Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
By John J. Lalor
NEITHER American nor English literature has hitherto possessed a Cyclopædia of Political Science and Political Economy. The want of a work of reference on these important branches of knowledge has long been felt, especially by lawyers, journalists, members of our state and national legislatures, and the large and intelligent class of capitalists and business men who give serious thought to the political and social questions of the day. The present work, which will be completed in three volumes, is the first to supply that want. It is also the first Political History of the United States in encyclopædic form—the first to which the reader can refer for an account of the important events or facts in our political history, as he would to a dictionary for the precise meaning of a word. The French, the Germans and even the Italians are richer in works of reference on political science and political economy than the Americans or the English. The Germans have Rotteck and Welcker’s
Staatslexikon, and Bluntschli and Brater’s
Staatswörterbuch; the French, Block’s
Dictionnaire Général de la Politique, and the celebrated
Dictionnaire de l’Economie Politique, edited by Guillaumin and Coquelin.The “Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States” is intended to be to the American and English reader what the above-named works are to French and German students of political science and political economy. The articles by foreigners in our work are largely translations from the
Dictionnaire de l’Economie Politique, the
Dictionnaire Général de la Politique, the
Staatswörterbuch, and original articles by Mr. T. E. Cliffe Leslie, the eminent English economist; while the American articles are by the best American and Canadian writers on political economy and political science. The task of writing the articles on the political history of the United States was confided to one person, Mr. Alexander Johnston, of Norwalk, Connecticut, thoroughness, conciseness and the absence of repetition and of redundancy being thus secured…. [From the Preface]
First Pub. Date
New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
Originally printed in 3 volumes. Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
The text of this edition is in the public domain.
- V.1, Entry 1, ABDICATION
- V.1, Entry 2, ABOLITION AND ABOLITIONISTS
- V.1, Entry 3, ABSENTEEISM
- V.1, Entry 4, ABSOLUTE POWER
- V.1, Entry 5, ABSOLUTISM
- V.1, Entry 6, ABSTENTION
- V.1, Entry 7, ABUSES IN POLITICS
- V.1, Entry 8, ABYSSINIA
- V.1, Entry 9, ACADEMIES
- V.1, Entry 10, ACADEMIES
- V.1, Entry 11, ACCLAMATION
- V.1, Entry 12, ACCUMULATION OF WEALTH
- V.1, Entry 13, ACT
- V.1, Entry 14, ADAMS
- V.1, Entry 15, ADAMS
- V.1, Entry 16, ADAMS
- V.1, Entry 17, ADAMS
- V.1, Entry 18, ADJOURNMENT
- V.1, Entry 19, ADMINISTRATION
- V.1, Entry 20, ADMINISTRATIONS
- V.1, Entry 21, AFRICA
- V.1, Entry 22, AGE
- V.1, Entry 23, AGENT
- V.1, Entry 24, AGENTS
- V.1, Entry 25, AGIO
- V.1, Entry 26, AGIOTAGE
- V.1, Entry 27, AGRICULTURE
- V.1, Entry 28, ALABAMA
- V.1, Entry 29, ALABAMA CLAIMS
- V.1, Entry 30, ALASKA
- V.1, Entry 31, ALBANY PLAN OF UNION
- V.1, Entry 32, ALBANY REGENCY
- V.1, Entry 33, ALCALDE
- V.1, Entry 34, ALCOHOL
- V.1, Entry 35, ALGERIA
- V.1, Entry 36, ALGERINE WAR
- V.1, Entry 37, ALIEN AND SEDITION LAWS
- V.1, Entry 38, ALIENS
- V.1, Entry 39, ALLEGIANCE
- V.1, Entry 40, ALLEGIANCE
- V.1, Entry 41, ALLIANCE
- V.1, Entry 42, ALLIANCE
- V.1, Entry 43, ALLOYAGE
- V.1, Entry 44, ALMANACH DE GOTHA
- V.1, Entry 45, ALSACE-LORRAINE
- V.1, Entry 46, AMBASSADOR
- V.1, Entry 47, AMBITION
- V.1, Entry 48, AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION
- V.1, Entry 49, AMERICA
- V.1, Entry 50, AMERICAN MERCHANT MARINE
- V.1, Entry 51, AMERICAN PARTY
- V.1, Entry 52, AMERICAN WHIGS
- V.1, Entry 53, AMES
- V.1, Entry 54, AMISTAD CASE
- V.1, Entry 55, AMNESTY
- V.1, Entry 56, AMNESTY
- V.1, Entry 57, ANAM
- V.1, Entry 58, ANARCHY
- V.1, Entry 59, ANCIEN RÉGIME
- V.1, Entry 60, ANDORRA
- V.1, Entry 61, ANHALT
- V.1, Entry 62, ANNEXATION
- V.1, Entry 63, ANNEXATIONS
- V.1, Entry 64, ANTI-FEDERAL PARTY
- V.1, Entry 65, ANTI-MASONRY
- V.1, Entry 66, ANTI-NEBRASKA MEN
- V.1, Entry 67, ANTI-RENTERS
- V.1, Entry 68, ANTI-SLAVERY.
