot be summed up better than by a reference to the remarkable work of Professor Woodrow
* I am indebted for these quotations to a pamphlet upon "American Constitutions," by Horace Davis, of San Francisco, published by the Johns Hopkins University in 1885.
Wilson on "Congressional Government," which, though written only for the condition of things at Washington, is just as applicable to the forty-four States, because the evil in them is precisely the same in kind, and even exaggerated in degree, the predominance of the legislature.
That the people throughout the country have come to distrust and fear the legislatures is evident from the tendency of constitution making and amendment, which is steadily toward restricting the powers of the legislatures. According to the pamphlet of Mr. Davis, already referred to, out of thirty-eight State constitutions in 1885, twenty-five allowed the legislature to come together only in every other year; eighteen limited the length of the session to periods varying from forty to ninety days;* in eleven, the legislature in special sessions could take up only the subjects named in the call; twenty-five required that all bills should be read on three separate days; in twenty-seven, bills must contain only one subject, expressed in the title; six prohibited general or salary bills from containing anything else; twenty-three prohibited amendment of any act by title, the full text must be quoted; nineteen required that all bills must be passed by a majority of the members elected, voting by ayes and noes; thirty embodied in their constitutions provisions forbidding special legislation, twenty totally and ten partially. But such attempts must fail to effect any permanent or adequate reform, much for the same reason that it is useless to try to repair a leaking dam by plastering it from the outside.
The same tendency is shown in efforts to improve the character of the legislatures. Such are minority and proportional
*It is singular that in Europe the constitutional tendency is to fix a minimum and not a maximum for the length of legislative sessions. Thus in France it must be not less than five months; in Sweden four months, unless the popular Chamber votes to adjourn earlier; in Portugal, not less than three months, and the same in Japan; in Belgium forty days; in the Netherlands twenty days. This is, of course, a guarantee against executive power. In Denmark, however, the guarantee is taken against the Legislature and not against the Executive, the former being forbidden to remain in session longer than two months without the consent of the King. See "Traité de Droit electoral et parlementaire," by Eugene Peirre, Sec. 497.
representation, compulsory voting, female suffrage, acts to prevent bribery and corruption, urgent appeals to the voters to attend the primaries, better education of the people, and so on. But these, again, cannot reach the want, because the main difficulty is not in the composition of the legislatures, but in their usurpation of executive power, and the fatal effects upon their character of their attempts to wield it. A notable instance of this appears in the so-called Australian ballot, which it is hardly an exaggeration to speak of as one of the best general political measures introduced since the adoption of the constitution. It has done wonders for the purity of elections, but it has not in the slightest degree affected the inability of the legislatures to take the place of the executive power, which yet they insist upon doing.
The real remedy is to draw the line clearly between executive and legislative power, to assign to each branch that which properly belongs to it and to secure each from encroachment by the other, by giving to both equal opportunities of defending their rights before that which, in this country, we regard as the final tribunal, the people. So far as my knowledge goes, no positive attempt in this direction has ever been made in any State government. The nearest approach to it is in allowing the governor to veto items of appropriation bills instead of limiting his veto to the whole. The same thing cannot, however, be said of the cities. There the heavy hand of necessity has compelled the inhabitants to look somewhat more closely into the facts with which they have to deal. It is not only an interesting fact, but a great simplification of the problem of government, that the difficulty in the cities is precisely the same as with the States and the nation, the usurpation by the legislature, which is nearly enough represented by the council or board of aldermen, of executive power, and the consequent weakness and want of responsibility in administration.
The drift of public opinion is, therefore, decidedly, if cautiously and timidly, toward the increase of executive