Essays Of Brutus To The Citizens Of New York

Essays Of Brutus To The Citizens Of New York-2
The principles, therefore, upon which the social compact is founded, ought to have been clearly and precisely stated, and the most express and full declaration of rights to have been made—But on this subject there is almost an entire silence.

The principles, therefore, upon which the social compact is founded, ought to have been clearly and precisely stated, and the most express and full declaration of rights to have been made—But on this subject there is almost an entire silence.

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Those who have governed have been found in all ages ever active to enlarge their powers and abridge the public liberty.

This has induced the people in all countries, where any sense of freedom remained, to fix barriers against the encroachments of their rulers.

I need say no more, I presume, to an American, than that this principle is a fundamental one in all the constitutions of our own states; there is not one of them but what is either founded on a declaration or bill of rights or has certain express reservation of rights interwoven in the body of them.

From this it appears that, at a time when the pulse of liberty beat high and when an appeal was made to the people to form constitutions for the government of themselves, it was their universal sense that such declarations should make a part of their frames of government.

It is therefore as proper that bounds should be set to their authority as that government should have at first been instituted to restrain private injuries.

This principle, which seems so evidently founded in the reason and nature of things, is confirmed by universal experience.The same reasons which at first induced mankind to associate and institute government will operate to influence them to observe this precaution.If they had been disposed to conform themselves to the rule of immutable righteousness, government would not have been requisite.It was because one part exercised fraud, oppression, and violence on the other that men came together and agreed that certain rules should be formed to regulate the conduct of all and the power of the whole community lodged in the hands of rulers to enforce an obedience to them.But rulers have the same propensities as other men; they are as likely to use the power with which they are vested for private purposes and to the injury and oppression of those over whom they are placed, as individuals in a state of nature are to injure and oppress one another.It is therefore the more astonishing that this grand security to the rights of the people is not to be found in this constitution.It has been said, in answer to this objection, that such declaration of rights, however requisite they might be in the constitutions of the states, are not necessary in the general constitution, because, “in the former case, everything which is not reserved is given, but in the latter the reverse of the proposition prevails, and everything which is not given is reserved.” It requires but little attention to discover that this mode of reasoning is rather specious than solid.The country from which we have derived our origin is an eminent example of this.Their magna charta and bill of rights have long been the boast, as well as the security, of that nation.The powers, rights, and authority granted to the general government by this constitution are as complete, with respect to every object to which they extend, as that of any state government—It reaches to everything which concerns human happiness—Life, liberty, and property are under its control.There is the same reason, therefore, that the exercise of power in this case should be restrained within proper limits as in that of the state governments.


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