- V.1, Entry 69, APPORTIONMENT
- V.1, Entry 70, APPROPRIATION.
- V.1, Entry 71, APPROPRIATIONS
- V.1, Entry 72, ARBITRAGE
- V.1, Entry 73, ARBITRARY ARRESTS
- V.1, Entry 74, ARBITRARY POWER
- V.1, Entry 75, ARBITRATION
- V.1, Entry 76, ARCHONS
- V.1, Entry 77, AREOPAGUS.
- V.1, Entry 78, ARGENTINE CONFEDERATION
- V.1, Entry 79, ARISTOCRACY.
- V.1, Entry 80, ARISTOCRATIC AND DEMOCRATIC IDEAS.
- V.1, Entry 81, ARITHMETIC
- V.1, Entry 82, ARIZONA
- V.1, Entry 83, ARKANSAS
- V.1, Entry 84, ARMISTICE
- V.1, Entry 85, ARMIES
- V.1, Entry 86, ARMY
- V.1, Entry 87, ARTHUR
- V.1, Entry 88, ARTISANS
- V.1, Entry 89, ARYAN RACES.
- V.1, Entry 90, ASIA
- V.1, Entry 91, ASSEMBLY (IN U. S. HISTORY)
- V.1, Entry 92, ASSESSMENTS
- V.1, Entry 93, ASSIGNATS
- V.1, Entry 94, ASSOCIATION AND ASSOCIATIONS
- V.1, Entry 95, ASYLUM
- V.1, Entry 96, ATELIERS NATIONAUX
- V.1, Entry 97, ATTAINDER
- V.1, Entry 98, ATTORNEYS GENERAL
- V.1, Entry 99, AUSTRALIA
- V.1, Entry 100, AUSTRIA-HUNGARY
- V.1, Entry 101, AUTHORITY
- V.1, Entry 102, AUTHORS
- V.1, Entry 103, AUTOCRAT
- V.1, Entry 104, AUTONOMY.
- V.1, Entry 105, AYES AND NOES
- V.1, Entry 106, BADEN
- V.1, Entry 107, BALANCE OF POWER
- V.1, Entry 108, BALANCE OF TRADE
- V.1, Entry 109, BALLOT
- V.1, Entry 110, BANK CONTROVERSIES
- V.1, Entry 111, BANKING
- V.1, Entry 112, BANK NOTES.
- V.1, Entry 113, BANKRUPTCY.
- V.1, Entry 114, BANKRUPTCY, National.
- V.1, Entry 115, BANKS.
- V.1, Entry 116, BANKS, Functions of.
- V.1, Entry 117, BANKS OF ISSUE
- V.1, Entry 118, BANKS, Advantages of Savings.
- V.1, Entry 119, BANKS, History and Management of Savings,
- V.1, Entry 120, BAR
- V.1, Entry 121, BARNBURNERS
- V.1, Entry 122, BARRICADE
- V.1, Entry 123, BARTER.
