« ElőzőTovább »
to yours. If that be all, the thing is innocent. If government were a matter of will on any side, yours without question ought to be superior. But government and legislation are matters of reason and judgment; not of inclination: and what sort of reason is that, in which the determination precedes the discussion? In which, one set of men deliberate, and another decide? And where those who form the conclusion, are some hundred miles distant from those who hear the argument?
“ To deliver an opinion is the right of all men; and that of constituents is a weighty and respectable opinion, which a representative ought always to rejoice to hear; and which he ought always most seriously to consider. But authoritative instructions-mandates issued—which the member is bound blindly and implicitly to obey, to vote, and to argue for, though contrary to the clearest conviction of his judgment and his conscience-these are things utterly unknown to the laws of this land, and which arise from a fundamental mistake of the whole order and tenor of our Constitution.
“ Parliament is not a Congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests; which interests each must maintain as an agent and advocate against other agents and advocates. But, Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation with one interest, that of the whole. Where, not local purposes, or local prejudices ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole. You choose a member indeed: but when you have chosen him, he is not a member of Bristol, but a member of Parliament. If the local constituent should have an interest, or should form a hasty opinion, evidently opposed to the real good of the rest of the community, the member from that place ought to be as far as any other from any endeavour to give it effect. I beg pardon for saying so much on this subject; I have been unwillingly drawn into it; but I shall ever use a respectful frankness of communication with you.
“ We are now members of a rich commercial city; this city however is but a part of a rich commercial nation, the interests of which are various, multiform, and intricate. We are members for that great nation, which is, however, itself but part of a great and extended Empire."
So far Mr. Burke. His reasonings, we are well persuaded, have had a strong effect on the thinking portion of the British public, and for many years we have heard little of instructions to members of Parliament from their constituents. All that occur to our memory' at this moment, since the conclusion of what in England is called the American war, were gotten up for the promotion of local and partial interests, disgraceful to the parties who wished to enlist the talents of the members in their cause.
They have generally been from manufacturers, in support of some local monopoly.
In the United States, Judge Brackenridge of Pennsylvania, in his Miscellanies p. 96, denied the obligation of instructions ; and in the fall of 1823, the following passage appeared in a pamphlet, on the proposed alteration of the tariff, by Dr. Thomas Cooper, of the South Carolina college ; distributed among the members of the Congress of 1823-24. That gentleman says, p. 24 of the 3d edition.
“I say out of doors: because it is with great reluctance I can bring myself to believe, that any man in Congress can so far prostitute his talents, as to advocate a measure for the sake of popularity with his immediate constituents, which is hostile to the interests of the nation at large. The man who does so, if such a man there be, is an unworthy citizen.”
“Every man called to the national representation, is a national, not a local, representative. He is sent to debate, and after debate, to decide on the great interests of the nation. Of what use is a deliberative assembly, with power to send for persons and papers, and to ascertain all dubious and necessary facts on the highest responsible authority, if a member may decide without, or in the face of them ? The very essence and constitution of a representative assembly, imply that mutual deliberation and discussion must precede the vote. A member from another state, has a right to say to an instructed member, “Sir, we are entitled here to the benefit of your opinion, founded upon the investigations and discussions that take place here. Your constituents do not know what passes here. We have no opportunity of communicating with them; our arguments cannot reach them; they are not acquainted with the facts we have called up before us; they are therefore not competent, constitutionally, or in any other way, to decide. They have no right to decide upon imperfect information, or partial deliberation. In appointing you, they have given up that right; nor can you be bound by such a decision. Moreover, you belong to us, not to them. You are sent here to the national council, to deliberate for the nation, and not for the petty district where you reside. If you are allowed at any time to advocate their immediate interests, it is upon the presumption that they can be shown to be coincident with the national interests, and that you are likely to possess more accurate local knowledge, than the rest of us. If they have taken up ill founded opinions, or prejudices, from partial views of the subject, it is your duty not to foster and defend, but to correct them.'
Such are the reasonings of the President of the South Carolina College on this litigated point. It is high time that this question should be settled : and if the right claimed by the con
stituent, be determined in his favour by the public voice, that some fixed principles should be established, regulating its exercise. At present, all is doubt and uncertainty in the theory, and vagueness and informality in the practice. The popular opinion is, that the constituents have a right to instruct their representative in any case whatever; and that he is bound to pursue those instructions. This right has been repeatedly and formally acknowledged by many eminent members of Congress. We do not say this acknowledgment has proceeded in almost every case, more from a fear of losing popularity among their constituents, than from any conviction that the right claimed is well founded, but we have a right, from experience and observation, to suggest the probability, that the motive alluded to, has had more than its due share of influence on the practice, if not in every case, in the great majority of cases.
