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Liberty of the people can exist only where these powers are thus kept distinct.
If either one of these three great powers encroaches upon the others, liberty is in danger. And the result is equally dangerous, which ever of the powers absorbs the other.
If the judicial power absorbs or encroaches upon the executive or legislative, or if the legislative encroaches upon the executive or judicial, the result is as fatal to liberty as if the executive absorbed the judicial and legislative.
Liberty can only be preserved by having th three great powers intrusted to different persons, who are wholly independent of each other. And yet, they should not be absolutely disconnected, but should be so arranged as to operate as a check upon each other.
Let us examine each of these powers separately. And first, as to the legislative power.
All the legislative or law-making power granted by the constitution of the United States, is vested in a congress. This Congress is composed of two branches, one of them is called the Senate, and the other the House of Representatives.
What is the effect if one of these powers encroaches upon the
These legislative branches are separate and independent bodies, and yet every law of the United States must pass both branches before it can become a law, and, in ordinary cases, it must also receive the signature of the president.
The two branches of the legislature operate as a check on each other, and thus tend to prevent the encroachment of the legislative upon the other pow
This division of the legislature prevents rash and hasty legislation, for after one branch has passed an act, it must go to the other branch, and they too must pass it before it can become a law. This gives time for reflection and examination, and cool and candid investigation. If one branch passes an injudicious act, the other branch may refuse to concur, and thus the act is prevented from becoming a law.
This division of the legislative power, also prevents demagogues from acquiring that influence which they otherwise would acquire. For, however much influence he might gain in one house, it would be next to impossible that he could exert a similar influence in the other house.
What are they called ?
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
A Representative is one who represents another, that is, stands in his place, acts in his name, and for him, and does every thing which he himself could do if he were present. And the one in whose name he acts, is as firmly bound by his acts as if they were done by himself. It would be impossible for all the people of the United States to meet together and pass laws. All laws of the United States, are therefore necessarily made by Representatives, that is to say, by the Senate and House of Representatives in Congress assembled. The latter body representing the people directly, and the former body representing the states directly, and the people indirectly.
At present, each state sends one representative for every 70,680 inhabitants. The people meet on a day, and at places appointed, and vote directly for persons to represent them in the house of representatives. These representatives, therefore, are chosen directly by the people, and are responsible to them for the manner in which they perform their duty. For they act in the place of the people, and all constitutional acts done by them, are as much the acts of the people, and are as binding upon all, as if they were passed by the whole nation assembled together. The ratio of representation has varied with the increase of population. At first, the house was composed of only 65 members. In 1793, it was composed of 105 members, that is, one for every 33,000 inhabitants. In 1803, it was composed of 141, one for 33,000. In 1813, of 181, one 'for 35,000. In 1823, of 212, one for 40,000. In 1833, of 242, one for 47,700. In 1845, of 226, one for 70,680, which is the present ratio of representation.
What is a representative ?
The representatives are chosen for two years. They may then be re-elected for another two years, and so on, as long as the people of the districts which they represent choose to re-elect them.
Every one who is entitled to vote for a representative to the legislature of the state in which he resides, is also entitled to vote for a representative to congress.
QUALIFICATIONS OF REPRESENTATIVES.
In order to prevent improper persons from being elected as representatives, the constitution has speci
How has the ratio of representation varied ?
fied certain qualifications which the candidate for that office must possess.
1. He must be twenty-five years of age. Extreme youth is not often possessed of the wisdom and experience necessary for the judicious exercise of so important a trust.
2. He must have been seven years a citizen of the United States. For persons born under foreign governments and becoming citizens of the United States, by naturalization, cannot reasonably be supposed to have become sufficiently familiar with, and attached to, our institutions in a shorter period.
In England, the law is still stronger against naturalized citizens, for there, no alien, though naturalized, can be a member of either house of the British Parliament.
3. He must, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen. A representative should be personally acquainted with the condition and wants of his constituents.
There is no property qualification required, nor is there any religious test. The poorest may aspire to the office as well as the richest.
Of what age must a representative be?