- V.1, Entry 124, BASTILLE
- V.1, Entry 125, BAVARIA
- V.1, Entry 126, BELGIUM
- V.1, Entry 127, BELL
- V.1, Entry 128, BELLIGERENTS
- V.1, Entry 129, BENTON
- V.1, Entry 130, BERLIN DECREE
- V.1, Entry 131, BILL
- V.1, Entry 132, BILL OF EXCHANGE
- V.1, Entry 133, BILL OF RIGHTS
- V.1, Entry 134, BILLION
- V.1, Entry 135, BILLS
- V.1, Entry 136, BI-METALLISM.
- V.1, Entry 137, BIRNEY
- V.1, Entry 138, BLACK COCKADE
- V.1, Entry 139, BLACK CODE.
- V.1, Entry 140, BLACK REPUBLICAN.
- V.1, Entry 141, BLAINE
- V.1, Entry 142, BLAIR
- V.1, Entry 143, BLOCKADE
- V.1, Entry 144, BLOODY BILL
- V.1, Entry 145, BLUE LAWS
- V.1, Entry 146, BLUE LIGHT
- V.1, Entry 147, BOARD OF TRADE.
- V.1, Entry 148, BOLIVIA
- V.1, Entry 149, BOOTY
- V.1, Entry 150, BORDER RUFFIANS
- V.1, Entry 151, BORDER STATES
- V.1, Entry 152, BOURGEOISIE
- V.1, Entry 153, BOUTWELL
- V.1, Entry 154, BRAHMANISM.
- V.1, Entry 155, BRAZIL
- V.1, Entry 156, BRECKENRIDGE
- V.1, Entry 157, BROAD SEAL WAR
- V.1, Entry 158, BROKERS
- V.1, Entry 159, BROOKS
- V.1, Entry 160, BROWN
- V.1, Entry 161, BUCHANAN
- V.1, Entry 162, BUCKSHOT WAR
- V.1, Entry 163, BUCKTAILS
- V.1, Entry 164, BUDDHISM
- V.1, Entry 165, BUDGET
- V.1, Entry 166, BULL
- V.1, Entry 167, BUNDESRATH
- V.1, Entry 168, BUREAUCRACY
- V.1, Entry 169, BURGESSES
- V.1, Entry 170, BURLINGAME
- V.1, Entry 171, BURR
- V.1, Entry 172, BUTLER, Benj. F.
- V.1, Entry 173, BUTLER, William Orlando
- V.1, Entry 174, CACHET
- V.1, Entry 175, CÆSARISM
- V.1, Entry 176, CALENDAR
- V.1, Entry 177, CALHOUN
- V.1, Entry 178, CALIFORNIA
- V.1, Entry 179, CANADA
- V.1, Entry 180, CANALS
- V.1, Entry 181, CANON LAW
- V.1, Entry 182, CAPITAL
- V.1, Entry 183, CAPITAL
- V.1, Entry 184, CAPITULATION
- V.1, Entry 185, CARICATURE
- V.1, Entry 186, CARPET BAGGERS
- V.1, Entry 187, CARTEL
- V.1, Entry 188, CASS
- V.1, Entry 189, CASUS BELLI
- V.1, Entry 190, CAUCUS
- V.1, Entry 191, CAUCUS SYSTEM
- V.1, Entry 192, CAUSE AND EFFECT IN POLITICS.
- V.1, Entry 193, CELIBACY, Clerical
- V.1, Entry 194, CELIBACY, Political Aspects of.
- V.1, Entry 195, CELTS.
- V.1, Entry 196, CENSURE.
- V.1, Entry 197, CENSURE OF MORALS.
- V.1, Entry 198, CENSURES
- V.1, Entry 199, CENSUS.
- V.1, Entry 200, CENTRALIZATION and DECENTRALIZATION.
- V.1, Entry 201, CEREMONIAL
- V.1, Entry 202, CHAMBER OF COMMERCE.
- V.1, Entry 203, CHARGÉ D'AFFAIRES.
- V.1, Entry 204, CHARITY, Private.
- V.1, Entry 205, CHARITY, Public.
- V.1, Entry 206, CHARITY, State.
- V.1, Entry 207, CHASE
- V.1, Entry 208, CHECKS AND BALANCES.
- V.1, Entry 209, CHEROKEE CASE
- V.1, Entry 210, CHESAPEAKE CASE.
- V.1, Entry 211, CHILI.
- V.1, Entry 212, CHINA
- V.1, Entry 213, CHINESE IMMIGRATION.
- V.1, Entry 214, CHIVALRY.
- V.1, Entry 215, CHRISTIANITY.
- V.1, Entry 216, CHURCH AND STATE
- V.1, Entry 217, CHURCH
- V.1, Entry 218, CHURCH
- V.1, Entry 219, CHURCH
- V.1, Entry 220, CHURCHES AND RELIGIONS
- V.1, Entry 221, CHURCHES
- V.1, Entry 222, CINCINNATI
- V.1, Entry 223, CIPHER DISPATCHES AND DECIPHERMENT
- V.1, Entry 224, CIRCULATION OF WEALTH.
- V.1, Entry 225, CITIES
- V.1, Entry 226, CITIES AND TOWNS.
- V.1, Entry 227, CIVIL ADMINISTRATION
- V.1, Entry 228, CIVIL LIST.
- V.1, Entry 229, CIVIL RIGHTS BILL
- V.1, Entry 230, CIVIL SERVICE REFORM
- V.1, Entry 231, CIVILIZATION
- V.1, Entry 232, CLAY
- V.1, Entry 233, CLEARING, AND CLEARING HOUSES
- V.1, Entry 234, CLERICALISM
- V.1, Entry 235, CLIENTÈLE AND CUSTOM
- V.1, Entry 236, CLIMATE
- V.1, Entry 237, CLIMATE
- V.1, Entry 238, CLINTON
- V.1, Entry 239, CLINTON, George
- V.1, Entry 240, CL�TURE
- V.1, Entry 241, COASTING TRADE
- V.1, Entry 242, COCHIN CHINA
- V.1, Entry 243, COINAGE
- V.1, Entry 244, COLFAX
- V.1, Entry 245, COLONIZATION SOCIETY
- V.1, Entry 246, COLORADO
- V.1, Entry 247, COLOMBIA
- V.1, Entry 248, COMMERCE.
- V.1, Entry 249, COMMERCIAL CRISES
- V.1, Entry 250, COMMISSION
- V.1, Entry 251, COMMITTEES
- V.1, Entry 252, COMMON LAW
- V.1, Entry 253, COMMONS
- V.1, Entry 254, COMMUNE
- V.1, Entry 255, COMMUNISM
- V.1, Entry 256, COMPETITION.
- V.1, Entry 257, COMPROMISES
- V.1, Entry 258, COMPULSORY CIRCULATION
- V.1, Entry 259, COMPULSORY EDUCATION
- V.1, Entry 260, CONCESSION
- V.1, Entry 261, CONCLAVE.
- V.1, Entry 262, CONCLUSUM
- V.1, Entry 284, CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES
- V.1, Entry 301, CONVENTION
- V.1, Entry 375, DISTILLED SPIRITS
- V.1, Entry 384, DOMINION OF CANADA
- V.2, Entry 7, EDUCATION
- V.2, Entry 18, EMBARGO
- V.2, Entry 33, EXCHANGE
- V.2, Entry 35, EXCHANGE OF PRISONERS
- V.2, Entry 37, EXCHANGE OF WEALTH
- V.2, Entry 121, GREAT BRITAIN
- V.2, Entry 130, HABEAS CORPUS
- V.2, Entry 180, INDUSTRIAL ARBITRATION AND CONCILIATION
- V.2, Entry 225, JUSTICE, Department of
- V.2, Entry 246, LAW
- V.2, Entry 364, NEW GRANADA
- V.2, Entry 379, NULLIFICATION
- V.3, Entry 4, OCEANICA
- V.3, Entry 29, PARIS MONETARY CONFERENCE
- V.3, Entry 32, PARLIAMENTARY LAW.
