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OF THE CONSTITUTIONS OF THE UNITED STATES AND
OF PENNSYLVANIA-OF THE LEGISLATIVE DEPART
In my plan, I mentioned, that I would consider our municipal law under two great divisions; that, under the first, I would treat of the law, as it relates to persons; and that, under the second, I would treat of it, as it relates to things. I pursue those two great divisions; and begin with persons.
Persons are divided into two kinds—natural and artificial. Natural persons are formed by the great Author of nature. Artificial persons are the creatures of human sagacity and contrivance; and are framed and intended for the purposes of government and society.
When we contemplate the constitution and the laws of the United States and of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania; the mighty object, which first arrests our attention, is—the people. In the laws of England, as they have been imposed or received during the last seven centuries, the
[Every individual or entity which has rights or the capacity to owe duties is a person. In the strict legal sense the word person refers to the capacity, character or status of the being rather than to the man or entity. The Romans expressed the idea by saying : “Unus homo sustinet plures personas ;” or, one man sustains many conditions or characters. 1 Austin's Jur. 362.)
“people” is a title, which has scarcely found a place, or, if it has found a place occasionally, it has attracted but a very disproportionate degree of notice or regard. Of the prerogative of the king, frequent and respectful mention is made: he is considered and represented as the fountain of authority, of honor, of justice, and even of the most important species of property. Of the majesty of the people, little is said in the books of our law. When they are introduced upon the legal stage, they are considered as the body, of which the king is the head, and are viewed as the subjects of his crown and government.
This has not been the case in all countries; it has not been the case in England at all times. It has, indeed, been the case too often and too generally ; but the pages of literature will furnish us with a few brilliant exceptions. Of one permit me to take a very particular notice ; for of a very particular notice it is highly deserving.
At the mention of Athens, a thousand refined and endearing associations rush immediately into the memory of the scholar, the philosopher, the statesman, and the patriot. When Homer, one of the most correct, as well as the oldest and one of the most respectable, of human authorities, enumerates the other nations of Greece, whose forces acted in the siege of Troy; he arranges them under the names of their different kings: but when he comes to the Athenians, he distinguishes them by the peculiar appellation of “the people” l of Athens.
Let it not surprise you, that I cite Homer as a very respectable authority. That celebrated writer was not more remarkable for the elegance and sublimity, than he was for the truth and precision, of his compositions. The geographer, who could not relish the exquisite beauties of his poetry, felt, however, uncommon satisfaction in ascertaining, by the map, the severe accuracy of his geographi
1 Anunc. Pot. 12, Iliad I. 2, v. 547.