With a view to further discussion, and to contribute as much as we can, to bring this question fairly before the public, we are disposed, (until better informed) to deny that the constituents have a right to insist that the representative nominated by them, should obey the instructions they may be pleased to transmit to him, in any case whatever. We deny, that he is their servant, agent, or representative. The members from Maine, are members also for Maryland, and vice versâ, and the constituents of Maryland have as much a right to require implicit obedience from the representatives of Maine, as from the representatives of Maryland. The questions referred to them are national, not local.
Let us suppose a democratic community, so few in number, that the members composing it could meet personally in their legislative assembly, without much inconvenience; and, that being able to dispense with a representative legislature, no members were elected in that capacity. For what purpose would they meet? To enact laws and regulations. Of what kind and description? Confined to the interests of a particular section, or number, or for objects in which the whole community were interested ? Doubtless, for the latter purpose, and for that purpose only. A sectional, local, or partial interest, would require only a sectional, local, or partial meeting. A general meeting of the community would take place, only when the good of the whole community required consideration and discussion. The members present, therefore, would meet as members of the community, for public, not private or sectional purposes: and they would meet together, that the public questions might be considered with solemnity, discussed by any member who chose to take a part in the discussion, and decided after due deliberation, by the votes of the members present; each member voting as a member of the community, and not because he lived in this or that state, or section. All this is obvious from the nature of
things; and was in fact the practice at Athens, and is so in all our American tribes. A public meeting is appointed for public purposes, and a private meeting, for private purposes. A member who attends a meeting of the whole community, attends for the interest, and on behalf of the whole community. No argument can make this clearer than the statement itself.
Suppose the community should grow so numerous, that they could not attend these public meetings personally, owing to the confusion and inconvenience arising from numbers. They must appoint, in that case, some persons to represent them, and to act for them, as they would have acted for themselves if they could have attended personally. A popular democracy will in this case become a representative democracy, or republic. The representative then will be, what his constituents would have been, and their duties in such an assembly will become his duties, and their rights his rights.
What were their duties ? To meet in public assembly as members in common of the whole community.
To deliberate on and discuss, not private, but public questions, embracing the interest of the whole community. The meeting is a public meeting for public purposes.
To act upon private, local, or sectional questions, in so far only as they might have a bearing on the common interest—the interest of the whole.
To deliberate and discuss among each other, the public business; for if they could manage and transact it without deliberation and discussion, they might as well have staid at home.
To call for information from the proper officers, concerning facts necessary to be known.
To decide, not previously to, but after deliberation and discussion.
Such would be their duties, manifestly pointed out by the nature of the case.
If the persons sent in their stead therefore, be really and truly their representatives, their duties will be the same. They will be present, not as the agents or representatives of private and local interests, but of the public interest; they will belong to the whole community; and they will have public and national measures—those which appertain to the whole community, to consider, discuss, and decide upon. The members so sent, will stand collectively in the place of the whole community collectively. What the community, if personally convened, could do, their representatives can do; what the community personally convened could not do, their representatives cannot do. Thus;
The community meet to vote on public business, and to decide after mutual discussion and deliberation. They can have
no reason for meeting together, but this; and they could not vote or act, till discussion and deliberation were over. Therefore their representatives are bound to discuss and deliberate before they vote. A representative who decides before a question is discussed, has no business there. The meeting is a deliberative meeting, and he who resolves beforehand how he shall vote, is not upon equal terms with his fellows : he does not adopt nor abide by the common compact. All deliberation, all argument, all evidence, are expended upon him in vain. He permits his fellow members to address his understanding, determined beforehand that it shall be without effect. This appears to us a manifest infraction of the implied compact; a violation of the essential character of the assembly; and a downright fraud upon his colleagues, who are exerting their best abilities to pour out information upon a post—an insensible and inanimate semblance --whose impracticable understanding is locked up, and who obstinately sets matter of fact and sound argument at absolute defiance.
Moreover, the members of an unrepresented community, when met together on behalf of the community, are equal. They are all alike members of the nation, and do not meet as members of any particular section of it.
Hence they have no power or authority of ordering, directing, or instructing each other. There is no binding authority among them, but the vote ultimately taken after mutual discussion. To instruct, order, or direct, any particular member, would be a presumptuous interference, not only with his rights, but with the rights of the rest of the community, who have a claim on each member for his conscientious vote, founded on his real unbiassed opinion; and who have a stronger hold over any particular member, wherever he happens to reside when at home, than any portion of the community can have. The members meet as members of the whole community, and not as persons partially and locally interested. So' therefore does each member in a representative government; else he does not represent that portion of the community who depute him ; for in a democratic meeting they could be members on no other condition. And when that portion instruct a member, as if he were (body and soul) their separate and exclusive property, they infringe on the rights and claims of the whole community, and commit an act of gross usurpation. The person deputed belongs, as they who depute him would have done, to the nation. He is the nation's member, not the member of a part, or a party ; for this plain and unanswerable reason, that those whom he represents would have been so too, if they had attended instead of him. To suppose that in a national meeting, a member would be bound to sacrifice the interest of the nation to that of his immediate constituents, is the manifest absurdity