- V.3, Entry 116, RACES OF MANKIND
- V.3, Entry 137, REPUBLICAN PARTY
- V.3, Entry 155, ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.
- V.3, Entry 195, SLAVERY
- V.3, Entry 278, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
- V. 2, List of Writers
- V. 3, List of Writers
- V. 3, List of American Writers
ABSOLUTE POWER. The opinion that absolute power is essential to the state, is very prevalent among statesmen and publicists. They disagree, however, as to who should be invested with this absolute power, the executive or the people; but they agree in the opinion that it should be lodged somewhere. Without absolute power, they say, there is no peace, no unity in the state, no authority which is either final or supreme. Absolute power and sovereignty are sometimes
called synonymous. There are whole families of nations, with which a high respect for absolute power seems to be a natural tendency, which submit to it willingly and without reserve. It is not simply the lower races of negroes which have submitted to an absolute ruler. The Mongolian race and the superior Semitic peoples even, favored an absolute form of government. And though the noblest nations, the Aryan, did not willingly submit to this form of government, and were jealous of it, they still have shown similar tendencies, both in theory and practice. The democratic Greeks sought the most perfect political freedom in an absolute government of the people. The aristocratic Romans, the first in the science of law, adhered, in the principles underlying their private and public laws, and by way of national preference, to the idea of absolute power. Individuals of great energy and superior intellect, when at the head of the government, are most apt to be provoked to resistance by any limit imposed to their universal authority, and seek to justify their action whenever they overstep the limit imposed, by an appeal to the necessity of absolute power. Instances of a leaning toward absolute power are, therefore, frequently met with in the history of modern European states, and were the causes provocative of a great many political events. And it is not always bad men who incline toward absolutism.
—What is the meaning of absolute power? Absolute, in the full sense of the word, means freedom from all limitation. Really, there is nothing absolute but what is without beginning and end; a beginning and an end are limitations. The truly absolute, therefore, can be predicated only of a being unlimited and infinite, that is, only of God. Hence, absolute power, in the real sense of the word, can be conceived only as divine omnipotence. Absolute law is the law of God.
—All human law, on the other hand, is necessarily limited, because its condition precedent, what it supposes, man, is a limited being. Absolute power can not be attributed to man, because the limits of human nature render it impossible to attribute such power to him.
—In this extreme sense men have but seldom understood absolute power, and hardly ever claimed it. They understood and claimed this power in that extreme sense only when they regarded their ruler in the light of a divine being. A great many rulers of antiquity were worshiped as gods, and many of them may have felt themselves gods. Wherever polytheism prevailed, the people took little umbrage at this deification of man. And even where polytheism did not prevail, a people inclined to pantheism might worship certain heroes and princes as a temporary incarnation of the Deity. Even in our day such ideas have not totally disappeared. But as far as the more civilized nations and European nations are concerned, we need not fear that they will thus mistake the eternal God for man. The fiction of human omnipotence is, in our opinion, too ludicrous to serve as the basis of any political right. We know, indeed, that possessors of power, be they king or people, have a broader vision and exercise greater power than private persons, since they can command the services of many. But we know too well that the perception of those in power is subject to the limits of human vision; that there are some things it can not reach, and that they are subject in all their action to the same limitations as other men, and can neither change God’s creation in any essential particular, nor even create the smallest organic being.
