previous next
[371] municipalities; to make a republic possible in the
Chap. LXIII.} 1776. May.
large territories embraced in the several American colonies, where the whole society could never be assembled, power was to be deputed by the many to a few, who were to be elected by suffrage, and were in theory to be a faithful miniature portrait of the people. Nor yet should all power to be entrusted to one representative assembly. The advocates of a perfect unity in government favored the concentration of power in one body, for the sake of an unobstructed exercise of the popular will; but John Adams taught, what an analysis of the human mind and the examples of history through thousands of years unite to confirm, that a single assembly is liable to the frailties of a single individual; to passionate caprices; and to a selfish eagerness for the increase of its own importance. ‘If the legislative power,’ such were his words just as the American constitutions were forming, ‘if the legislative power is wholly in one assembly and the executive in another, or in a single person, these two powers will oppose and encroach upon each other, until the contest shall end in war, and the whole power, legislative and executive, be usurped by the strongest.’

These are words to be inscribed on the memory and hearts of every convention that would constitute a republic; yet, at that time, there was not one member of the continental congress who applied the principle to the continental congress itself. Hawley of Northampton, had advised an American parliament with two houses of legislature; but John Adams saw no occasion for any continental constitution except a congress which should contain a fair representation of the colonies, and confine its authority sacredly to war,

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Northampton (Massachusetts, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
John Adams (2)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1776 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: