municipalities; to make a republic possible in the
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,