—All human law or rights, and consequently the absolute power which man can claim, is necessarily limited: (
By the divine law. Since man, as a creature, supposes the Creator, and always depends on God, he must recognize the divine law as superior to him, and as conditioning human law. The divine law is really absolute, because it proceeds from the absolute Spirit and is infinite. Man can not even think of the divine law as non-existing; still less can he break its power. Whether he will or not, he remains subject to the great law of nature, and to the law of the divine guidance of the world. He can not do away with the order of the world any more than with the elements, nor with-draw himself from the irresistible power of time. (
By the limited physical nature of man, from which human law, because it pertains to the visible, earthly order of things, can not be separated. These limits may be disregarded in individual cases, but they can not be removed nor argued away. When, therefore, as in recent times, it is claimed that absolute power is necessary, those who approve it seek to introduce it into the state in a covert manner, and to moderate it by the recognition of the above limits. They admit that absolute law or right is not of human origin, and they give it a divine source. God, according to this view, has invested man with the right of absolute rule for the purpose of securing and maintaining social order, and has raised human rulers to the dignity of his representatives and plenipotentiaries. To this extent, therefore, they claim that man may properly exercise absolute power. This view is a dangerous one in this age, because it mixes the true and the false so adroitly that it may easily mislead the unthinking. While maintaining an appearance of reverence for God, who alone possesses absolute power, it seeks to secure to the sovereign the most unlimited power possible. It protests against human assumption, and still would reap the fruits of that assumption. It will not allow a ruler to make himself a god, but puts him in the place of God, and encourages him to entertain the strange delusion that his thoughts and actions are under divine control, in a manner different from the thoughts and actions of other men. It derives the absolute power of man from God, and, with due humility, recognizes the dependence of man on his Maker, while it encourages, in the mind of the ruler, the insolent idea that he only exercises the power possessed by God before He delegated it to him. In the actual exercise of his powers the sovereign is thus raised
to a level with the Deity, infinitely above the rest of mankind who are certainly his equals and not his creatures. The errors of this view are therefore essentially the same as if divine power were ascribed to man. Man can have rights and exercise power only within the limits of his nature.
—To the extent that God confides the exercise of divine right to man, He, by confiding it to him, confides it to a being with all the limitations of human nature, and hence the right so confided is changed from one absolute and divine into one human and limited. If this be not admitted, the human ruler arrogates to himself a power which can be but a source of evil to him, for the reason that it is not in human nature to exercise such power. By giving his limited freedom the dimensions of divine power, he becomes the plaything of his own caprices; and the person who knows how to influence these, has the ruler under his control.
—Absolute power, as thus defined, is most frequently advocated in Europe by absolutist parties, and there is a close relationship between such absolutism and these parties. Yet this idea of absolutism is not peculiar to absolutists, nor is it held by all absolutists. Neither is the political character of absolutism fully described by this definition.
—But the term
absolute power is frequently used to express limited power wielded by man. We call those forms of government absolute in which the sovereign is the sole source, representative and dispenser of power—though that power may be limited in its nature—and not obliged to secure, by virtue of a constitutional provision, the co-operation and consent of others to his measures (especially of legislative bodies, ministers and counselors), nor limited in the exercise of his power by the rights—those of a political nature at least—of others. It is evident that of such absolute power there are different grades. In proportion as the recognized limitations of absolute power are increased, the absolutism of that power itself diminishes. It is admitted that this power is political in its nature, and hence is subject to the same limitations as the state itself. And just here we notice, with increasing civilization and the growing maturity of the human race, a deeper insight into the natural limitations of the state, its functions and its laws, an insight which has in no way weakened the power of the state. To the limitations already noticed we may add the following: (1) The limitation, unknown to the Romans, which is represented by the Church, whose religious authority is independent of the state, and which is freely recognized as an independent institution by all civilized governments. (2) The limitation of international law, which sees to it that the different states may co-exist side by side—a limitation the extent of which increases in proportion to the increasing solidarity of mankind. (3) Private law, which defines the rights of individuals, of the family, and of corporations, and which, though it is the duty of the government to regulate and protect it, is not in its nature the product of the will of the state, and whose changes are determined by the freedom of private individuals. (4) By the special nature and history of the people living in a state, and of the country they control. There have been, and still are, states in which, though all these limitations were recognized, absolute power was claimed for the central organ of government. And such was the case, not in absolute monarchies only, but also in absolute aristocracies and in absolute democracies. It can not be said that this idea of absolute power is so monstrous as the idea of absolute power spoken of in the first place above. A peaceful observance and a just administration of the law are reconcilable with the present idea of absolute power. The sovereign is not imagined to be a god or a fetich; he may be conscious of his own human nature and its limitations, and have an honest intention of faithfully discharging his duties to God and his fellow-men.
