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has been the sword of the warrior; the only justification of it in political reasoning, is necessity. Intelligent essayists tell the whole truth, and more than the truth, when they say, that the power of government is necessary to repel foreign encroachment, and prevent unjust injury by one citizen to another. Of course these purposes cannot be effected without some infringement of the rights of some individuals; but it is obvious, that this plea of necessity, in violation of right, ought never to be allowed any further than the necessity requires. To provisions for defence and protection, the powers of government should therefore be limited: all other regulations should be refrained from, or established in conformity to the inalienable rights of freedom. Should this principle be adopted, infringement on natural right would indeed be made in a small degree; but nine tenths of the laws made by our governments, national and state, misregulating private concerns, could be dispensed with, their object be better effected in another way; and the government be as efficient as ever. Nothing can be more true than the aphorism, that “the people who are least governed are the best governed ;” multiplied legislation is suicidal in a republic.
But how can private violations of right be prevented, or disputes between individuals be settled, if power for these purposes
is withheld from government ? As no politicians have ever yet thought of accomplishing these objects, otherwise than by the coercive action of government, such a question is to be expected, and cannot surprise us; but, taught by the instructions of Christianity, it is believed that such ends may be attained without perpetuation in all cases of the agency of force; and that this agency may be remitted pari passu with the advance and purification of society, till it shall become even unnecessary. In the present state of all human communities, corrupted as they have been by the long continued demoralization of tyranny, force, as employed by governments, is indeed necessary for the enforcement of justice; but by no means for its determination. Government should yet be allowed the power to prevent crime, even by the uncertain ex-post facto administration of punishment, if no better method is discerned; but not to judge of the reality of crime, or the best
measures for prevention ; still less should it be allowed to convert, by statutes, into crime, acts which neither enlightened conscience nor the laws of God have so pronounced.
The determination of these points must indeed rest somewhere : here the principles of the Revolution will guide us. If the rights of men there claimed, are, as asserted, inalienable, they cannot be alienated, all at once, by delegation to governments, and in fact they never have been so delegated ; they must of course remain with individuals, and where collisions of such rights occur between different parties, the determination of them must be by the parties themselves, or their mutually appointed representatives, in each disputed case. This leads us directly to the principle of selected reference, or, as it is called, “ Arbitration,” and an attentive examination will show, that this principle is effectually applicable to every case of contested right that can possibly arise in a civilized community; and the tyranny of compelled attendance of jurors and witnesses, and the perplexing and ensnaring forms of law, would by it be dispensed with. To be sure, decisions under this method would not always be uniform, but they would be more likely to be just; and uniformity is not attained under the present usurping system. Trials in this form, also, admit of compromises, for which our laws make no provision ; and which, in many really dubious cases, are the truest judgment.
The voluminous labyrinth of law, the extent of which is in itself a great injustice, and its innumerabls evils and oppressions, which citizens of all countries feel and complain of, are owing to the unhappy mistake made by rulers and jurists, for ages, that determinations of the respective rights, and all the perplexing encounters of the social and pecuniary interests of men can be codified; and under this impression, statutes, and -in defect of them — precedents, are piled together in a countless array of awfully repulsive restrictions. And is completion of the system attained, or in prospect? Does not every week's record of the Courts, present new and intricate questions, and doubtful or conflicting decisions ? On the other hand, there is in every intelligent and unbiased mind, a distinct, if not intuitive, sense of the right and the wrong, in every possible question respectively, when the facts of the case in hand are
fully ascertained, which cannot be generalized or reduced to a uniform rule, but will in almost all different instances be conformable to abstract or rational justice. If this is true, it shows that the most reliable security for the determination of right, is in the judgment of a plenipotent arbitration, unbound by authority, uncorrupted by antiquated prejudices, unfettered by erroneous legislation, unbiased by official station, and unperplexed by the sophistical maxims of legal training. Such tribunals would be as satisfactory as simple ; and might supersede the turmoil of partisan political legislation, except that for protection or execution; and dismiss the immense records of laws, decisions and judicial forms to their merited oblivion.
