Balanced Government

[Volume 1, Page 345]

CHAPTER 11 | Document 9

Farmer, On the Present State of Affairs in America

5 Nov. 1776American Archives, 5th ser., 3:518

It should be constantly in mind that the government of these States are founded on the authority of the people only; and therefore, that there should be sufficient power left in their hands always to prevent the delegated power from becoming dangerous to their liberty. At the same time particular attention ought to be paid to the genius, manners, and customs of the people, as it is well known that innovations upon these things have often been fatal. If I may be permitted, then, to deliver my opinion of the genius of the Americans, I shall say it is of a monarchical spirit; this is natural from the government they have ever lived under. It is therefore impossible to found a simple Republick in America. Another reason that operates very strongly against such a government is the great distinction of persons, and difference in their estates or property, which cooperates strongly with the genius of the people in favour of monarchy. For these reasons I am induced to think that a mixed government is the best that can be adopted in the respective Colonies; and most of them have adopted such; but in some of them too much power is delegated from the people. One only has attempted to establish a simple Republick on the strictest principles, and this has met with the disapprobation of all parties, which is a further proof of the disposition of the people in favour of a mixed government.

And of mixed governments, the people will naturally be inclined to that which is most like what they have always been used to, viz: a supreme executive magistrate (with a necessary check) and two orders in the body of legislation. But these orders now are to derive their authority from the people only, and in a different manner from what has been usual; it therefore requires the utmost wisdom of the legislature which is to constitute them, so to balance their powers as effectually to secure the liberty and happiness of the people forever, the sole end and purpose of their appointment.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 1, Chapter 11, Document 9
The University of Chicago Press

American Archives. Edited by M. St. Clair Clarke and Peter Force. 4th ser., 6 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837--46. 5th ser., 3 vols. Washington, D.C., 1848--53.

© 1987 by The University of Chicago
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