Separation of Powers

[Volume 1, Page 319]

CHAPTER 10 | Document 8

Instructions of the Inhabitants of the Town of Boston to Their Representatives in Congress

1776Niles 133

It is essential to liberty, that the legislative, judicial, and executive powers of government be, as nearly as possible, independent of, and separate from each other; for where they are united in the same persons, or number of persons, there would be wanting that mutual check which is the principal security against the making of arbitrary laws, and a wanton exercise of power in the execution of them. It is also of the highest importance, that every person in a judiciary department employ the greatest part of his time and attention in the duties of his office; we therefore further instruct you, to procure the enacting such law or laws, as shall make it incompatible for the same person to hold a seat in the legislative and executive departments of government, at one and the same time: that shall render the judges, in every judicatory through the colony, dependent, not on the uncertain tenure of caprice or pleasure, but on an unimpeachable deportment in the important duties of their station, for their continuance in office: and to prevent the multiplicity of offices in the same person, that such salaries be settled upon them as will place them above the necessity of stooping to any indirect or collateral means for subsistence. We wish to avoid a profusion of the public moneys on the one hand, and the danger of sacrificing our liberties to a spirit of parsimony on the other.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 1, Chapter 10, Document 8
The University of Chicago Press

Niles, Hezekiah, Principles and Acts of the Revolution in America. Centennial Offering. New York: A. S. Barnes & Co., 1876.

© 1987 by The University of Chicago
All rights reserved. Published 2000