« 上一頁繼續 »
may.dwell. But it is obviously of more immediate necessity and benefit in free States, where every citizen may exercise a voice, more or less potential, in the administration of public affairs; and it may even be deemed indispensable in our own favoured land, where the political rights of all are equal, and where the obscurest individual is eligible to the highest and most responsible stations in the government. It may therefore well be regarded as a defect in the prevailing systems of education, that this study should so generally have been either altogether omitted, or deferred to that period of life when our youth are called on to participate in the active duties of society; or that it should be considered appropriate to those only who are designed for a particular profession, or aspire to public employments.
Necessary, however, as is a profound knowledge of the Constitution, to the lawyer and the statesman, a general acquaintance with its principles and details is requisite to all who entertain just views of liberal education, or correctly estimate their privileges as citizens of a free Republie; and the increasing interest which has of late been manifested by the more intelligent portion of the community, in discussions relative to the origin, structure, and principles of our political system, certainly evince that this class of citizens appreciate their political rights, and that so far, they are understood. But the information requisité cannot be implanted too soon after the mind has been prepared to receive it; and it should remain no longer a reproach to any of our higher seminaries of learning, that its graduates are sent forth into the world more familiar with the Constitution of the Roman Republic, and the principles of the Grecian confederacies, than with the fundamental institutions of their own country.
Recent events, moreover, demonstrate that a correct knowledge of the powers and duties of the National and State Governments cannot be too widely diffused nor too early inculcated; whilst, from the nature and value of that knowledge, the public interest and safety, if not the stability of our political institutions, no less than the happiness and security of individuals, require that it should be extended, in common with all the essential branches of general education, to every portion, and, if possible, to every member, of the community
· With this special end in view, the application of 6 The American Lyceum” was made to the Author, and was acceded to by him with similar feelings of mingled satisfaction and diffidence to those with which he had assumed the duty assigned to him in relation to the subject in Columbia College. In order in any measure to effect the object in contemplation, he conceived it proper to recast the materials he had already used in a different form, and to compose from them a new work divested, as far as practicable, of the professional character and aspect common to all previous publications on Constitutional Law. He has accordingly revised and remodelled his manuscript notes; and in thus attempting to furnish a new outline of this branch of Jurisprudence, he has avoided, as far as possible, the use of all purely technical terms, and has never introduced them unaccompanied by the explanation requisite for those to whom they are not familiar; whilst in all other respects he has endeavoured to render his production useful as a popular manual, rather than that it should be distinguished as a scientific treatise.
In a work of this description, of which the essential value must depend on the fidelity
with which the provisions of the Constitution, the legislative enactments for giving it effect, and the judicial construction which both have received, are stated and explained, it must be evident that, except as to method and arrangement, there can be little scope for originality. To that merit, therefore, the Author makes no pretensions. Upon such points of Constitutional Law as have been definitively settled, he has implicitly followed those guides whose decisions are obligatory and conclusive: upon questions which have arisen in public discussion, but have neither been presented for judicial determination, nor received an approved practical interpretation from the other branches of the Government, he has had recourse to those elementary wri. ters whose opinions are acknowledged to possess the greatest weight, either from their intrinsic value, or their conformity with the general doctrines of the authoritative expounders of the Constitution : and in the absence both of authority and disquisition, the Author has ventured to rely upon bis own reasonings, and has advanced his own opinions, so far only as he conceives them to be confirmed by undeniable principles, or established by analogous cases.
Besides the reported adjudications of the Supreme Court of the United States, the sources which have been resorted to are, the contemporaneous exposition of the Constitution by the authors of " The Federalist;" that portion of the “ Lectures" of the late Chancellor of this State, Mr. Kent, which relate to the subject; Mr. Rawle's“ View of the Constitution;" and the more elaborate “ Commentaries” of Mr. Justice Story. To all these works the Author acknowledges his obligations, althongh he must·lament that the last mentioned invaluable repository of Constitutional learning did not reach him in time to consult it more at large; and in regard to the abridgment of it lately published by the learned commentator, “ for the use of Colleges and High Schools,” it may be observed, that both from its size and mode of execution it seems to aim at more select and limited objects than those proposed by the present treatise.
With respect to the two preceding elementary treatises to which the Author has refera red, it will be found that he has not coincided with the restricted views taken, in the former, of the supremacy, and in the latter, of the perpetual obligation, of the Federal Constitution; but has maintained, upon both these