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THE object of the following pages is to explain the original plan and design of the American Constitution, to review the changes which have been made in it in subsequent times, and to describe its present condition and mode of working.
To fulfil these ends the author has examined with care the writings and speeches of the eminent men who framed the great fundamental law of the United States. In their declared opinions, and in the debates which took place in the State Conventions upon the ratification of the Constitution, can alone be found a true embodiment of the aims and ideas of the community which established the Republic. In the author's attempt to portray the government as it is, he has pursued a similar method of investigation;–that is, he has founded his statements and based his conclusions upon authority which ought to be accepted in England, because no one challenges it in America. For two years past—probably the most important two years in the history of the United States government, if we consider all the changes they have brought to pass—the author's daily duties called him into close intercourse with many of the most active public men of the country. He had great opportunities afforded him for acquiring the information he sought, for, although it is often said that Americans will never willingly expose themselves to criticism, the writer of these pages never detected any evidence of that disposition. The Americans do not take offence at a candid and fair discussion of the government under which they live. They are not well pleased to be caricatured; but they are not the only people in the world who object to be represented abroad by travesties of their political and social life.
In the work here placed before the reader the author has occupied himself with facts, and his authorities may be found cited at the foot of the page. He has had no favourite theory which he wished to enforce by the example of America. He has simply endeavoured to ascertain what the government of the United States was intended to be, and how far it has departed from the first design. He has not desired to prove that Democracy Or Republicanism must necessarily be a success, or
necessarily a failure, or that it is better or worse
than other systems of government, or that it is anything more than a form of polity still open to diligent study and investigation. Apart from and theories whatever, he has traced the results of eighty years of Republican Government; and if it can be proved that he is in error upon any question here discussed, his regret will be lessened by the knowledge that he errs in company with some of the greatest Americans that have adorned the public life or literature of their country.
London, November, 1867,