The radical injustice of the actual principles of our government have thus been pointed out, and their entire inconsistency with those of the Revolution; and it is believed that we might safely rely on the abridgment of legislation, and a constant resort to a free, plenipotent, and competent arbitration, guided. only by evidence and reason, to restore the suppressed rights of citizens, and fulfil all the legitimate purposes of government. But as the establishment of this system would be a new revolution, for which our community is not yet prepared, and cannot reasonably be expected; without such fundamental change, specific reforms might be made, in conformity to the principles of the Revolution, which might gradually approach such a change. Examples of special rules, or enactments, in which these principles are plainly contravened, of which our records of legislation and judicial decisions are full, might be produced, and which might be singly and successively reversed. Allusion has already been made to the limitations of our system of suffrage; the predominance of political sway by judicial precedents; the provisions for the support of slavery; the institution of compulsory military establishments; the extension of legal authority, by forced constructions; and the interference of government with private and social concerns, for which it never could have been instituted ; further mention might be made of the regal maxims, that government cannot be sued at law by citizens ; that it assumes to be a party in criminal actions, thus judging its own cause ; and the imposition of oaths, expressly forbidden by Christ, and accordingly a sin in
those who take, those who administer, and those who enact them; with the addition of many others, perhaps less important, but still grievous : but it is deemed unnecessary. Should they be arrayed with full comment, our Christian patriots might then be asked to survey this chaotic mass of errors, which are idolized as the perfection of human wisdom ;
whether there is here no demand for a reformation, more radical than has hitherto been attempted.
In an earlier part of this article, it was intimated that the annunciation in the Declaration of Independence, of the equal and inalienable rights of men, was premature in an age not prepared for it, and that the time may now have come, when this principle may be raised from the grave of prescriptive policy, in which it had been buried in its infancy, and its features of divine symmetry be again exposed to the view of a more intelligent age. The forward “ march of mind," and the rapid transitions of policy which have since occurred in these States; the breaking up of old opinions, and the searching analysis of prevalent dogmas, even descending to the foundations of all the social connexions of men, which characterize the present age, warrant the hope, that the righteous principles of the Revolution will no longer be neglected : indeed they are already sounded by the myriad voices of the press, though their true import is yet but dimly seen. Although none may expect their speedy recognition and full adoption, yet it is well now to lay the seeds of that tree of liberty and justice, which rising in the fostering soil of political agitation, will hereafter spread its salutary branches over our extensive empire. Believing in the constant amelioration of our race, under divine tuition, no citizen need despair of the future triumph of principles, in full accordance with celestial revelation, and manifestly tending to the high exaltation, the undeviating justice, the unrestricted freedom, the unbroken peace of the world. The dogma is not credible, that man is so corrupted in nature, as to be incapable of disinterested and unbounded benevolence; and the hope may be cherished, that sentiments of Christian love may yet break through the mighty bonds of unprincipled ambition and selfish avarice, and expand their fragrance through the whole political atmosphere of the earth.
The earnest appeal is now made to our gifted statesmen, to cast from them that vain pseudo-patriotism, which will see no faults in our growing republic, to awake to its corruptions, and re-commence the reform the Declaration of Independence promised. Let this reformation be projected in earnest, and pursued with vigor, and the character of our nation may be redeemed from the general imputation of insincerity in the profession of freedom, and dishonesty in the acquisition of territory, and the pursuit of wealth. Lauded as we every where are, for intellectual ingenuity and enterprising energy, when we shall add to these attributes, the reputation of cordial champions of the universal and inalienable rights of " life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," we may then stand proudly forth
a light to lighten the Gentiles,” leading them to that happy consummation announced in the birth-day song of angels, and daily solicited in the prayer that the Kingdom of the universal Father may come, and his will be done on earth, as it is done in heaven.