« 上一頁繼續 »
authorized to marry persons; and divorces a vinculo allowed for adultery, fraudulent contract, or desertion for three years. A maritime code was enacted regulating the rights and duties and authorities of ship owners, seamen, and others concerned in navigation.(a) Bancroft
“ Connecticut from the first possessed unmixed popular liberty; the government was in honest and upright hands, and the little strifes of rivalry never became heated. The magistrates were sometimes persons of no ordinary endowinents : but though gifts of learning and genius were valued, the state was content with virtue and single mindedness, and the public welfare never suffered at the hands of plain men. Education was cherished ; religious knowledge was carried to the highest degree of refinement, alike in its application to moral duties, and to the mysterious questions on the nature of God, of liberty, and of the soul. Forestalling was successfully resisted. Education was always esteemed of deepest interest, and there were common schools from the first. But the political education of the people was due to the happy organization of the towns which here, as indeed in all New England, constituted each separate settlement a little democracy of itself. In Connecticut citizenship was acquired by inhabitancy, was lost by removal. Each town meeting was a little legislature; and all its inhabitants, the affluent and more needy, the wise and the foolish, were invested with equal franchises. There the taxes of the town were discussed and levied : there the village officers were chosen : there roads were laid out, and bridges voted: there the minister was elected, the representatives to the assembly were instructed. For more than a century peace was within its borders; and with tran
(a) 1 Story, 79, 80.
sient interruptions, its democratic institutions unharmed. For a century, with short exceptions, its history is the picture of colonial happiness. To describe its condition is but to enumerate the blessings of self-government as exercised by a community of farmers, who have leisure to reflect, who cherish education, and who have neither a nobility nor a populace."
Indeed, so enchanting is the picture drawn by this master mind, that one can hardly suppress the deep emotion which is excited by his concluding reflection, that “Those days will never return. Time, as it advances, never produces an old piece, but unfolds new scenes in the grand drama of human existence; scenes of more glory, of more wealth, of more action, but not of more tranquility and purity.”
A distinguished writer and jurist, in speaking of the statute laws of Connecticut as securing and confirming the rights of the citizen, has said:
“ Government and laws, have been erroneously considered, as originating in the prince or potentate, and the liberties and privileges enjoyed by their subjects as flowing from their free benignity and good will; for this cause the subjects exist only for their king; their lives, liberty and property are all devoted to his honor, pleasure and aggrandizement; whereas, the truth in fact is, that civil government is ordained of God, for the good of the people, and the constitution they adopt, and the persons they appoint to bear rule over them, to make and to execute the laws, the Almighty recognizes to be his ministers, acting under his authority, for the advancement of order, peace and happiness in society, by protecting its members in the quiet enjoyment of their natural, civil and religious rights and liberties. It is the office and duty of the supreme power of a state, to enact and in some proper manner promulgate to its citizens
and subjects the will of the state, which is the law respecting their rights, and their duties, that they may know how to preserve and enjoy the former, and comply with and perform the latter; also, the punishments annexed to the various infractions of the public will, thus declared and comprised in the laws.
“In republican governments, justice ought to be the principle, the public good the object, and reason and virtue the life and spirit of their laws. Statutes are made either in affirmance of natural rights and duties and declarative of them, or are positive regulations for political reasons, respecting certain matters and things, in themselves indifferent.
“ The great end of civil government is social happiness; to induce us to respect the rights, interests, and feelings of others as our own, conformable to that great command in the law, which is the foundation of all relative duties from man to man; to love our neighbour as ourselves, and to do to all as we would they should do to us; knowing that the rights and enjoyments of others are the same to them as ours are to us, and that all men are brethren, have one father, who is God, created in his image, and connected in one great family under the government of their illustrious head the Prince of Peace, and of the potentates and powers of the earth. A practice universally adopted agreeable to these principles and rules, would, without the intervention of penal laws, render the security of individuals perfect, and advance the harmony, beauty, and happiness of society, beyond the
power of language to describe.
The legislatures of Connecticut, sensible of the importance of these objects, have calculated their laws in direct subserviency thereto; and to compel their refractory citizens to do through fear of punishment what they ought to do from principles of obedience. The first law in the book of statutes in order of time and in point of
importance, is that no man's life shall be taken away : no man's honor or good name shall be stained : no man's person shall be arrested, restrained, banished, dismembered, nor any ways punished: no man shall be deprived of his wife or children: no man's goods or estate shall be taken away from him, or any ways endamaged under the color of law or countenance of authority, unless clearly warranted by the laws of the state.'
- These great essential rights are derived from a souree above all that is human; are holden by a tenure superior to what any power on earth can create or give; it is the Magna Charta of the Deity, the supreme ruler and governor, which grants and confirms these rights to man; they are therefore justly called natural rights, and the violation of them a crime against the law of nature, and what in law language is denominated malum in se.
“ The legislature has laid this as the foundation on which to rear a system of laws and jurisprudence calculated to secure and advance in the best possible manner the good of individuals, and the public peace and safety,"
OF LEGISLATIVE POWER UNDER STATE CONSTITUTIONS,
$ 78. We have in the preceding chapters considered the history of legislation among the ancients, and under the government of three of the American colonies. We shall in the next place consider the legislative power under the respective state constitutions. The bill of rights contained in the respective state constitutions, it is true, fixes limitations as well upon the power of civil magistrates as upon the legislative department of the governments, they at the same time are intended to secure the civil and political rights and liberty of the subject, and thus incidentally have an important and controlling influence upon the question of legislative authority, and must be taken into view in considering this branch of our subject.
The constitution of Maine contains the following explicit declaration of the object, design, and fundamental principles upon which the civil compact is founded.
“We, the people of Maine, in order to establish justice, ensure tranquillity, provide for our natural defence, promote our common welfare, and secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of liberty, acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in affording us an opportunity so favorablc to the design; and imploring his aid and direction in its accomplishment, do agree to form ourselves into a free and independent state, by the style and title of the State of Maine, and do ordain and establish the following Constitution for the government of the same:
“ All men are born equally free and independent, and