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There is a pleasure in reflecting on such important renovations of the ancient constitution of England. We have found, and we shall find, that our national government is recommended by the antiquity, as well as by the excellence, of some of its leading principles.
Another great end of the national government is, " to "to ensure domestick tranquillity." That it may be enabled to accomplish this end, congress may call forth the militia to suppress insurrections.
Again; the national government is instituted to "establish justice." For this purpose, congress is authorized to erect tribunals inferiour to the supreme court; and to define and punish offences against the law of nations, and piracies and felonies committed on the high seas. These points will be more fully considered under the judicial department.
It is an object of the national government to "form a more perfect union.” On this principle, congress is empowered to regulate commerce among the several states, to establish post offices, to fix the standard of weights and measures, to coin and regulate the value of money, and to establish, throughout the United States, a uniform rule of naturalization.
Once more, at this time: the national government was intended to "promote the general welfare." For this reason, congress have power to regulate commerce with the Indians and with foreign nations, and to promote the progress of science and of useful arts, by securing, for a time, to authors and inventors, an exclusive right to their compositions and discoveries.
An exclusive property in places fit for forts, magazines, arsenals, dock yards and other needful buildings; and an exclusive legislation over these places, and also, for a convenient distance, over such district as may become the seat of the national government-such exclusive property, and such exclusive legislation, will be of great publick utility, perhaps, of evident publick necessity. They are, therefore, vested in congress, by the constitution of the United States.
For the exercise of the foregoing powers, and for the accomplishment of the foregoing purposes, a revenue is unquestionably indispensable. That congress may be enabled to exercise and accomplish them, it has power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises.
The powers of congress are, indeed, enumerated; but it was intended that those powers, thus enumerated, should be effectual, and not nugatory. In conformity to this consistent mode of thinking and acting, congress has power to make all laws, which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution every power vested by the constitution in the government of the United States, or in any of its officers or departments.
And thus much concerning the first great division of the national government-its legislative authority. I proceed to its second grand division-its executive authority.
OF THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT.
IN a former part of my lectures, it was shown, that
the powers of government, whether legislative or executive, ought to be restrained. But there is, it was observed, a remarkable contrast between the proper modes of restraining them; for that the legislature, in order to be restrained, must be divided; whereas the executive power, in order to be restrained, should be one. The reasons of this remarkable contrast were, on that occasion, traced particularly, and investigated fully.
We have seen, in our remarks on the congress of the United States, that it consists of two branches-that it is formed on the principle of a divided legislature. We now see, that, in the executive department, the principle of unity is adopted. "The executive power shall be vested in a president of the United States of Ame
* Ante. vol. 1. p. 399. 400.
Cons. U. S. art. 2. s. 1.
In treating of the executive department of the United States, I shall consider, 1. The title of the president. 2. His powers and duties.
1. I am to consider the title of the president of the United States. His title is by election.
The general preference which has been given, by statesmen and writers on government, to a hereditary before an elective title to the first magistracy in a state, was the subject of full discussion in a former lecture. I then, I hope, showed, that this preference, however general, and however favoured, is, in truth and upon the genuine principles of government, ill founded. My remarks on this subject I will not, at this time, repeat.
It will probably occasion surprise, when I state the elective title of our first executive magistrate as a renewal, in this particular, of the ancient English constitution. Without hesitation, however, I state this elective title as such.
Well aware I am, that, with regard to this point, I differ in my opinion from the Author of the Commentaries on the laws of England. He thinks it clearly appears, from the highest authority England is acquainted with, that its crown has ever been a hereditary crown.d The best historical evidence, however, speaks, I apprehend, a language very different from that, which Sir William Blackstone considers as the highest authority.
Ante vol. 1. p. 440.
d 1. Bl. Com. 210.