Essays Of Brutus To The Citizens Of New York

Essays Of Brutus To The Citizens Of New York-50
The mutual wants of men at first dictated the propriety of forming societies; and when they were established, protection and defense pointed out the necessity of instituting government.In a state of nature every individual pursues his own interest; in this pursuit it frequently happened that the possessions or enjoyments of one were sacrificed to the views and designs of another; thus the weak were a prey to the strong, the simple and unwary were subject to impositions from those who were more crafty and designing.The principles, therefore, upon which the social compact is founded, ought to have been clearly and precisely stated, and the most express and full declaration of rights to have been made—But on this subject there is almost an entire silence.

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In this state of things, every individual was insecure; common interest therefore directed that government should be established, in which the force of the whole community should be collected, and under such directions as to protect and defend everyone who composed it.

The common good, therefore, is the end of civil government, and common consent the foundation on which it is established.

To set this matter in a clear light, permit me to instance some of the articles of the bills of rights of the individual states, and apply them to the case in question.

For the security of life, in criminal prosecutions, the bills of rights of most of the states have declared that no man shall be held to answer for a crime until he is made fully acquainted with the charge brought against him; he shall not be compelled to accuse or furnish evidence against himself—The witnesses against him shall be brought face to face, and he shall be fully heard by himself or counsel.

I need say no more, I presume, to an American, than that this principle is a fundamental one in all the constitutions of our own states; there is not one of them but what is either founded on a declaration or bill of rights or has certain express reservation of rights interwoven in the body of them.

From this it appears that, at a time when the pulse of liberty beat high and when an appeal was made to the people to form constitutions for the government of themselves, it was their universal sense that such declarations should make a part of their frames of government.

That it is essential to the security of life and liberty that trial of facts be in the vicinity where they happen.

Are not provisions of this kind as necessary in the general government as in that of a particular state?

To effect this end, it was necessary that a certain portion of natural liberty should be surrendered, in order that what remained should be preserved.

How great a proportion of natural freedom is necessary to be yielded by individuals, when they submit to government, I shall not now inquire.


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