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The Indian, descendant of the aboriginal owners of the soil, without citizenship, yet not a slave, has been in some times and places probably, no remote analogue of the læt; so, too, the indented servant, a class numerous in the colonial days, who were bound in service to the freeman, and yet not distinctly servile. The slave, the counterpart of the ancient theow, we have had until within twenty-five years. As regards the ætheling, the man in a vague way set apart, likely to be chosen, if brave and competent, to the office of heretoga, or war-chief, our society furnishes no trace of him; on the other hand, the American citizen, sovereign in all his privileges, is the counterpart of the ceorl, except that a share in the ownership of land is no longer a condition of the franchise. In the definite subordination, moreover, of tun to hundred, of hundred to shire, and of shire to tribe, we have no remote foreshadowing of town, county, state, and federal union. The New England town-meeting is the moot of the Anglo-Saxon tun, resuscitated with hardly a circumstance of difference;1 as closely parallel, perhaps, also are the ancient moots of the shire, if they were constituted of the representatives from each tithing, to the county boards of the Northwest made up by the supervisors of the different townships.2 Representation, the principle that pervades the whole apparatus for law-making and administration in the higher ranges of politics, is distinctly an Anglo-Saxon idea, proceeding probably from the earliest times. If America resembles the ancient
1 Freeman: Johns Hopkins University Studies, 1st Series, I, p. 38.
2 Howard: Introduction to Local Constitutional History of the United States, I, p. 158.
mother, in no less degree does England resemble her. “ The voice of sober history does assuredly teach us that those distant times have really much in common with our own, much in which we are really nearer to them than to times which in a mere reckoning of years are far less distant from us.”] “All England,”
says J. R. Green, “lay in that oldest home, Green on the in the village-moot, Parliament; in the Anglo-Saxon glee-men, Chaucer and Shakspere; in pirate
bark, Drake and Nelson.” All America lay in that oldest home no less. The blood and
fibre of the whole great English-speaking race, in fact, is derived from those Elbe and Weser plains; government of the people, by the people, for the people, which is as the breath of its life wherever that race may be scattered, is the ancient AngloSaxon freedom.
elements in the constitutions of England and America.
1 Freeman: Growth of English Constitution, p. 158.
THE ANGLO-SAXON CONQUEST OF BRITAIN.
OUR freedom, then, is no new thing, but developed from the ancient Anglo-Saxon freedom, something transmitted from times perhaps prehistoric. We are to trace its course through nearly two thousand years, from the German plains to the United States of to-day. The fluctuations in its history have been extreme and constant. Many times it has been upon the verge of extinction. Always, however, it has been maintained, until at the present hour it advances to the dominion of the world.
But before entering upon the story of this progress, let us inquire precisely why Anglo-Saxon freedom must be regarded as valuable.
Inquiry into Precisely why is it that in an intelligent the value of human society it is better that the people should govern themselves than that they should be under mastership, either that of a sovereign or a ruling class, however wise and well disposed ? Since human nature is what it is, it is quite certain that in the long run peace and justice between man and man will be better brought to pass through selfgovernment, in a civilized state whose citizens are fairly self-controlled, than through a monarchy or the rule of a few. Now and then a King arises of the highest good sense and the utmost worth. Sometimes a small governing class will show, through a term of years, unselfishness and solicitous skill in public business. The beneficent autocrat is sure, however, to give way sooner or later to some tyrant
- the well-meaning few to a grasping oligarchy. The masses of mankind can trust no one but themselves to afford to their welfare a proper oversight. No one will claim for democratic government that it is not beset by embarrassments and dangers. Its course is always through tumults; its frictions under the most favorable circumstances cause often painful jarring and obstruction. But when all is said against it that can be said, it remains true that, for Anglo-Saxon men, no other government is in the long run so safe and efficient.
There is, however, a more important consideration than even this in favor of government of the people,
and here I cannot do better than follow
the thought of John Stuart Mill. The best government is that which does most to improve the people, and that is the government in which the supreme controlling power in the last resort is vested in the entire aggregate of the community, — every citizen not only having a voice in the exercise of that ultimate sovereignty, but being, at least occasionally, called on to take an actual part in the government by the personal discharge of some public function, local or general. The superiority of popular government over every other as to effect upon character is decided and indisputable. The practice
View of John
of the dicastery and ecclesia raised the intellectual standard of an average Athenian citizen far beyond anything of which there is any example, either ancient or modern. A benefit of the same kind is produced upon Englishmen and Americans, by their liability to be placed on juries and to serve in town, district, and parish offices. They are thus made very different beings in range of ideas and development of faculties from those who have done nothing in their lives but drive a quill or sell goods over a counter. Still more salutary is the moral part of the instruction afforded when private citizens take part in the public functions. They must weigh interests not their own, and be guided by another rule than their private partialities : they must regard the general good. Participation, even in the smallest public function, is useful: such participation should, however, be great as the general good will allow; nothing else can be ultimately desirable than the admission of all to a share in the sovereign power of the state. Unless substantial mental cultivation in the mass of mankind is to be a mere vision, this is the road by which it must come. De Tocqueville has shown the close connection between the patriotism and intelligence of Americans and their democratic institutions. No such wide diffusion of the ideas, tastes, and sentiments of educated minds has ever been seen elsewhere, or even conceived of as attainable. Nothing quickens and expands like political discussion ; but political discussions fly over the heads of those who have no votes and are not endeavoring to acquire them. Their position in comparison with the electors is that of an audience in