—We are obliged to admit, indeed, that in certain cases such a close concentration of all the powers of government in the hands of one man may be needful, and hence justifiable. Nations of inferior races need the absolute rule of a superior prince, or of nobler races, in order to enjoy life in peace, or to attain a higher grade of civilization. Such inferior races frequently have neither the desire nor the means of limiting the power of their rulers. Most of the Asiatic and African nations, and those in the northeast of Europe, are subject to this sort
of absolute governmental power, and the doctrinarian introduction of constitutional limitations would render their condition worse rather than improve it.
—But to the more masculine and energetic people of a higher type, among whom there is also an aristocratic element, and among whom even the lower classes have a sense of justice and honor, the absolute form of government is, as a rule, unsuitable and intolerable. They can not bear the thought that all political rights accorded them are simply the gifts of royal grace. Having a knowledge of their own moral worth, and of the fact that they contribute to the welfare and share the fortunes of the state to which they belong, they can not understand why they should have political duties without also having political rights. And although they admit that the sovereign is entitled to share the highest prerogatives, and such a degree of political power as the unity of the state requires, they do not admit that the sovereign should enjoy all rights, and that the rest of the body politic should have none. They know that in an organism every one of its members, be it ever so inferior, has a significance of its own, and hence certain rights; and that, though the head may control the hands and feet, its control is limited by the power inherent in the latter, and that its rule over them can not, therefore, be absolute.
—The humane state, in harmony with what is noblest in human nature—the civilized state—though it requires an efficient central power, has no tendency toward absolute, that is, unlimited, political power, as against which the political
rights of others count for nothing, and which is not controlled by some sort of limitation. It is only in exceptional cases, in times of great public danger, that the government seeks its own protection in the temporary exercise of absolute power. Threatened by the military force of a foreign enemy, or greatly agitated by party struggles,—exhausted and alarmed by outbursts of revolutionary passion,—nations even by whom freedom is highly prized may demand that protection which none but a dictator can give. When, in times of great need, the concentration of all public power in the hands of one man to save the nation becomes necessary, and when the confidence of the people in some great prince or soldier from whom help is expected is such as to remove all objections which can rightly be raised against a dictatorship, masculine nations grant absolute power to one man or else approve it, even when that one man assumes that power of his own motion. But the danger over, public order and peace re-established, the people again claim the free exercise of their political rights and privileges. The rule, therefore, in relation to civilized states is: Nowhere in the state should there be absolute power, while all power exercised should be regulated by law and defined by constitutional limitations. The exception to this rule is: In cases of actual necessity and great public danger, the sovereign power of the government, in answer to that necessity, may become absolute.
—Whenever, in modern times, nations have shown a tendency toward absolute power, it was either because they believed it to be necessary for the removal of obsolete institutions, or for the promotion of freedom and reform; or because the people, in their struggle for a liberal system of government, yielded to the despotism of their terrorizing leaders, or because they were compelled to seek, for the time being, the protection of a dictator, to re-establish public order, or to defend the government against domestic or foreign enemies. In such cases the principle of constitutional freedom and the public order were the object of the struggle. Absolute power was used as a means to these ends, or suffered by the people to gain new strength for the work of progress and reform. Absolute power was nowhere the ideal people desired to see realized. Wherever it has been sought to be permanently established, the attempt has been, among the civilized nations of our age, unsuccessful. The character of our age demands an efficient and energetic government, but at the same time insists that its powers shall be limited, and exercised with moderation. The people of our age are not willing to submit to absolute power beyond the actual necessities of the case. A government which tries to secure absolute power for any purpose other than the maintenance of public order and a free exercise of its organic functions, is at war with the spirit of the age, and thereby endangers its own existence.
J. C. BLUNTSCHLI.